The Gede Ruins also known as the Ruins of Gedi are a historical and archaeological site in the coast of Kenya near the Indian Ocean, this site is situated adjacent to the town of Gedi also known as Gede in Kilifi District and lies within the Arabuko – Sokoke Forest. Ruins of Gede are found north of Mombasa adjacent to Malindi Town. The ruins are about 16 kilometers south of Malindi Town and about 90 kilometers north of Mombasa Town, Kenya Safaris.
The Gede Ruins is one of the most famous and fascinating tourist attractions on the coast of Kenya, these ruins were established in the 15th century and they belonged to the Gede one of the many medieval Swahili coastal settlements stretching from Mogadishu, Somalia to the Zambezi River in Mozambique. So far there are 116 known Swahili sites stretching from southern Somalia to Vumba Kuu at the Kenya – Tanzania border.
The Gedi Ruins were rediscovered by the colonialists in the 1920s and since then, they have been one of the most intensively excavated and studied among the Swahili sites together with Shanga, Manda, Ungwana, Kilwa and the Comoros.
The Gede Ruins are remains of an ancient typical Swahili town that was built along the east Africa coastline, these ruins were reconstructed in the 15th and 16th century as a new town at the East African Coastline and the rebuilding of the town was attached to the emigration behavior of a number of Citizens Malindi, Kiwi to Mombasa and other coastal towns.
Due to the population of people that lived in the newly rebuild Gede Ruins, the town gained momentum and prospered in the 15th century and this is evidenced due to the existence of the mosque, the palace and houses which were dotted around the Arabuko – Sokoke Coast forest, these houses were made from stone and are one – story and were unevenly distributed in the town.
The town also includes a walled town and its outlying area, large open areas which contained earth and thatched houses, the stone pillar tombs in the ruins are a distinctive type of Swahili Coastal Architecture. In half of the 17th century, the town detorieted and it was abandoned.
The town was abandoned for many reasons and one of them was constant raids from the Congo tribe called the Waziba raids, as a result of these raids the Sheikh of Malindi joined by the Portuguese moved the town south in Mombasa. The Portuguese appreciated the sheikh for accepting to join them and he was made a sultan as a reward. Another reason to why the ruins failed, it was because of the overhanging threats by the Galla which were a hostile nomadic tribe from Somalia, among other factors that lead to the downfall of the town.
Through the years, the Gede Ruins have been critically studied and the first visit and analysis on these ruins was done in 1884 by the Sir John Kirk – a British resident staying in Zanzibar. in 1927 – the Gede ruins rehabilitated , reconstructed and there repairs on the damages caused by the falling water tables which deepened the well that was outside the great mosque were made in 1927. By 1948, the Gede ruin was transformed into a national park where an Archaeologist was put as the park warden.
Gede Ruins contains many significant features and items such as the Gede Ruins Monument which currently being taken care of by the national museum of Kenya, the original forest surrounding the Gede Ruins are refered to as a sacred site where traditional rituals and sacrifices are done by the surrounded community.
Visiting the Gede Ruins offer tourists an insight in the history of the Swahili and the Kenyan coast at large.
Architecture of the Gede Ruins
The Gede Ruins stretches over 45 acres (18 hectares) lieing in the primeval Arabuko – Sokoke Forest, this ancient town is divided by 2 walls with an outer wall enclosing 45 acres and an inner wall enclosing 18 acres.
With the inner wall there are 2 mosques, a palace (a sheikh’s house), 4 large pillar tombs comprising the urban core, these walls also encloses 4 other houses and 3 other mosques.
Between the inner and outer walls, there are a few walls that have been identified with the exception of 2 mosques. Immediately beyond the outer wall there is 1 mosque and several structures which are not identified.
In addition to the ruins being divided by the inner and outer walls, which created an urban core occupied by the site’s foremost buildings and areas of occupation between and outside of the outer wall.