The Portuguese built Fort Jesus in 1593. The site chosen was a coral ridge at the entrance to the harbor. An Italian architect and engineer, Joao Batista Cairato designed the Fort. Fort Jesus was built to secure the safety of Portuguese living on the East Coast of Africa. It has had a long history of hostilities of the interested parties that used to live in Mombasa. Perhaps no Fort in Africa has experienced such turbulence as Fort Jesus.
Omani Arabs attacked the Fort from 1696 to 1698. The state of the Fort can be understood from the plan of Rezende of 1636 and other plans by Don Alvaro' Marquis of Cienfuegas and Jose' Lopes de Sa, made during the brief reoccupation by the Portuguese between 1728 - 1729. Between 1837 - 1895, the Fort was used as barracks for the soldiers. When the British protectorate was proclaimed on the 1st of July, 1895, the Fort was converted into a prison.
On the 24th of October, 1958, Fort Jesus was declared a national entity in the custody of the Trustees of the Kenya National Parks. Excavation was carried out, and the Fort became a Museum in 1962.
Local Bazaars, Business District, Mwembe Tayari/Kuku And The Walk Through Town:
Mombasa's business district is a unique experience. The methods of conducting commerce are on the opposite extreme of what would be considered acceptable in western nations. The shops along Mombasa's Digo road sell anything from locally made safari shoes to imported Calvin Klein jeans. The walk through the winding roads displays street hawkers selling vegetables and fruits organically grown in their small shamba's (small farms). The houses built along these roads are made from coral-concrete. Mwembe Tayari literally means "ready mangoes". Here you will see vendors approved by city council selling all kinds of meats, vegetables and fruits. These days, vendors outside the market sell used clothing brought from western countries.