Fort Jesus is a Portuguese fort built in 1593 by order of King Philip II of Spain ( King Philip I of Portugal ), then ruler of the joint Portuguese and Spanish Kingdoms, located on Mombasa Island to guard the Old Port of Mombasa, Kenya. It was built in the shape of a man (viewed from the air), and was given the name of Jesus, after Shaikh Isa Bin Tarif Al Bin Ali Al Utbi conquered the fort in 1837 after being asked for assistance by Sayyid Said Bin Sultan , Sultan of Oman. The name Jesus in Arabic means Isa, therefore it means the Fort of Isa ( Isa Bin Tarif ). Isa Bin Tarif , Chief of the Al Bin Ali Al Utbi Tribe , is a descendant of the original uttoobee conquerors of Bahrain. The Al Bin Ali were a politically important group that moved backwards and forwards between Qatar and Bahrain, they were the original dominant group of Zubara area , they were also known for their courage, persistence, and abundant wealth.
Fort Jesus is Mombasa’s most popular tourist attraction. The fort, located along the coastline near the Old Town, is a monumental piece of architecture that was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. The fort has a museum that displays various artifacts from the era where Mombasa served as a transit point for the slave trade and commodities, and which enjoyed regular visits by seafarers and the like. Its interior comprises of torture rooms and prison cells where slaves were kept in captivity before being traded. Weapons such as canons, which were used to defend the fort from invading foreigners as well as rioting locals, can be seen both inside and outside of the fort. The fort opens its gates for viewing in the morning and closes at dusk.