Stone Town – the historic capital of Zanzibar
Stone Town lies at the cultural core of the idyllic island of Zanzibar. Stone Town was where the spice trade and slavery created Zanzibar’s early wealth. Indeed the town’s unique blend of Arabic and African influences originate from this 19th century period.
Its labyrinth of winding alleys, bustling markets, mosques can be easily visited on foot. Little shops and street stalls are thronging with Swahili traders. And it certainly does feel satisfyingly different from the rest of Tanzania, with its own unique cultures, traditions and architecture. Here Arab, Indian, Persian and European influences blend with local African traditions. Historic buildings show off elaborately carved wooden doors. And courtyard houses, shaded by balconies and verandas line the narrow alleys. So narrow that many parts of the old city can only be reached on foot or scooter.
All the town’s key attractions are easily accessible by foot including Forodhani Gardens, the Old Fort, the Old Dispensary, the Peace Memorial Museum, the Palace Museum, and the House of Wonders.
But Stone Town does offer very faded charm. Some may not like the bustling streets, the crumbling walls and the well-worn paintwork. Others will be fascinated and enjoy the distinct contrast with their beach resort. Each to his own.
Visiting Stone Town
If you enjoy history and architecture, we particularly recommend a night or two in one of the atmospheric Stone Town hotels. See our selection of hotels below.
At the very least, we recommend a walking tour of the city, preferably on arrival on departure, or possibly as a day tour. Take a short walking tour to learn more about the history of Stone Town. Or simply to explore the little alley stalls in the narrow streets.