Swahili Architecture

Swahili Architecture is the architecture of Swahili People. This include average homes, mosques, emporiums, organizational designs, and materials utilized.


Swahili towns reflected class structures. The well to do lived in the northern part of the town and less well to do the southern part. 


Swahili's built numerous mosque some with wood, coral blocks, and later stone blocks. Some mosques were built with wood. The mosque of Mombasa was built of wood. Ibn Batuta described Mombasa mosque as follows:

Their mosques are very strongly constructed of wood. Besides the door of each mosque are one of two wells, one or two cubits deep.

The Great Kilwa Mosque was built of stone.

Emporiums and Markets

One of the earliest examples of monumental Swahili Architecture is the Palace of Husuni Kubwa, a trade emporium, lying west of Kilwa, built about 1245. As with many other early Swahili buildings, coral was the main construction material, and the roof was constructed by attaching coral to timbers. It contained fluted conical vaults and domes, one hundred rooms with courtyards, terraces, and a sunken swimming pool. 

Swahilis at Ujiji, near Lake Tanganyika built rectangular warehouses with impressive verandahs.

Works Cited

Coquery-Vidrovitch, Catherine. The History of African Cities South of the Sahara. Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2005, pp. 44-45, ISBN 1-55876-303-1

Hull, Richard W. (1976). African Cities and Towns Before the European Conquest. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 0-393-05581-7