Lamu, Kenya

General Information

Regional secretariat


Administrative status

District headquarters of Lamu region - Central Government

Lamu Old Town

Registration Year


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.

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 dominate 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

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.

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.

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.



H.E Fahim Y. Twaha

Governor Lamu Country
Country Government of Lamu

P.O. BOX 74-80500
Lamu, Kenya

[email protected]

Ms. Linda Apiyo Mboya

Director of Communications
Lamu County

Lamu, Coast, Kenya

[email protected]

Mr. Mohammed Ali Mwenje

Heritage Inspector-Lamu World Heritage Site
National Museums of Kenya

Lamu, Coast, Kenya

[email protected]