12 Historical Sites In Nairobi, Kenya - Updated 2024

12 Historical Sites In Nairobi, Kenya - Updated 2024
| 6 min read

Having shaken off the clutches of colonialism in 1963, Nairobi, or Kenya for that matter, may not be as old as, say, Rome or London. However, from the time the British landed to long after independence, many historical sites were established that help narrate the city’s story, one that started as a train stop. For anyone visiting any destination, it is a good idea to pay homage to the heritage of a place. Try and learn all you can about the historic built environment in Nairobi and its past as well as open your eyes to what drives Kenya’s capital. You can also choose among the best hotels and vacation rentals if you’re still not sure of where to stay. For a blast into the past, we’ve listed historical sites in Nairobi.

1. All Saints’ Cathedral

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Immerse Yourself in the Message, and Embrace the Movement. #ImpactingGenerations

Posted by All Saints' Cathedral Nairobi on Saturday, February 11, 2023

All Saints’ Cathedral was founded on February 3, 1917, to build a permanent church in Nairobi. However, from 1934 until the Second World War, only the Chancel Arch was built from the entire structure.

After an appeal to complete the building in 1924, the structure was completed to its present state and declared sacred by Bishop R. P. Crabbe in 1952. It is built in the English-Gothic style of architecture and consists of a bell and an organ tower. It also houses the Main Sanctuary and Trinity Center, which hosts conferences, dinners, weddings, and more.

All Saints’ Cathedral

Address: Kenyatta Ave, Nairobi, Kenya

Website: All Saints’ Cathedral

Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)

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2. Kaloleni Social Hall

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Built between 1943 and 1948 by Italian prisoners of war, Kaloleni Social Hall is of great historical significance. It was a part of the Kaloleni Estate and was declared a national monument in 2015. The hall is an important part of the country’s heritage as it has been a launchpad for several movements during the independence struggle.

The structure is made of stone walls and Mangalore tiled roofs, and it was initially built as an activity area where locals could spend their leisure time. Presently, it houses a main and small hall, and the latter is rented to evangelical churches for use.

Kaloleni Social Hall

Address: PR3V+JQG, Nairobi, Kenya

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8am - 5pm; Sat: 9am - 12pm (closed on Sun)

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3. Nairobi National Museum

Nairobi National Museum
Source: Barry Juma

As with any other museum, the Nairobi National Museum may not be considered a historical site in itself, but the fact that it houses numerous artifacts of historical significance earns it a spot on this list. If you’re interested in learning about the country’s various communities, there’s a permanent exhibition on Kenya’s heritage just for you.

However, perhaps the most impressive exhibits are in the early man section, where actual fossils, discovered in the country, are displayed. This includes the fossil of a proconsul that dates back 18 million years, which encouraged archaeologists to consider Kenya as the birthplace of humankind.

Nairobi National Museum

Address: Kipande Rd, Nairobi

Website: Nairobi National Museum

Opening hours: 8:30am - 5:30pm (daily)

Price: 12 USD (adults) 6 USD (under 16 yrs)

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4. Nairobi Railway Museum

Nairobi Railway Museum
Source: Barry Juma

This museum is probably the most important to Nairobi since the city started off as a railway depot. The museum itself is housed in former East African Railway offices, buildings that look and feel very pre-colonial. Still, it is the exhibits here that will fascinate you: each one paints a picture of the city’s heritage. From old, disused trains to railway artifacts, there is no doubt that this museum is an important historical site in the city.

Also, get to learn about the man-eating lions of Tsavo, which got a taste for human flesh during the construction of the Mombasa - Nairobi railway in the late 1800s. The very carriage from which a British superintendent was dragged by these beasts is on display here.

