At the shores of the Indian Ocean sits the ancient, sturdy and magnificent Fort. Yes! It’s Fort Jesus, with heights touching the heavens, roots that penetrate deep in the walls of history, dating as early as the sixteenth century and sits decently telling stories that can be heard as far as the east is from the west. Right before us is an old but impregnable arched entrance to the fort while smiling Musa Mansa, our guide, takes us through the pages of the historical books. Having set our cameras and ears, we were opened up to great memorabilia and stories that preceded and as well proceeded the Fort’s existence.
According to Musa Mansa, the mammoth edifice was designed by Giovanni Battista Cairati and built in 1593 by the Portuguese to secure the safety of the Port Mombasa on the East African coast. The largest part of the Fort was curved out of coral rock
Having been built in a time and place where politics, commerce and cultural globalization were emerging, this Fort with its massive structural integrity and the subsequent modifications that proceeded its construction, are significant enough to be a testimony of the interchange of cultural values that has been taking place, among the Europeans, Asians, and Africans. Portuguese introduced European architecture while constructing this Fort, and this has spread all over Old Town; arched entrances, a kind introduced by the Romans.
The design with its proportions and heavy thick walls with bastions reflecting the architectural spirit of the Renaissance period, a building culture developed in Europe. It all sums up that indeed Fort Jesus is an intersection of culture and history.