Fort Jesus Museum| Popular Mombasa Attractions
The Fort Jesus Museum is a popular cultural attraction Located in Mombasa-Kenya’s second largest city.
The Fort Jesus Museum was built in Mombasa by the Portuguese in 1593 and it was accredited as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. The Fort Jesus Museum is one of the ultimate examples of 16th century Portuguese military fortifications in the world. The Museum offers an extraordinary introduction of the history of Mombasa including the battles that happened between the Muslim Arabs and Christian Europeans over control of the region.
The Fort Jesus Museum is approximately 490km away from Nairobi-Kenya`s capital set on Mombasa Island and it was set mainly to guard against invasion of the old port of Mombasa. The construction of the Fort Jesus museum was under the instructions of King Philip, the first king of Portugal and it was designed by Giovanni Battista Cairati- a Milanese architect. The aerial views of this Fort Jesus Museum appear like a man lying on his back.
The clear intention of the Portuguese building this Fort was to sure their safety of living on the East African Coast. The Fort Jesus holds a testimony of the first attempt of the western civilization to succeed in the rule of the Indian ocean trade routes otherwise it was always under the eastern influence.
The Portuguese built the for so rapid and made it a key asset to express their interest of controlling Mombasa Island and the trade routes around. This wasn’t so success at first, the Portuguese lost 9 times in the battle to control Kenya between 1631 & 1875 until Kenya was finally controlled by the British. History has it that this is the only Fort that faced a lot of turbulence due to its strategic position. After it was build, this port would be transformed by the controlling state and up to now, this Fort Jesus shows clear elements from the major powers that once held it mainly the British, Portuguese and Oman Arabs. The influence of the British and Portuguese can be understood through the various cannons found on the island. The influence of Oman Arabs is shown with Koran writings on the wooden doorposts and ceiling beams. The influence of Muslims is also understood basing on the use of 5 pillars and this is clearly seen in the former meeting that has 5 stone pillars up to the ceiling
This Fort Jesus has ever been used as a military barracks in 1837 and 1895. The fort has also ever been used as until in 1958 when it was finally declared a national Monument. Currently, the Fort Jesus is a Museum where visitors can explore the island and visit some ancient buildings that are still existing like the Oman House where the Sultan who used to govern the coast of East Africa stayed. There is also an open water reservoir where the Portuguese would fetch water. And also, to see is a 76-foot-deep well that was sunk by the Arabs.
As your walking through the Museum, you can also explore various artifacts, ceramics and pottery from the time when Mombasa was a hub for slave trade and other commodities. Exhibitions include Santo António de Tanná which sank off Fort Jesus in 1698 during a siege and the Portuguese frigate.
The museum also features a Swahili cultural center which was established in 1993 to train the youth of Kenya in cultural Swahili crafts and business management.
Recently, the Mombasa butterfly house was also opened up where you can explore live tropical butterflies in the natural environment, visit the place to understand the biodiversity of butterflies and their connection to the local communities.