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Gede ruins

Gedi is the lost city lying in the depth of Arabuko Sokoke forest. Nested in 45 acres of primeval forest, the ruins of Gedi reflect the unique architectural style and wealth of many Swahili towns of that period.

The Dated Tomb gives a positive indication of the year, A.H. 802, which translates to 1399 A.D.

From the 14th to 17th century, Gedi was a thriving community along the jungle coast of East Africa with around 2,500 wealthy inhabitants. This is evidenced by the presence of numerous ruins comprising of a conglomeration of mosques, stone houses and a magnificent palace which are all located in an ancient forest. Although no written records exist, excavations between 1948 and 1958 reveal that the Muslim inhabitants traded with people from all over the world. Some of the findings included beads from Venice, coins and a Ming vase from China, an iron lamp from India and scissors from Spain.

The houses of Gedi were complex for their time; they had bathrooms with drains and overhead basins to flush toilets. The city's streets were laid out at right angles and had drainage gutters. There are also wells which supplied water to the community. The material used to construct the buildings was coral reef from the nearby ocean.

In the early 17th century, the village was abandoned and the possible explanations are

-       The Wazimba raid along the East African coast

-       The falling water table as shown by the deepening of the well outside the Great Mosque

-       The continuous threats of the Galla nomads from Somalia

 

Gedi is the first intensively studied site on the coast starting from the time when it was first visited by Sir John Kirk, a British resident of Zanzibar in 1884.

It is unclear whether the actual name of the town was Gedi, Gede, or Kilimani. The Somali word "Gedi" means “travel or traveler”, but the town might have been named after the last Galla leader to camp on the site.

According to local tradition, the ruins are protected by the spirits of its priests. These "Old Ones" supposedly curse anyone who harms the site or removes anything.

It is well worth straying from the central Palace area and taking a walk around the old city walls along the nature trail. Many old gates and mosques can be seen, as well as a good variety of wildlife, if you are quiet. In the late afternoon it is decidedly spooky and it is not surprising that the locals believe the place to be haunted.

Gedi Ruins is a historical and archaeological site located between Mombasa and Malindi in Kenya’s Coast Province. Gedi lies 16km south of Malindi and 90 km north of Mombasa.

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