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Swahili House Museum, Lamu Old Town
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BEST

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KIDS

ADDRESS
Off Kenyatta Road
Lamu 80500
Coast Province, Kenya
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Museum
Architecture
 
 
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Swahili House Museum is a big hit with children as it depicts life in Lamu and provides insight to Swahili culture and traditions. A tour of this fully restored traditional stone house complete with period furniture and cookware yields a few secrets too. Did you know that the wikios or covered walkways that connect several of the old homes once enabled locals to move between houses without going out on the street?
Swahili Architecture Facts
Swahili carved wooden door

Swahili carved wooden door

Alfredo De Simone

 

There are lots of fun facts about Swahili architecture. Did you know that?

  • Traditional Swahili homes are made of coral stone, lime and sand.
  • Swahili stone houses are plain on the outside but richly decorated on the inside.
  • Traditional Swahili homes have an intricately carved wooden front door, the only eye-catching part of the exterior.
  • Swahili stone houses have elegantly decorated interiors complete with wall niches, elaborate plasterwork and painted ceilings.
  • Traditional Swahili homes have thick walls and high ceilings to help keep out the heat.
  • Swahili stone houses have flat roofs supported by painted mangrove poles.
  • Traditional Swahili homes have an interior courtyard called a kiwanda. It's the dwelling's principal source of the light and air as well as the focal point of family life.
  • Swahili stone houses have an entranceway complete with stone benches. It serves as the main reception area of the home.
  • Traditional Swahili homes have a wikio or room over the road that enabled residents to move from one house to another with going onto the street.
  • Swahili stone houses are built on a north-south axis and are oriented north to face Mecca.
 
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