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Fort Jesus

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Fort Jesus is a Portuguese fortress in Mombasa Kenya, and an architectural marvel that was designed by an Italian architect, Batista Cairato, and was built by the Portuguese in 1593-1596.

The fort was built on a coral ridge next to Mombasa old port, with the main purpose of protecting the Portuguese trade route to India and their East African interest. A Portuguese explorer named Vasco Da Gama came to East Africa coast in 1498 and docked in Mombasa on his route to India. This led to a Portuguese settlement in Malindi, and for a hundred years, the settlement served as their northern headquarters and an unfortified ‘factory’.

In 1585 there was a Turkish invasion which propelled the Portuguese to move the settlement and Fort Jesus was built to secure the safety of Portuguese living on the East Coast of Africa. The Fort had a long history of hostilities of the interested parties that used to live in Mombasa. The fort served the Portuguese well in defending their settlement against the Omani Arabs attacks from 1696 to 1698.

Between 1837 and 1895, the British used the Fort as barracks for the soldiers. When the British protectorate was proclaimed on the 1st of July 1895, the Fort dark history continued, it was converted into a prison.

On 24th October 1958, The Kenyan government declared the Fort a National Park in the custody of the Trustees of the Kenya National Parks. The excavation was carried out and the Fort became a Museum in 1962. The Fort is now an important historical landmark in the East African region.

The Fortress Architecture is still intact, the layout of the Main Court is very much what it was in the past. On the left, in the museum is a line of barrack rooms, with another line on the right; the remains of a Church, with the Cistern beside it; beyond, are two landward bastions with the Cavaliers and from the outside, the gun turrets, and battle elements are still standing.

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