Nairobi Railway Museum

Address: Railway Station, Nairobi

Website: Nairobi Railway Museum

Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 10 USD

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Nairobi Tour Guide

Lewenei Japhet

Lewenei Japhet

I am 26, born and raised in Kenya. In the year 2015, I started my journey in the Travel & Tour Industry :- Tour Consultancy and Safari guiding. I established Happy Feet Travel in 2019 and have been operating private and small group tours in Kenya and Tanzania - planning, organizing, guiding and leading the ultimate, unique and exclusive safari to key destinations in East Africa. I have great passion in travel and wildlife photography. The joy of showing someone my country and making sure all their expectations are met fulfills me. Kenya, s tourism product is very wide from wildlife and bird watching safaris, marine life, eco and agro tourism, city tours and short excursions, exhibition and conferencing all the way to adventure tourism and beach holidays. The main attractions are the Wildebeest migration of Maasai Mara, Samburu, Mt. Kenya, Amboseli, Tsavo, South coast the list is endless the best is to match up your interest with the destinations. Kenyans have very friendly people, the culture is cosmopolitan in major towns though some other parts they are still very traditional and reserved, its all good as they are quite an attraction. whilst here make sure to visit some cultural villages, craft shops etc. its a way of supporting this communities. Karibu kenya!

Tours by Lewenei

5. Nairobi Gallery - Old PCs Office

Nairobi Gallery
Source: Photo by Flickr user Regina Hart used under CC BY 2.0

What today is referred to as the Nairobi Gallery, was once the colonial government’s office, built in 1913. It was strategically set up at the very center of Nairobi, probably for quick access to every corner of the city. During that era, the colonial Governor used this office as his base of operations, the main tasks being to register births, deaths, and marriages.

The office served its function until 1983 when it was transformed into what it is today, a gallery of sculptures, artifacts, and paintings that showcase the diversity of Africa’s communities. There’s a lot of history to learn here, so make sure you drop by.

After a day of exploring this historical site, spend some quality time with your loved ones at one of the scenic picnic spots available in the area.

Nairobi Gallery

Address: Kenyatta Ave, Nairobi

Website: Nairobi Gallery

Opening hours: 8:30am - 5:30pm (daily)

Price: 10 USD adults, 5 USD children below 16 yrs

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6. Karen Blixen Museum

Karen Blixen's library [credit: Make it Kenya, Stuart Price, Flickr]
Source: Photo by Flickr user Regina Hart used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

If you’ve heard of the book ‘Out of Africa’, you probably know of Karen Blixen, its author. This eponymous museum used to be her home and it was built in 1912, but it wasn’t until 1917 that Karen bought the property, which came with a coffee plantation. Then, after Karen’s book was turned into a movie, (which was a worldwide hit, by the way), this home, which now belongs to the Kenyan government, was turned into a museum. Get the book, if you haven’t already, watch the film and visit the Karen Blixen Museum. The original, early 1900s decor has been maintained and props from the movie have been used to keep the spirit of Karen and her life’s work alive.

Karen Blixen Museum

Address: Karen Rd, Nairobi

Website: Karen Blixen Museum

Opening hours: 8:30am - 5:30pm (daily)

Price: 12 USD adults, 6 USD children under 16 yrs

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7. McMillan Memorial Library

Mcmillan exterior
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under PD

This public library is a particularly conspicuous historical building in Nairobi because of its discernible architecture. Its facade is of Nairobi bluestone and lion sculptures welcome you at the entrance as if standing guard.

Built by the McMillan family, its doors were officially opened in 1931 by the colonial Governor. Its neo-classical design is reminiscent of old British architecture. During the colonial period, this was a European-only library but it is, today, open to all who love books.

After some time spent reading and daydreaming, reward yourself with a delicious meal and a cold drink at one of the best restaurants available in the area.

McMillan Memorial Library

Address: Banda Street, Nairobi, Kenya

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 7am - 6pm (closed on Sun)

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8. Uhuru Gardens Memorial Park

Nairobi's skyline from Uhuru Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jorge Láscar used under CC BY 2.0

The word Uhuru is Swahili for freedom and it is here that the festivities began after the country attained its freedom from Britain. The Kenyan flag, for the very first time, was hoisted at this park, earning it a very significant place in Kenya’s history. Various monuments dot the landscape of Uhuru Gardens, each one with its own story. One is comprised of three statues, seemingly struggling to erect a pole to which the Kenyan flag is attached. This historical monument in Nairobi is a depiction of the fight for independence. The second is a fountain, at the center of which there are three statues, seemingly holding up a pillar, and the centerpiece is a 78-foot (24-meter) high monument.

