Return of the Gedi in Kenya

Near the small coastal town of Malindi in Kenya are some ruins the origins of which have both locals and archaeologists stumped.

Lying in the depths of the great Arabuko Sokoke Forest near to Kenya’s coastline, the Gedi Ruins is all that remains of a lost city dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, about which nothing is really known.  All that is really known is that it was a Swahili town and that it contained palaces, mosques and many individual dwellings, plus elaborate tombs and more mundane cemeteries, and that it was occupied for almost three centuries before being abandoned sometime in the 16th Century. Warring factions are believed to have been a possible cause for Gedi’s ultimate demise, as it was caught in the general crosswords of past struggles between cultures in Mombasa and Malindi.  

It appears that Gedi was a prosperous place, and the population was probably doing business with Arab traders as artefacts from as far afield as China, India, Venice and Spain have been recovered there.  Given that some trade must have taken place, it is strange that no written record of the city exists. Apparently, the entire town was suddenly abandoned by all of its residents, leaving it to overtaken by forest vegetation. Strangely, there are no signs of battle, plague, disturbance or any cause for this sudden desertion.

The Gedi Ruins were declared a National Park in 1948, and the site is now open to visitors.  For those visiting the beaches and marine parts around Malindi and Watamu the Gedi Ruins offer an interesting diversion.  Day trips to the Gedi Ruins can be arranged easily in Watamu, Malindi, and Mombasa. Gedi remains a mysterious and atmospheric place to visit.  Besides your transportation, a trip here costs little to nothing at all, which makes it one of the more affordable tourist attractions in Kenya. Today there is an excellent museum and well trained guides on hand to take visitors through the ruins.

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