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Background

In centuries gone by, in the genteel town of Mombasa, people wore clothes made of silk and gold. The walled 'City of Moors' as it was called, was an inner sanctum for the people, situated just by the bay of Mombasa - where the merchants of old, using the power of the winds sailed their wooden dhows to and from lands as far away as China, India and Arabia.

Then the winds of change began to blow and with them came the new conquistadors - the Portuguese. Vasco da Gama sailed into Mombasa in 1498 but never set foot on the island. The ruler of the sultanate must have foreseen the consequences of letting in strange people. Years later, the Omani Arabs gained control of the East Coast and the dhows began to sail again from the east and once again, the inhabitants started to build their houses along the old harbour by the fort.

The merchants of the eastern seas came and went, some stayed and settled and built their houses and one of the most ornate features of that era, are the carved wooden doors of the East African Coast.

 
Location
Kenya coast in Mombasa
 
Main Attractions

A cross-section of the Mombasa Old TownIn this old town, gilded in history, the narrow lanes full of people and wares bustles with a pulse of its own. In 1895, an Indian merchant, from Cutch in southeast India, set up shop to sell sweet meat opposite McKinnon Market. It still stands under the hot and humid air under the bluest of skies. Business is as usual.

The narrow streets are filled with houses with the most ornate doors, in the same carvings copied from the dhows. One narrow lane leads to another. Goldsmith trade still flourishes here, serving a clientele of Swahili, Arabs and Indians with the most intricate of gold jewellery.

The muezzin can be heard calling out for the noon prayers and the faithful close work for prayers. Women in black bui buis flit through the alleys, shopping for perfumes, gold, meat, vegetables, spices.

 
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