- Start Gede ruins entrance
- Finish Gede ruins museum
- Length 1.5km; one to 1½ hours
Gede is Kenya's most visitor-friendly archaeological site. Most of the excavated buildings are concentrated near the entrance, but there are dozens of other ruins scattered through the forest.
On your right as you enter the compound is the Dated Tomb, so called because of the inscription on the wall, featuring the Muslim date corresponding to 1399. Near it, inside the wall, is the Tomb of the Fluted Pillar, which is characteristic of such pillar designs found along the East African coast.
Past the tomb, next to the House of the Long Court, the Great Mosque is one of Gede’s most significant buildings. The entrance was on the side of a long rectangular prayer hall, with the mihrab (prayer niche that faces Mecca) obscured behind rows of stone pillars.
Behind the mosque are the ruins of an extensive palace. One of the most interesting things found within the ruins was an earthenware jar containing a fingo (charm), thought to attract djinns (guardian spirits) who would drive trespassers insane. The palace also has a particularly fine pillar tomb; its hexagonal shape is unique to East Africa.
Just off to the right from the palace is a tree with steps leading high up into its canopy for a bird’s-eye view of the site.
Along the path past the tomb are around 11 old Swahili houses. They’re each named after particular features of their design, or objects found in them by archaeologists, such as the House of Scissors and the House of the Iron Lamp. The House of the Cistern is particularly interesting, with ancient illustrations incised into the plaster walls.
The other excavations include the House of the Dhow, the House of the Double Court and the nearby Mosque of the Three Aisles, which has the largest well at Gede. On the way out you’ll find an excellent little museum.