Away from the coastal town of Mombasa at Watamu is Gedi ruins. Hidden under the glares of ancient rain forest on the North Coast of Mombasa toward turning to Malindi lays an abandoned ancient Swahili town known as Gedi Ruins.
On arrival one is welcomed by several guides that are mostly freelance locals from around the surrounding towns. Interestingly, most of the local can speak the a foreign language mainly Italian just like their mother tongue. Our guide informs us that most of the investors around the region are Italians.
The Great Mosque
Gedi is one of Kenya’s great unknown treasures. A wonderful lost city laying in the depth of Arabuko Sokoke forest. The town is said to date back to the 15th Century. The town was rehabilitated by the National Museums and was declared a national monument in 1948. The town walls and foundations can still be seen todate. Gedi was abandoned in the early 18th century. In 1927 Gedi was Gazzetted as a historical monument.
These was a small town built entirely of stone and coral. The ruins are confusing and partly haunting. Ancient stone floors and deserted houses seat silently while birds and butterflies drift through the city’s air. Baobab trees can be seen having grown way past the walls. The city is believed to have had a population of 2,500 people. Left standing today are, several coral brick houses, mosques, a palace ruin tombs. The Great mosque believed to date back to the mid 15th century is one of the main attractions and of great interest. It is believed that the town had eight mosques.
There is evidence of a pulpit where the Imam used to give sermons to the residents. There is evidence of a relatively rich town. The size of several houses that depicts wealth of the people at this town. There are large numbers of wells that a quit deep meaning it had running water. There are well built bathrooms with bath tubs and squatting toilets all made of stone can be seen within the ruins. Those living within the inner most part of the town were the wealthiest people. The dated tomb has a date engraved on it indicating the Islamic and Christian calendar 802AH/1399AD. It is believed that the town was inhabited twice but the second time the town did not regain her economic status. The story is that the town was abandoned due to dry wells. The water in the wells is believed to have changed from its normal taste to sweet, salty and finally the wells dried up.
The facility is run by the National Museums of Kenya hence there is also a museum within the city. Inside the museum there are excavations from the town 1948-1958, that were recovered, many that are Persian, Chinese, glass and glazed earthen ware indicating not only trade links but a taste for good life among the Swahili elites. The ruins make for one of the popular tourist destination.
Other areas within the Gedi Ruins that tourist get to visit :-
The tomb of the fluted pillar
The house of Cisten
The Reception court
The Women Court
The Mens Court
Pillar Tomb :- Indicating where the leaders and prominent people were buried.
House of the Chinese Cash :- believed to have been the peoples bank.
House of the Venetian Bead
House of the Iron Lamp
House of Scissors
House of the sunken court
House of cowries
North Gate: Indicate a perimeter wall that separated the locals from the Gedi town community.