Structural forms enriched by such features as inner courtyards, verandas, and elaborately carved wooden doors.

Lamu Old Town is the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa, retaining its traditional functions. Built in coral stone and mangrove timber, the town is characterized by the simplicity of structural forms enriched by such features as inner courtyards, verandas, and elaborately carved wooden doors. Lamu has hosted major Muslim religious festivals since the 19th century, and has become a significant centre for the study of Islamic and Swahili cultures.

Brief synthesis
Lamu Old Town, located on an island known by the same name on the coast of East Africa some 350km north of Mombasa, is the oldest and best preserved example of Swahili settlement in East Africa.

With a core comprising a collection of buildings on 16 ha, Lamu has maintained its social and cultural integrity, as well as retaining its authentic building fabric up to the present day. Once the most important trade centre in East Africa, Lamu has exercised an important influence in the entire region in religious, cultural as well as in technological expertise. A conservative and close-knit society, Lamu has retained its important status as a significant centre for education in Islamic and Swahili culture as illustrated by the annual Maulidi and cultural festivals.
Unlike other Swahili settlements which have been abandoned along the East African coast, Lamu has continuously been inhabited for over 700 years.

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