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Situated on the coastline of the Indian Ocean, Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya and the nation’s largest sea port, with a population of over a million people. The city is one of Kenya’s most popular tourist destinations due to the region’s warm welcoming atmosphere, fascinating wildlife and wonderful tropical climate. Mombasa has a long and intriguing history and after occupation from several empires including the British, Portuguese and Arabs since the 16th century, the city has a diverse and unique culture. The region’s compelling heritage has been well preserved through the various historic buildings, landmarks and monuments found all over the city. Alongside the area’s wonderful historic structures are many excellent modern developments, which demonstrate how Mombasa is both a historic and modern metropolis.
Situated at the entrance to the city are the Mombasa Tusks, four huge aluminium elephant tusks, designed and erected to mark the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II to the region in 1952. The tusks are an appropriate sight upon entering the city as they are a symbol of Kenya’s magnificent wildlife and also form the letter M for Mombasa. When visitors aren’t relaxing on the glorious Tiwi Beach, a range of compelling attractions await them across the city.
One of Mombasa’s most popular and well-known attractions is the impressive Fort Jesus, constructed by the Portuguese during the 16th century and a truly colossal piece of astonishing architecture. Nowadays, the structure contains a fascinating museum with exhibits celebrating the history and culture of Mombasa as a seafaring region. The interior also contains well preserved torture rooms, prison cells and cannons from the original fort.
Mombasa’s old town is home to a variety of historic buildings, many of which reflect the city’s Arab-influenced past. The best way to experience the old town is with a local guide, who can quickly identify where the most significant attractions are found and the easiest ways to reach them safely, as the narrow streets are often packed with many vehicles and can often be rather chaotic.
The city’s Hindu temples represent Mombasa’s progressive and rich cultural diversity as well as being a popular tourist destination. Intricately detailed idols and magnificent stone carvings adorn these majestic temples and the temple gurus will often deliver talks about the history and culture of these places of worship.
A great selection of shops and markets are located all over the city of Mombasa, at which visitors can pick up a variety of locally produced gifts and souvenirs alongside useful general amenities. Popular locally-made items available in Mombasa include hand-made Mombasa sandals and colourful African fabrics.
The cultural diversity of Mombasa is clear in the culinary delights on offer throughout the city. Alongside the range of freshly caught seafood found in eateries all over the city, many speciality restaurants serving international cuisine including Indian, Chinese, Swahili, Italian and Korean dishes, are available with diverse and tempting menus.
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