Going to the island of Zanzibar was the final part of our journey in Tanzania that followed all popular photo safari areas like Serengeti, Ngorongoro, lake Manyara. The last days of the journey had to reveal the exotic beauty of Zanzibar beaches and the historic treasures of Stone town.
Stone town soon brought us back the good spirit and it seemed all the troubles along the way were worthwhile. It is actually the historic center of Zanzibar City. We should clarify that Zanzibar is the name of the whole archipelago as well as an informal title to one of the two larger islands. The main is Unguja (i.e. Zanzibar), the other is Pemba.STONE TOWN SIGHTSEEING
There is no doubt Stone town is an exciting and picturesque place and of great significance for the East African past. It was a capital of Sultanate of Zanzibar, possessed by the Portuguese empire, then by the Sultan of Oman, later a British protectorate. In the 19th century Zanzibar flourished as a trading port well known for the export of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices, of ivory and gold. The name ‘Spice island’ originates namely from that time. But the island also got the fame of a major African slave market.Stone Town architecture is a unique blend of local, Arabian, Persian and colonial styles. We were much impressed by the ornate wood carvings on house doors that can be seen everywhere. Although listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the majority of the buildings in Stone Town still are in a bad condition, not receiving the proper maintenance. It was interesting for us to learn that the name of the city comes from the coral stone used in the house construction.
Our tour of the most popular landmarks in Stone town included:• the House of Wonders – a former Sultan residence, later known as the first building with electricity in Zanzibar, as well as that with the first elevator in East Africa. It was reconstructed after the Anglo-Zanzibar war in 1896 – the shortest war in the history, as the Sultan capitulated after 45 minutes of fire from the British naval forces.
• the old fort nearby
• the house of Doctor David Livingstone – the famous traveler and explorer, where he lived before his final expedition in East Africa.
• the native house of the great Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara ). We spent some time in the lovely restaurant at the same place. Wonderful views of the promenade and the ocean are accessible from its roof terrace.
• On the place of the largest slave market in Zanzibar now is the Anglican Cathedral Chist Church, built immediately after the end of slavery in 1897, and in its courtyard the Slavery memorial can be seen. Beside the Cathedral is the Museum of slavery history – a former slaves prison – a horrible place I prefer not to describe 🙁
THE NATURE AND THE PEOPLE
Endless beaches, white sand, palm trees and the Indian Ocean peerless color. This is in brief the nature of Zanzibar. Just incredible!
Along the way to the beach, however, we could see the extremely poor huts scattered among the banana palms, where people were living in such misery conditions…Zanzibar as all other visited places in East Africa showed us its contrast faces – a divine nature and unique wildlife next to a tremendous poverty in which most of the African people live…The sad truth, which the rest of the world just takes for granted… 🙁
The other day we had an excursion to the Jozani forest (Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park) where the endemic Red Colobus monkeys can be seen. And only here you can find that unique road sign on one of the photos below. We walked through magnificent mangrove forests, which made us forget about our custom urban environment and dream for a life close to the nature…If you are passionate about exotic travels, then choose Zanzibar! Select a hotel somewhere on the beach front, but far outside Stone town, and you will have the perfect match of a dream beach holiday and a sightseeing tour of Stone town, full of historic treasures, exquisite architecture, all with the scent of the spices which still can be found on its central bazaar… View selected hotels in Zanzibar