Uhuru Gardens Memorial Park

Address: Off Lang'ata Rd, Nairobi

Website: Uhuru Gardens Memorial Park

Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (daily)

Price: 2 USD for parking

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9. Jeevanjee Gardens

Jeevanjee Gardens
Source: Photo by Flickr user Jorge Láscar used under CC BY 2.0

This two-hectare (five-acre) park is found within the city center, a green space that is today a spot for Nairobians to pass their time during the week. However, behind its present chilled-out reputation, lies a deep and interesting history. In 1906, Jeevanjee Gardens became property of the public, after it was donated by Alibhai Jeevanjee, an entrepreneur and one of the earliest settlers in Nairobi. Fast forward to the 90s and unscrupulous developers and government officials threatened to transform this green space into a highrise shopping complex. Thousands rejected this proposal, protested, lobbied and finally won. Today, this little park in the city has statues of the founder, Jeevanjee, as well as one of Queen Victoria, which was unveiled in 1906.

Jeevanjee Gardens

Address: Monrovia Street, Nairobi

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

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10. City Park Nairobi

City park Nairobi
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Brian kasiti used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Another park on our list, this one is found outside the city center, a short drive to the neighborhood of Parklands. Its status as a historical site is well earned, owing to its advanced age and tumultuous past. Founded in 1921, it was once a sprawling 91 hectares (221 acres). Much like Jeevanjee above, this park also faced threats of encroachment. Today, 60 hectares (148 acres) of the park remain and it is now a protected area. Within the city park, there’s a memorial park, in which Kenya’s second vice president, Joseph Murumbi and his wife, were buried.

City Park

Address: City Park Dr, Parklands, Nairobi

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11. Kenya National Archives

Kenya National Archives building
Source: Photo by user Jorge Láscar used under CC BY 2.0

Found in downtown Nairobi, this imposing building, much like McMillan in number five above, doesn’t attempt to hide its age. Its construction as a bank started in 1928 and was completed in 1931. However, most of its history lies within the building, which is a treasure trove of historical records that go as far back as the pre-colonial era. Visit and check out the century-old newspaper copies, pictures of the then Nairobi, as well as artifacts and displays that honor the freedom fighters.

Kenya National Archives

Address: Moi Ave, Nairobi

Website: Kenya National Archives

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 5pm; Sat: 8:30am - 1pm (closed on Sun)

Price: 2 USD

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12. War memorial statue

War Memorial Monument, Kenyatta Avenue, Nairobi
Source: Photo by user Richard Portsmouth used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Finally, this statue is an homage to the native Africans who fought alongside the British soldiers during World War I. It stands in the city center, on Kenyatta Avenue. Sculpted in 1924, it was erected on-site in 1928, a constant reminder of the casualties of war. The monument is made up of three statues: African soldiers who aren’t identified by name, but clearly members of the Kings African Rifles and Carrier Corps.

It is said that the Germans used East Africa as a battleground for a senseless war that was only meant to distract the British from the main arena: Europe. The War Memorial Statue portrays the deaths of African soldiers that need not have happened.

War Memorial Statue

Address: Kenyatta Avenue, Nairobi

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A trip into the past

For some fun things to do, take a trip into the past by checking out these historical sites and monuments in Nairobi. The ten listed above may not be centuries old, but they have a wealth of stories to narrate, most of which are in reference to the colonial and pre-colonial era. So while exploring the national parks and other tourist attractions of Nairobi, be sure to include these cherished sites.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Barry, a seasoned freelance writer, has accumulated years of experience, enabling him to produce entertaining and educational content. His pride lies in being a valued member of the Trip 101 team,...Read more

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