Fort Jesus

Fort Jesus
Photo by Roman Bruehwiler.

Fort Jesus, Mombasa is a fort built by the Portuguese to control the Indian Ocean trade.

The fortress was the first European-style fort constructed outside of Europe designed to resist cannon fire. Today, it is one of the finest examples of 16th-century Portuguese military architecture, which has been influenced and changed by both the Omani Arabs and the British.

Community Perspective: Worth about an hour. Your only choice to make is whether to hire a guide or not.

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Zoë Sheng

Chinese-Canadian - 06-Jan-24 -

Fort Jesus by Zoë Sheng

Oh jeez, they named a fort after Jesus? Well unlike the prophet the fort is not special, at all. So the unique points are that it was numero uno European (Portuguese) fort in the area of this style, second being that it was taken over by the Omanis. You can get around the entire fort within 20 minutes as it's so small. If you want to hire a guide they will approach you as you get to the entrance already and the ticket check lady asked me again as I entered. I think there are only two places that they would be useful. 1. The great wall painting and I would say that IS the best about the fort if not for it being remade in the 60s. Here there would be explanations to appreciate it more. Second would be arch passage and rooms below because by itself it's nothing to look at and I overheard the guides chat about it a lot. The main barracks are currently under renovation so I think they will add a lot to see later. There is also a small Omani museum but it's not really related to the fort (and talks about heritage sites in that country instead) as well as a large whale bone collection which again doesn't apply to the fort.

Even though I had all morning planned for the sightseeing it was already done within an hour. Can't really recommend it.

Michael Novins

United States - 28-Nov-16 -

Fort Jesus by Michael Novins

In August 2016, I flew from Zanzibar to Mombasa, where I stayed at the Castle Royal Hotel, which dates from 1909 and is centrally located between the Moi Avenue tusks and Mombasa Old Town. Along with a guide from Diani Tours (, I walked from my hotel to the historic spice market (one of the most photogenic in East Africa) and then through the Old Town, where I visited the White House (which served as the first U.S. consulate in Kenya from 1915 - 1918), to Fort Jesus, a Portuguese fort built between 1593 and 1596. Based on what I had read, I thought it was prudent to arrange for a local guide, although the area seemed safe, at least for a daylight meandering -- still, it was helpful to have a guide to navigate through the labyrinthine streets from the spice market to Fort Jesus.

Site Info

Full Name
Fort Jesus, Mombasa
Unesco ID
2 5
Structure - Military and Fortifications

Site History

2011 Advisory Body overruled

ICOMOS recommended Deferral - proposal needed better justification of OUV, comparative analysis and buffer zone. Nigeria proposed inscription - passed nem con!

2011 Inscribed

2010 Referred

2008 Incomplete - not examined


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Fort Jesus