Vasco da Gama Pillar puts Malindi on the world map

Vasco da Gama PillarVasco da Gama Pillar in Malindi, Kenya

The breeze is cool, refreshing and appealing. The scenery is tempting. The beauty of the ocean is evident here and one can be forgiven for failing to listen to the tour guide narrating the historical bit as the cool breeze easily carries one away.

During the evening you will find people winding the evening away as they feel the sea breeze warmth, except when it gets windy due to high tides.

Welcome to the famous Vasco da Gama Pillar situated at the Malindi seafront near the jetty.

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It is believed to be the oldest European monuments in Africa having been built in 1498 by Vasco da Gama – the great Portuguese explorer. This pillar has put Malindi in the books of history and adds in the many tourists attraction sites.

The Pillar is, in fact older than the Fort Jesus-one of Kenya’s World Heritage sites. It looks like a light house only that it does not have any lights in it.  Historical accounts indicate that the Portuguese would see the tower or pillar from far using binoculars as they approached the Malindi shore.

It is believed that the pillar was built to give the Portuguese sailing directions to India.  The traders who were Portuguese could see it from a far.

Other accounts have it that Vasco da Gamma built this pillar as a sign of appreciation to the hospitality he received from the ruler of that time, The Sultan.

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Vasco da Gama Pillar is under the management of the National Museums of Kenya, thus services are available as early as eight in the morning until six o’clock.  A tour guide is always available and willing to take visitors around giving them details of the history of the pillar and Malindi in general.

The monument is a major attraction to schools and students from across the country who usually make trips to this coastal tourist hub to learn more about the pillar’s history.  It is visited by both local and international tourists and historians.

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It is situated half a kilometer from the town centre. One can easily access it by foot, tuk tuk or taxi. The hospitality of the locals make it even easier to locate it as they are always willing to direct someone who is lost. A few meters from it is another tourist attraction, the Malindi Marine Park.

Visitors are strictly not allowed to climb the pillar, but can lean on it as they take photographs and read the plaque. Others use the spot as a fishing point for sports and relaxation.

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