The Gedi ruins are one of Kenya’s great mysteries. Set in an idyllic location on the Indian Ocean, and buried deep in a lush forest, the town was thought to have been founded in the early 13th-century. But what has really baffled researchers is the well-established town’s mysterious abandonment and incredible development.
However, it is not only the quality of the ruins that amazes visitors but the advanced nature of the settlement. Left standing today are numerous coral-brick houses, a palace as well as an impressive mosque. Gedi was in many ways, a very advanced city with streets, running water and flushing toilets. Correcting the assumption that Africa was far behind the rest of the world before colonialism.
Head north from Mombasa towards Malindi, Gedi is 65 miles north of Mombasa and about 10 miles south of Malindi.
The full name Jumba la Mtwana means in Swahili “the large house of the slave”. Within this area four mosques, a tomb and four houses have survived in recognizable condition. These houses include the House of the Cylinder, The House of the Kitchen, The House of the Many Pools, which had three phases, and the Great Mosque. The inhabitants of this town were mainly Muslims as evidence by a number of ruined mosques.
Outside the hall is a large skeleton of a sperm whale, a reminder of trade in ambergris, a secretion in the intestines of the sperm whale used to manufacture perfume.
The site lies some 15 kilometers north of Mombasa on and above the beach some 1000 meters north of the mouth of Mtwapa creek; 4 kilometers from the Mombasa-Malindi road and extends along the shore for a distance of about 300 meters and 250 meters inland.
For those keen on taking a pilgrimage, the historical town of Malindi in Kilifi, lying at the mouth of the River Galana along the Indian Ocean Coast of Kenya, is one of the most memorable places to visit. The resort town is best known for the Vasco da Gama Pillar, a bell-shaped monument built by the Portuguese in 1498.
This monument is one of the oldest European cenotaphs built on the East African coast in 1498 amid Muslim resistance. More impressive for what it represents (the genesis of the Age of Exploration) than the edifice itself.
It was built by the Portuguese to give direction for those following the sea route to India. Da Gama was a Portuguese explorer and navigator, the first person to sail directly from Europe to India. His discovery of the sea route to India made it possible for the Portuguese to establish a long-running colonial empire in Asia.