Stone Town, Zanzibar

Written by  Monday, 19 May 2014 07:09 Published in Cities

Stone Town is located on the western coast of Unguja, the main island of the Zanzibar Archipelago. The former capital of the Zanzibar Sultanate and flourishing center of the spice and slave trade in the 19th century, Stone Town has retained its importance as the main city of Zanzibar. When Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined to form the United Republic of Tanzania,Zanzibar kept a semi-autonomous status, with Stone Town as its capital and government seat for Zanzibar.

Stone Town is a city of prominent historical and artistic importance in East Africa. Its architecture, mostly dating back to the 19th century, reflects the diverse influences underlying the Swahili culture, with a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements. For this reason, the town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Stone Town is home to numerous historical and cultural sites, including Makusurani graveyard, where many of the island’s previous Arab rulers are buried, House of Wonders, a four storey building which was the first building in Zanzibar to have electricity as well as the fi rst building in East Africa to have a lift, Hamamni Persian Baths, the first public baths on the island and the Peace Memorial Museum, which serves as a national historical museum detailing the island’s long history. Other places of interest include the Forodhani Gardens that hosts a popular, tourist-oriented market for Zanzibari dishes, the Darajani Market the main bazaar ofZanzibar, and the “Big Tree”, an old and massive fi g tree that is a popular meeting place.

The Anglican cathedral of Christ Church, previously hosted the largest slave market of Zanzibar. The church’s location was deliberately chosen to celebrate the end of slavery, and the altar was in the exact spot where the main whipping post of the market used to be. A monument of the slaves, as well as a museum, on the history of slavery, is next to the church. Another place of interest is Tippu Tip’s House, a large, historical house in Stone Town that was the house of the infamous Zanzibari slave trader.

Prison Island is a small island offshore Stone Town to the north. A small colony of Aldabra giant tortoises is a popular visitor attraction as is Jaw’s Corner; a small square in the center of Stone Town, popular for its coffee, board games, and political discussions. There is a huge selection of hotels of all classes that one can choose from.

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