I have been on a mission to visit all the historical sites in Kenya. I’m not doing too badly so far but I could definitely do better. I was in the Kenyan Coast in December and on my to-do list was to visit the Jumba la Mtwana ruins.

Jumba la Mtwana is a picturesque ancient ruins village situated in Kilifi County. The site lies 15 kilometres north of Mombasa, 4 kilometres from the Mombasa-Malindi road and extends along the shore for a distance of about 300 meters and 250 meters inland.

It is pretty easy to access the ruins via public transport. You simply board a matatu heading to Mtwapa and get off at the last stop. We decided to stop by the supermarket to pick up some snacks and cold drinks. You can walk to the ruins (if you don’t mind the 4km distance) but we decided to take a bodaboda (a motorcycle taxi).

The journey by bodaboda took us 8 minutes. There are no signs on the road, at all – the National Museums of Kenya need to style up. The only sign is at the entrance of the ruins. Fortunately the route to the ruins is pretty straightforward and unless your sense of direction is as bad as mine, chances of getting lost are minimal.

We walked to the office and bought our tickets. They cost only 100 bob ($1).

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We then asked for a guide and were told that they usually don’t have one on Sundays. I was a bit bummed out but on the plus side we’d get to make up our own story. I would definitely love to go back and have a guide show me around.

Most of the information about the ruins I got from the National Museums of Kenya website.  There is a museum on site but hardly any information about the ruins in the museum. However, you do get to learn quite a bit about the Swahili culture and about other historical sites in East Africa. Once we were done with the museum we then went off to view the ruins.

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The ruins were much larger than I expected. Jumba la Mtwana is Swahili for “the large house of the slave”. From the name I had assumed it would be one large house.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy brother aka my partner in crime

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There is one main paved path that leads from the museum all the way to the beach. Feel free to wander from the path so as to properly explore the ruins.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the four mosques

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The ruins are generally a very pleasant place to visit even if you have no interest in history.

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After walking around for a bit I started to feel like I was in a different time and age. The ruins are surrounded by trees which were gently swaying in the wind.It was such a welcome relief to have a break from the sweltering heat.

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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 largest of the mosques faces the ocean.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe mosque by the sea

 

The town had been built in the fourteenth century but abandoned early in the fifteenth century. The dating is based on the presence of a few shards of early blue and white Chinese porcelain.

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After exploring the ruins we decided to take a walk on the beach.

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Next time I visit the ruins I am definitely carrying a picnic basket. There is a restaurant by the beach if you want to have a meal but I think having a picnic is so much better and cheaper. There is a grassy spot right underneath the palm trees that is the perfect spot to picnic.

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You can also swim since the beach is right there. It is best to wait when the tide is coming in, that way you can stick to the sandy shallows and avoid stepping on the coral.

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The beach was deserted so we had a bit of fun trying to capture the perfect jumping shot

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 For more detailed descriptions of the ruins you can read more here.

Linked to Noel Morata’s Travel Photo Mondays.

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15 Comments

  1. January 22, 2014 at 6:47 pm — Reply

    What a beautiful site to visit! That mosque looks like it would’ve made for a beautiful spot to worship. That beach looks like the kind of place I could just lounge at all day!
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted…Revisiting Rio in PicturesMy Profile

  2. keniamoja
    January 22, 2014 at 8:43 pm — Reply

    I have never heard of the place, thanks for highlighting the destination. Love the info of the baobab tree, I only learnt recently that the mabuyu come from the baobab tree.

  3. January 26, 2014 at 9:20 pm — Reply

    Hi Rachel, I think it such a great mission to see all historical sites in Kenya and it’s also great that you can share them with us. It must have been a picturesque scene seeing the mosque in its full glory standing by the beautiful beach. The immensity of the baobab trees is amazing. The water looks so clear and refreshing. I’ll be doing jump shots too if I’m on that heavenly beach. Lovely photos, as usual.
    Marisol@TravelingSolemates recently posted…Bhutanese Mask Dances at a Festival in BumthangMy Profile

  4. January 27, 2014 at 12:09 pm — Reply

    Great photos 🙂
    Muza-chan recently posted…Perfect scenery, SakurajimaMy Profile

  5. January 27, 2014 at 2:40 pm — Reply

    I always wanted to make it to Kenya and your story, photos and experience just reminded me of how much I want to visit it! Stunning palm trees, locals and sunshine!
    Agness recently posted…Unusual Portuguese Pavements In MacauMy Profile

  6. January 27, 2014 at 8:53 pm — Reply

    wow, what history and scenic location, thanks for the tour and also for joining us on #tpMondays
    noel recently posted…Distinctive towns of Hawaii Island, Travel Photo Mondays #29My Profile

  7. January 28, 2014 at 6:24 am — Reply

    What a post. I didn’t realize the ruins were next to the ocean until your first shot showing the sea. All of a sudden the ruins seemed so much more appealing. The beach photos are beautiful too, especially the jumping and hand stand shots 🙂 A picnic sounds wonderful.
    budget jan recently posted…Tuesday in Townsville Journey Into the Mist at Paluma RangeMy Profile

  8. January 31, 2014 at 6:46 am — Reply

    What a beautiful spot but for whatever reason I don’t associate Kenya with ruins that are hundreds of years old.
    You are doing a great job educating the rest of us about not only Kenya but its history.
    Leigh recently posted…5 Easy Cross Country Ski Trails in Banff National ParkMy Profile

  9. February 2, 2014 at 7:48 pm — Reply

    wow beautiful shots, I especially like the one from the Mosque on the Sea, stunning ! Looks like a very beautiful place, lots of nature. Great for a hike
    Freya recently posted…10 most Beautiful Fountains in RomeMy Profile

  10. February 4, 2014 at 1:27 am — Reply

    That is a beautiful beach..I can only imagine what the mosque and ruins were like back then. It’s so interesting to explore historical sites like that just to think about how long they’ve lasted. Gorgeous photos as always Rachel 🙂
    Samantha @mytanfeet recently posted…Top 6 Activities for Couples in Costa RicaMy Profile

  11. February 5, 2014 at 9:04 am — Reply

    Oh my God, So most Beautiful, Out Standing & most attractive Photography. I love these most Beautiful photography. In Fact I wanna know Camera name and model from you clicked this awesome pictures ? so please share name of camera and model no too.

  12. February 7, 2014 at 1:07 pm — Reply

    Kenya always surprises me. It has a lot to offer. I also like their Slogan ‘Hakuna matata’
    Jeff recently posted…5 Travel Tips that will Keep You and Your Family Safe on VacationMy Profile

  13. February 14, 2014 at 12:13 am — Reply

    I love that the ruins are right on the water’s edge. Your photos are stunning! Looks like you were really having fun!
    Corinne recently posted…Testosterone Prevails at Labuk BayMy Profile

  14. April 12, 2014 at 1:04 pm — Reply

    I wonder how they figured out that some of the buildings were a mosque and others were homes. That beach is beautiful. I especially like the first photo of the water where you show the circles on the surface.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted…Chiang Mai’s Golden Temple on the HillMy Profile

  15. […] is the second time I am writing about Jumba la Mtwana, you can read the first post here. I recently visited the ruins and got a chance to explore more and taken more photos which I […]

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