Museums in Mombasa

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While Mombasa does not have a lot of typical museums, its open-air history is long and deep and offers an interesting look into the city’s past and present. Here are some of the top museums and historical sites of Mombasa.

The Fort Jesus

One of the city’s largest attractions, this fort was built in 1593 by the Portuguese as a way to keep local enemies and Turkish warships at bay. Today the fort’s remains set the stage for a great tour that includes a small museum, as well as a look at prison cells and torture rooms that slaves were held in before their trade. There are numerous gun turrets and houses within the walls of the fort that make for an enjoyable afternoon of exploration.

If you want to learn more about the fort, there is an interesting light and sound show offered 3 nights per week that uses actors, sound effects and lights to tell the fort’s storied history. The show includes a candlelight dinner in the fort’s courtyard.

Gedi Ruins

Going north towards Malindi, the Gedi Ruins is a fascinating pre-historic small town site made completely from rocks and stone. Dating back to the 15th century, these ruins were once lived in by a wealthy sultan and a few thousand Swahili people living under his rule. These ruins have been very carefully preserved and much of the structures’ original foundations are viewable.

Despite this community’s large size, it was never documented anywhere, either in historical writing or local history, making it all the more fascinating. Though the town looked like a trading outpost, it is positioned far from the sea and into the forest, making the likelihood of that rather small. The nearby Portuguese settlement of Malindi does not appear to have had any contact with the city either. And the greatest mystery of all is what happened to the city in the 17th century that caused its desertion.

There is a museum on-site as well as numerous guides at the location to take guests through the ruins and explore the ghostly ruins firsthand. 

Haller Wildlife Park

This small, private game sanctuary sits on the land of a quarry that was going unused until transformed into a greenspace. Completely stocked with hippo, giraffe, eland and more, this wildlife preserve is now thriving. Offering many walking trails, this ecologically educational trip is a welcome change and a pleasant place to pass an afternoon away from the beaches. 

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