Vasco da Gama Pillar, having been built in the 15th century, is among the oldest monuments built by Europeans. With India to the east of the pillar and Malindi to the west, the pillar was built as a navigation aid to the sailors, representing the age of exploration.
The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama met the Sheikh of Malindi in 1498 to sign trade agreements and also hire a guide for his travel to India. It was at this time that the coral pillar was erected amid the Christian-Muslim animosity. Since the pillar had a cross, it was perceived as an encouragement of the Christian faith in the Muslim dominated Malindi and hence destroyed. Nevertheless, after the Sheikh of Malindi learnt of its importance as a landmark like a lighthouse, he allowed the pillar to be erected once more at the current position.
The pillar is situated on the seafront road near the jetty about 120 kms from Mombasa City and was built a century before the Fort Jesus in Mombasa.