Lamu, Kenya

Registration Year


Registered Sector

Lamu Old Town.

Historical Function

Earliest Seaport of call in East Africa, Continuous practices of Swahili Culture. Unique Swahili Architecture. Islamic centre in East Africa and annual religious festivals.

Administrative Status

District headquarters of Lamu region - Central Government.


Location and site

Lamu town is situated on Lamu island north of Mombasa (225miles) Conservation Area, Lamu town, Kenya.

Urban Morphology

Lamu Old Town was founded during 12th century. The town setup and the architecture reflect different stages of developments with Arabic influences of stone buildings within inner city of Lamu, extension areas within the peripherals of the town. Asian/European architectural significant buildings dominates the waterfront as a result of reclamation of land from sea in early 19th century.Lamu’s natural harbour as a distinct value to the settlement and availability of fresh water.

Buildings are mostly constructed of local building material such as quick lime for mortar and finishes, hardwood (terminalia) for structural /slab support and the unique interior design of buildings which are more inward looking.Narrow street formed between clusters of buildings which are of multi functional uses that of communication as well as play and meeting places for the Community.Covered street are built as extra occupancy to either side of parallel formed houses and acts as communication area for women between the houses during the daytime.

Registration Criteria

1. “ Criterion(ii) The architecture and urban structure Lamu graphically demonstrate the cultural influence that have come together there over several hundred years from Europe, Arabia and India, utilizing traditional Swahili techniques to produce a distinct culture”

2. “ Criterion(iv) The growth and decline of the seaports of East African coast and interaction between the Bantu, Arabs, Persians, Indians and Europeans represents significant cultural and economic phrase in the history the region which finds its most outstanding expression Lamu Old Town”

3. “ Criterion(vi) Its paramount trading role and its attraction for scholars and teachers gave Lamu an important religious function in the region. It continues to be significant centre for education in Islamic and Swahili culture.”


Mr. Abdu Kassim Ahmed Kassim Ahmed
Lamu City Council

Lamu, Kenya
P.O. box 74-80500
+254.42 63.35.17
+254.42 63.35.17
Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Hemed
Clerk to Council
Lamu County Council
P.O. Box 74
Lamu, Mombasa, Kenya
+254 722 954190
+254 042632057
Arq. Ahmed Omar Sagaff
Senior Conservation Officer
National Museums of Kenya
P.O. Box 48
Lamu, Kenya
+254.42 63.64.02