Fort Jesus Mombasa Day Trip 2024/25

Fort Jesus Tour Mombasa

Discover the culture and history of Mombasa this enchanting tour of Fort Jesus and the Mombasa old town as you walk through Mombasa’s past and present.


  • Take a guided tour of Fort Jesus and learn about its history
  • Stroll through the narrow streets of the old town and the spice market
  • Enjoy a mouthwatering lunch at one of the best restaurants in town
  • Drive along the famous Mama Ngina drive towards the Elephants Tusks landmark
Fort Jesus Tour Mombasa


You are picked up from your hotel and drive through the city center to the historical old town of Kibokoni where you will find the famous Fort Jesus Museum.

The Fort Jesus was designed by the Italian architect Giovanni Battista and was built between 1593 and 1596 by the order of King Philip of Portugal to guard the old port of Mombasa. Experience this iconic monumental Museum. Cairato, the designer of the fort, was inspired by Italian architect Pietro Cataneo while the master builder was Gaspar Rodrigues.

The fort was Cairato’s last overseas work. Although the design of Fort Jesus is an example of Renaissance architecture the masonry techniques, building materials and labour are believed to have been provided by the local Swahili People.

The fort was built in the shape of a man (viewed from the air) and is roughly square, with four bulwarks at its corners. The fort is considered a masterpiece of late Renaissance military fortification.

Fort Jesus was captured and recaptured at least nine times between 1631, when the Portuguese lost it to the Sultan Yusuf Ibn Al-Hassan of Mombasa, and 1895 when it fell under British rule and was converted into a prison.

The capture of the fort marked the end of Portuguese presence on the Kenya Coast, although they briefly captured and re-occupied it between 1728 and 1729 with the help of the Swahili City states.

The fort fell under local rule from 1741 to 1837, when it was again captured by the Omanis and used as a barracks, before its occupation by the British in 1895, after the declaration of the Protectorate of Kenya.

Fort Jesus bears testimony to the first successful attempt by Western civilization to rule the Indian Ocean trade routes, as until then had remained under Eastern influence.

After completion the fort quickly became a vital asset when desiring to control Mombasa Island and the surrounding trade routes and was won and lost 9 times during various battles for the control of Kenya between 1631 and 1875 before finally resting with the British. It is said that no other Fort in Africa experienced as much turbulence as Fort Jesus due to its vitally strategic positioning.

Once built, the fort was altered by the controlling Nationals and today it shows clear elements from the major powers that held it, including the British, Portuguese and the Oman Arabs.

The British and Portuguese influence is seen in the various cannons found on the Island while the Oman Arabs marked their occupation with Koran inscriptions into the wooden door posts and ceiling beams. A Muslim influence can also be seen throughout the fort in the use of the 5 pillars and is seen most clearly in the former meeting hall that is supported by 5 stone pillars that reach to the ceiling.

Fort Jesus was declared a national park in 1958, and in 2011, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and highlighted as one of the most outstanding and well-preserved examples of 16th-century Portuguese military fortifications. The Fort is Mombasa’s most visited tourist attraction.

Later, pass through the Mombasa Club, Africa Hotel, Mandhry Mosque, Government Square, entering the Old Port and continuing towards the Old Spice Market. Walk past the old colonial houses and mosques as you discover the culture and origins of the city.

Stop for lunch at one of the restaurants. Observe the Likoni Ferry channel which connects the North to the South Coast, then stop at the famous Pembe za Ndovu Elephant Tusk sculpture which can be found on the back of the Kenyan currency.

Continue the Akamba Handicraft market, which is the local association of handicraft artisans that manages the production and sale of wooden carvings and other souvenirs in Mombasa. Return to your accommodation.


  • Round-trip private transportation
  • All fees and taxes
  • Fort Jesus entrance fee and guide.
  • Services of a driver cum guide.

Not suitable for

  • Pregnant women
  • Wheelchair users

A Brief History of Fort Jesus, Kenya’s Portuguese Fortress

Fort Jesus was built by the Portuguese towards the end of the 16th century (1593-1596) on the coastline near Old Town Mombasa. Mombasa was a transit place for trade at that time and a gateway to India, and the fort was built to protect the town from outside invaders.

Today, it has grown to become one of the most visited areas in Mombasa and is on our list of top things to do in Old Town Mombasa.

Built by the Portuguese at the end of the 16th century at the southern edge of the town of Mombasa, over a spur of coral rock, and kept under their control for one century, Fort Jesus, Mombasa, bears testimony to the first successful attempt by Western civilization to rule the Indian ocean trade routes, which, until then had remained under Eastern influence. The design of the fort, with its proportions, its imposing walls and five bastions, reflects the military architectural theory of the Renaissance.

Fort Jesus, Mombasa, bears physical witness, in its structures and subsequent transformations, also to the interchange of cultural values and influences between and among peoples of African, Arab, Turkish, Persian and European origin that fought to gain and maintain their control over this strategic port.

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