Stone Town is the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, little changed in the last 200 years. It is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose original owners vied with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings. This one-upmanship is particularly reflected in the brass-studded, carved, wooden doors - there are more than 500 different examples of this handiwork. You can spend many idle hours and days just wandering through the fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways.
If you want to learn more about Stone Town, You can either wander through the narrow streets accompanied with our professional guide,
Sights visited include:
The Old Dispensary (now known as the Stone Town Cultural Centre) is a grand four story building with a set of attractive balconies. It served as a dispensary during colonial times but fell into disrepair in the 1970's and 1980's. It is one of the Stone Town buildings that have been successfully restored, in this case with financial support from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. It can be found on Zanzibar's seafront on Mizingani road.
The market is a great place to visit even if you don't want to buy anything. It is a lively place where everything under the sun is bought and sold.
Livingstone's House was built around 1860 for Sultan Majid, and was used by many of the missionaries and explorers as a starting point. Most notably, Dr David Livingstone lived here before commencing his last journey to the mainland interior.
The Peace Memorial Museum is an interesting look at Zanzibar's history. It has sections on archaeology, early trade, slavery, palaces, mosques, sultans, explorers (includes Dr Livingstone's medical chest), missionaries, colonial administrators, traditional crafts and household items, stamps, coins, fishing, and clove cultivation.
The House of Wonders is a very large square-shaped building, with several stories, surrounded by tiers of pillars and balconies, and topped by a large clock tower. It was built in 1883 as a ceremonial palace for Sultan Barghash and was the first in Zanzibar to have electric light and an electric lift. Not surprisingly, when it was built, the local people called it Beit el Ajaib, meaning the House of Wonders. Today, it is still one of the largest buildings in Zanzibar, and there are plans to open it as the National Museum.
The Arab Fort is situated next to the House of Wonders and was built between 1698 and 1701 by the Busaidi group of Omani Arabs. It is a large building with high, dark brown walls. Topped by castellated battlements. The fort is open to visitors and now contains various shops and an open air theatre.