Historians regard Stonetown and the main region of Zanzibar as very important in historical and architectural terms that go to show the prominence of East African culture. Its history dates back to the 19th century. The Swahili people are native to the region have greatly impacted on the culture. Their language called Swahili is the lingua franca of regional people and in other parts of Southeastern Africa. The people in Congo speak Swahili including the Tanzanians, Ugandans, Kenyans, Rwandans, Burundians and Mozambicans. The culture, however, is a mix of Indian, Persian, Arabian and Moorish including European.
In 2000, UNESCO declared that Zanzibar including Stonetown as part of the world heritage sites. Stonetown and its suburbs were earlier fishing villages. But gradually turned out to be Stonetown in which the first Stone Shelter is said to have been built in 1830. Oman controlled the Zanzibar Archipelago and a Sultan shifted his capital to Stonetown in 1840. However, war erupted between Oman and Zanzibar in 1861 and the two regions separated. Then Zanzibar became independent under a sultanate.
Stonetown Zanzibar and the region developed as a major market in 19th century. It became renowned for trading in slaves and spices during this period. British explorer David Livingstone had stayed in Stonetown in the middle of the century before he set out to explore the East African interior. At the end of the century, many Persians and Indians as well as Omanians entered Stonetown for trading, converting it into multi-linguistic and multi-ethnic land that attracts visitors on Tanzania Safari in large numbers.
A range of historic and important locations attract people on a Tanzania Safari from around the world year round to the Stonetown.
One of the main sights among them is the House of Wonders or Belt-al-Ajaib. Built in 1883, it lies on Mizingani Road facing the sea. The revolution made the House of Wonders the seat of Afro-Shirazi Party, which was the residence of the Sultan before the revolution. Electricity to the area first lit the interior of this building before it lit others. The first lift in the area too started operating in the House of Wonders.
Among the other historical and important sites in Stonetown include the Old Dispensary, the Palace Museum, The Anglican Cathedral of Christ Church. The Roman Catholic Church, the Public Hamamni Persian baths, David Livingstone’s Residence, Tippu Tip House, the High Court, the Agha Khan Mosque and Malindi Mosque, are among others
House of Wonders or Belt-al-Ajaib – now a museum of Zanzibar’s rich history.
The Old Fort-The 17th century coral fort is now a cultural centre. which houses many shops as well. .
Shopping– Most visitors buy souvenirs and beautiful paintings in the small winding alleys. Stonetown is an ideal place to buy paintings from local artists very cheaply.
Eating-The fish and food markets are also prominent tourist attractions in Stonetown.
Exploring- A tourist can visit the entire town within about five hours maximum and it is safe to walk around.
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