Known as Mombasa's most popular tourist fascination, Fort Jesus is probably the country's best preserved piece of history. Built in 1593 by Portuguese, this fort has withstood the test of time, wind and water.
The fort was designed by an Italian by the name Joao Batista and was 'curved' off from a coral ridge at the entrance to the coastal area. This rock secured the Portuguese during battles especially between 1696 to 1698 war. It was built at a vantage point with the sight of oncoming water vessels very clear and almost the whole coastal strip in sight. The fort got its name from the shape; from an aerial view, the fort looks like a man and it was built to save and protect people, hence the name Jesus.
Perhaps the most astonishing fact about this fort is that it was lost after winning a total of nine times between the year 1631 and 1875. It was eventually converted from a fort into a prison by the British who colonized Kenya.
In 2011, the fort was declared a UNESCO world heritage site even though it had undergone several changes from its original design and shape.
Fort Jesus as a Tourist Destination
Located along the famous Mombasa beach where tourists flock every year for a change of climate, Fort Jesus has established itself as a must see destination both for recreational and educational purposes.
The mere sight of the fort standing right at the edge of the beach and the sea is enough to get tourists asking all sorts of questions about its origin. The beautiful architecture employed by its builders is unmatched even in this modern age and the mere ingenuity used to build it is marvelous.
The inside of the fort is in the form of a little self contained town. Before it was turned into a prison and the huts inside the fort removed, the fort had been built to save people and hence the need for a constant source of water and food. The rough looking fort built to precision to ward off any enemies, in fact, very different from the homely design used in the interior. On the flip side, after the British took charge, they created prison cells and dungeons that stand to date. These prisons are a constant reminder of the slave trade since that is where the slaves were kept pending their sale.
After independence, the Kenyan government took charge of the fort and even created a museum within its walls to preserve most of the historical artifacts and pieces that helped shape the history of this great nation.
The fort is now more than just a fort, it is an icon of history (a majestic one at that), a museum, a learning base and the greatest tourism attraction in the coastal region of Mombasa.
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