“It is a city of brilliant sunshine and purple shadows; of dark entries and latticed windows; of mysterious stairways, and massive doors in grey walls which conceal one does not know what; of sun-streaked courtyards and glimpses of green gardens; of barred windows and ruined walls on which peacocks preen. It is a town of rich merchants and busy streets; of thronged market-places and clustered mansions. Over all there is the din of barter, of shouts from the harbour; the glamour of the sun, the magic of the sea and the rich savour of Eastern spice. This is Zanzibar!”
(Major FB Pearce, 1919)
Stone Town is a place to get lost in – lost in direction, but also in the fantasies of its intriguing past. A past filled with contradictions; the darkest horror of trading with human beings – the slave trade, the scrambling for the interior Africa by explorers and exploiters, the sultans and their harems, the wealth in gold, ivory and clove fortunes, the power of a strategic location and its diplomacy. The rich Swahili culture is uniquely visible in Zanzibar.
Zanzibar Stone Town, or the ‘Old Town’ as the name reads in Swahili, has a rich and delicate history which can be told in many versions. The mix of imprints from its ancient visitors until today has gained the place its exclusive reputation. Its unique cultural heritage has rewarded it a position among the World Heritage sites and thus in need for careful preservation and conservation.
Learn more about Stone Town’s history, architecture, and the threats the modern world poses to the town.