Historical Sites In Kenya

Bomas of Kenya

The Bomas of Kenya are found in the Nairobi suburb of Langata. A Boma is a traditional homestead. The Bomas of Kenya were originally an attempt to create a living museum of indigenous Kenyan life with a display of eleven traditional homesteads andan emphasis on regional dances.The place always had a heavily touristy feel, there is a huge indoor amphitectural where programs based on traditional dances of different tribes in Kenya are performed. Its vitality is channelled mainly into souvenir-selling. The dancers finish with a lively display of acrobatics and tumbling. There is also an open air museum showing the different lifestyles of each tribe. The show begins at 1430 hrs. In case you are looking to fill an afternoon or you want a change from the National Park, they can be enjoyable enough, particularly on weekends when they are crowded and a disco follows the dance show. Surprisingly, perhaps, the dances are not performed by the appropriate Kenyan nationalities, instead the Harambee Dancers do fast custome changes between acts and present the national's traditional repertoire as professionals rather than participants.

Fort Jesus

Fort Jesus is the Mombasa old town's major attraction. The Fort is now a national monument and house of an interesting museum. It was designed in the 16th century by an Italian architect called Cairati. The Portuguese built Fort Jesus at the end of 16thcentury. The most interesting features today include the Omani House in the San Felipe baston in the north-western corner of the fort. Clambering around the fortifications is great fun, it deserves a couple of hours exploration. Within the fort are wall paintings and some of the oldest graffiti in Mombasa. After leaving the Fort, wander around the corner to view the sheer 16m high walls of the seaward project. There is a small museum which is situated in the southern part of the Fort and has an interesting collection. Exhibits include a fair amount of pottery as well as other archaeological finds from other digs on the coast. The diversity of the exhibits is a good illustration of the wide variety of influences that this coast was subject to over the centuries. Opening hours are: 0800 to 1830 hours everyday.

Gedi Ruins

It is on the Mombasa - Malindi road sixty-five miles from Mombasa and ten miles from Malindi.Gedi was visited by Sir John Kirk, The British Resident of Zanzibar, in 1884 and was then forgotten for fifty years but in 7 was gazzeted as an historical monument and started to receive a number vistors. It consists of the ruins of a fifteeth century Arab-African town, typical of a number of such towns up and down the coast of East Africabut the only one which is maintained as a place of public resort. It was founded in the 13 th century and is surrounded by thick jungle, giving it the feel of the archetypal lost city. One of the most intriguing historical sites on the Kenyan coast, it has been occupied for 300 years. The ruins cover 45 acres. Gedi has a haunting atmosphere, due to a large part of the tangled forest which has engulfed it. There is also a Dated tomb which consists of a large oval tombstone with an epitaph incised in plaster, partially erased but sufficiently legible for the date A.H 802/A.D. 1399 to be read. There is a good chance of encountering animals, especially in the early morning. Birdlife is prolific, you can see many good forest birds. Other thiongs to see there include the great Tomb, the House of the Porcelain Bowl, the House of The Cistern, theHouse of The Iron Lamp etc. The Entrance is 10 minutes walk from Gedi village and it is well signposted. Overnight camping is not permitted.

Karen Blixen Museum

The museum is in the house of Karen Blixen, in the suburb of Karen. Exhibits include various agricultural implements. The house was bought by the Danish government in 1959 and presented to the Kenyan government at independence, along with the nearby agricultural college. There is a pleasant house and gardens, other things to do include the nearby Karen Blixen Coffee Garden, gallery and gift shop echno themes of the museum. It is open daily from 0930 to 1800.

Kenya National Museum

Located in Nairobi on Museum road off Museum Hill and presents an overview of Kenya's history. The museum contains many portraits of the Peoples of Kenya by Joy Adamson, excellent fossil remains and also has an exquisite collection of over 900 bird and butterfly found in Kenya. The Kenya Museum Society offers guided tours of certain exhibitions, which are recommended. Opening hours are 9:30 to 18:00 hrs.

Lamu Fort

Lamu Fort is located along the coast and you can easily get there by the buses travelling between Malindi and Lamu. The of this massive structure was began by the Sultan of Patein 1810 and completed in 1823. It was uised as a prison from 1910 to 1984 and but it has recently undergone complete restoration and now houses an impressive walk-through aquarium and natural history museum as well as the Islands library. The construction is of coral blocks, covered with mortar which has a yellow-orange hue marked by black patches. It contains an exhibition on the environment, a shop and a library plus a pleasant cafe overlooking the busy square at the entrance.

Lamu Museum

Incorporates a library and is located on Kenyatta Road. This is one of the most interesting small museums in Kenya. There is also a good slide show available at the museum. It is run by the National Museums of Kenya. It has a collection of publications of the Lamu and the Swahili Culture. There ois also a display of archaeological excavations of the Takwa ruins. The most celebrated exhibits are the two Siwa horns, they date from the 17th century,thought to be the oldest surviving musical instruments in black Africa.

McMillan Memorial Library

Located next to Jamia mosque and has an excellent collection of books, newspapers and parliamentary archives. The neo-classical building was built in 8. Books can also be borrowed from here for a small charge.

National Archives

This is more interesting than it may sound to the non-historian. The building is located on Moi Avenue, opposite Hilton Hotel. It consists of various exhibitions of arts and crafts as well as photographs and many other documents.

Shanga Ruins

Shanga ruins is about 1 hour walking distance from Siyu. There have been excavations in recent years which show signs of unearthing impressive buildings from the 13th and 14th centuries and many artifacts have been found defining back to the 8th and 9th centuries as well as a pillar tomb. You visit the island by dhow.

Swahili House Museum

This is a beautifully restored traditional house, with all the traditional furniture and other house wares as well as a pleasant courtyard. The museum is open daily from 0800hrs up to 1800hrs, with small entrance fee.

Takwa Ruins

Located in the Manda Island, northern side of Lamu. The ruins consist of the remains of a wall which surrounded the town, about 100 houses, a mosque, ablution facilities and a tomb dated from 1683. The Takwa ruins are those of an ancient Swahili town which is believed to have prospered from the 15th to the 17th centuries, with a population of between 2000- 3000 people.

Kisumu Museum

This museum, located in Kisumu town, was officially opened to the public in 1980. One of its main attractions is a crocodile park where visitors can see the reptile in its various sizes. There is also a big aquarium, with a wide variety of fresh water fish.

The ethnographic exhibits center on the customs and traditions of the tribal groups that reside in the region and include traditional clothing and adornment, basketry, fishing gear, agricultural implements and hunting weaponry. A life size traditional Luo homestead, based on a family of three wives and their children, is situated nearby the main museum building.

There is also a snake park. The non-poisonous snakes are in a snake pit while the poisonous ones are in glass. The latter include the rare rhinoceros viper and species of cobras, mambas and adders.

Kitale Museum

This museum owes its origins to the late Colonel H. Stoneham, who established a private museum during his lifetime. The first building was opened to the public in 1975. The museum grounds, which included a nature reserve, are now forty acres in extent. Exhibits include material culture of the western peoples of Kenya, prehistory and natural history. Traditional homesteads of the Bukusu, Luo, Turkana and Elgon Maasai are located near the main museum building.

Meru Museum

This museum is situated in Meru town and showcases of the Meru people culture. Ethnographic exhibits include cultural and technological artifacts retrieved from the prehistoric site at Lewa Downs. A typical Meru homestead gives a good idea of how the people live. Outside there is a display of various herbal and traditional medicinal plants including an example of a khat (miraa) plant.

Last Updated on Tuesday 8th December 2009