World Heritages in Kenya

Lamu Old Town (World Heritage)

The old town of Lamu reflects the varied history of the island of the same name and its cultural heritage in a variety of ways. In the Middle Ages, Lamu was the center of an Islamic Swahili culture. From 1500 the city came under Portuguese rule, which was replaced by Oman at the end of the 18th century. As an important trading hub, influences from Arabia, Europe and India mixed with Swahili culture, which was also reflected in the cityscape. Richly decorated front doors and inner courtyards are typical, for example.

Lamu Old Town: Facts

Official title: Lamu old town
Cultural monument: Old town Lamu on the coral island of the same name, also “stone town”; oldest and best preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa; Arab cityscape with wood carvings and wickerwork of the Swahili culture; Building materials including broken corals and mangroves; numerous mosques, spiritual and religious center for the Islamic and Swahili culture on the East African coast
Continent: Africa
Country: Kenya
Location: Lamu on the island of Lamu, off the coast of Kenya in the Indian Ocean
Appointment: 2001
Meaning: Exceptionally closed and unadulterated cityscape in Arabic style; Center of Islamic Swahili culture on the East African south coast

Sacred Forests of Mijikenda (World Heritage)

The world heritage includes several forest areas on the Kenyan coast, the so-called Kayas of the Mijikenda, a tribe that immigrated from the north in the 16th century. These forests were of great religious importance and were strictly protected by the Mijikenda. Even though most of the villages are now deserted, the Kayas have remained sacred places of ancestor worship. At the same time, they are evidence of cultural traditions and unique biological reserves.

Sacred Forests of Mijikenda: Facts

Official title: Kayas (Sacred Forests) of the Mijikenda
Cultural monument: Fortified villages of the Mijikenda people in the rainforest areas of eastern Kenya near the coast of the Indian Ocean including the surrounding forests; ethnic group consisting of nine tribes, immigrated from what is now Somalia in the 16th century; since then until the middle of the 20th century. Establishment of well-fortified, round, palisade-shaped village complexes, so-called »kayas«, on forest clearings; Burial of the dead and worship of the ancestors and gods in the protected forest areas around the Kayas; no more settlement since 1940, the kayas are only used as holy places for cult and religious purposes; World heritage site with eleven of approx. 30 still existing kayas and the surrounding forests (area between 0.3 and 3 km²)
Continent: Africa
Country: Kenya
Location: Coastal Province, Eastern Kenya
Appointment: 2008
Meaning: Unique, centuries-old spiritual places; outstanding embedding of religious and mythical sites and practices in the form of settlement and in the natural environment; Protection of a people’s traditions and cultural identity; Preservation of threatened alluvial forest regions and their biodiversity

Rift Valley Lakes (World Heritage)

The world heritage includes Bogoria, Nakuru and Elementaita lakes in the Rift Valley, which is part of the East African Rift Valley. The fish-rich lakes are a unique natural paradise and habitat for numerous species of birds. Over 100 species of migratory birds rest and hibernate here, including a number of Central European species. At Lake Nakuru there is also a sanctuary for rhinos and the Rothschild giraffe, which is only native to western Kenya and Uganda.

Rift Valley Lakes: Facts

Official title: Lakes of the Rift Valley
Natural monument: 320 km² area of ​​the three interconnected alkaline lakes Bogoria, Nakuru and Elementaita and their surroundings in the Kenyan province of the Great Rift Valley; Region with one of the largest concentrations of bird species in the world; Home to 450 bird species, 13 of which are endangered worldwide, habitat of 1.5 million Lesser Flamingos and breeding area of ​​the great white pelican, cormorants and herons; large populations of various mammal species such as black rhinoceros, Rothschild giraffe, greater kudu, lion, cheetah and hyena; bizarre, wild rocky landscape with steep steps and extinct volcanoes due to tectonic and volcanic movements
Continent: Africa
Country: Kenya, see itypeusa
Location: Nakuru, western Kenya
Appointment: 2011
Meaning: Unique natural sight and world-wide outstanding diversity of bird species in an area of ​​overwhelming beauty; unique landscape due to volcanic formations and geological activity; ongoing ecological and biological processes with the possibility of studying evolutionary processes and the development of alkaline ecosystems

World Heritages in Kenya