Kenya’s Architectural Gems

Kenya has a number of iconic buildings dating across the centuries that have been recognized for their distinctive designs. To catch a glimpse of Kenya’s architectural gems, we suggest you tour the following places:

Fort Jesus- Mombasa

This fort built by the Portuguese in the 16th century tops our list due to its significance in Kenyan history. Classified as one of UNESCO’s World’s Heritage Sites, Fort Jesus is a showcase of exceptional and long lasting architectural design.

Now maintained by the National Museums of Kenya, it remains in great condition, the only alteration being the blocking of a labyrinth of underground tunnels that were used to transport goods to the seafront.


A section of Fort Jesus facing the Indian Ocean

Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC)

This impressive landmark along City Hall Way was completed in 1974. Designed by a Norwegian architect Karl Henrik Nostvik, the buildings include a 25 storey dome with a revolving rooftop that currently serves as a restaurant, and an ampi-theater shaped like a Kenyan hut. The building’s air conditioning consists of eco-friendly fins that let in fresh air.

The Iconic KICC building in the heart of Nairobi

The Iconic KICC building in the heart of Nairobi

Kipande House

This Victorian styled architectural gem was constructed in 1913. Special features include the clock-tower design and the imposing arches. It was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its historical significance. The ‘Kipande’ was an identification card issued to adult locals in colonial Kenya and this building served as the registration center.

Kipande House Nairobi

Kipande House Nairobi

Lamu Old Town

Part of Lamu Island’s charm is its well preserved Swahili Stone buildings. Once East Africa’s main trade town, Lamu’s narrow streets are lined with elaborate structures built from coral stones, timber and coconut thatch rooftops.

Unique features of these buildings include large verandas, courtyards and intricately engraved wooden doors. These over 500-year old collection of buildings make our list of Kenya’s architectural gems as well as the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list.

A cross Section of the Old Lamu Town

A cross Section of the Old Lamu Town

All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi

Located along Kenyatta Avenue, this gothic styled Anglican Cathedral was built between 1917 and 1952. With a high ribbed ceiling, central arches and beautiful stained glass windows, All Saints Cathedral exudes a distinctive English charm. This makes it an ideal location for a Victorian themed wedding and a worthy visit for architecture enthusiasts.


Parliament Buildings

The Kenyan National Assembly sits in another of the country’s most captivating architectural installations. Built between 1954 and 1965, the buildings were designed by Thornly Dyer and Amyas D. Connell. Their most unique features are the clock tower that resembles London’s famous Big Ben and the monumental mausoleum where Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta was laid to rest.


Other buildings that exemplify Kenyan architecture include the bell bottomed Co-op House in Nairobi, Sarakasi Dome, Kenya Railways Headquarters and The Sarova Stanley.