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Fort Jesus

Fort Jesus

Fort Jesus, Mombasa is a Portuguese fort built in 1593. It was built in the shape of a man (viewed from the air), and was given the name of Jesus.

The fort was designed by an Italian architect, Jao Batisto Cairato, who was the Chief Architect for Portuguese possessions in the East. It 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.

Map of Fort Jesus


  • Cultural

Community Reviews

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.

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Community Rating

Community Rating 2.50. Based on 2 votes.

Site Info

Full name: Fort Jesus, Mombasa

Unesco ID: 1295

Inscribed: 2011

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 2   5  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2011 - Inscribed 
  • 2010 - Referred 
  • 2008 - Incomplete - not examined 


The site has 1 locations.

  • Fort Jesus


The site has 9 connections.


  • Coral Masonry: Part of the original construction material (AB ev)
  • Renaissance: Described as Renaissance military architecture (AB ev)


  • Prison: Under British rule the Fort was converted to a prison until 1958 (AB ev)


  • Swahili culture: Although of Portugese origin, it has some Swahilian touches: "Decorative elements included Swahili kidaka (plastered wall niches) that ran along the east wall at a height of 1.75 meters from the floor." (link) Link

Human Activity

  • Geoglyphs: The Fort was given a form that was roughly human ... the image of the martyred Christ has also been read in the plan of the fort (AB ev)


World Heritage Process