Lamu Old Town (2001)

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Kenya 2002. Historical Sites of East Africa. Lamu.

Lamu Old Town is the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa, retaining its traditional functions. 

Built in coral stone and mangrove timber, the town is characterized by the simplicity of structural forms enriched by such features as inner courtyards, verandas, and elaborately carved wooden doors. 

Lamu has hosted major Muslim religious festivals since the 19th century, and has become a significant centre for the study of Islamic and Swahili cultures. 

  • Kenya 2002. Historical Sites of East Africa. Lamu. 

In its justification for inscription the UNESCO states that the architecture and urban structure Lamu graphically demonstrate the cultural influences that have come together there over several hundred years from Europe, Arabia, and India, utilizing traditional Swahili techniques to produce a distinct culture. 

The growth and decline of the seaports on the East African coast and interaction between the Bantu, Arabs, Persians, Indians, and Europeans represents significant cultural and economic phase in the history of the region which finds its most outstanding expression in Lamu Old Town. Its paramount trading role and its attraction for scholars and teachers gave Lamu an important religious function in the region. It continues to be a significant centre for education in Islamic and Swahili culture.

Other World Heritage Sites on Kenya (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Kenya section for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 20 jul 2006  
Copyright 1999 Heindorffhus 
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