Zanzibar Town Favorites

  • Favorites
    by call_me_rhia
  • verandas of Stone Town
    verandas of Stone Town
    by sachara
  • shopping street near the Central Market
    shopping street near the Central Market
    by sachara

Most Recent Favorites in Zanzibar Town

  • call_me_rhia's Profile Photo

    Zanzibar Town - not only Stone Town

    by call_me_rhia Updated Apr 20, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    1 more image

    Favorite thing: Zanzibar town (from the Persian Zendji-Bar, which means 'land of blacks') has a "romantic, colourful history of seafarers and explorers, of riches and tragedy, and the dark stain of slavery" - I so wished that these were my words.

    In the past it was the most important trading centre of East Africa and a real Babel of people and languages: Sumerians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Arabs, Chinese, Malays... they all passsed through here. At some point it seems that it also was the Omani capital.

    The city of Zanzibar consists of two areas - Stone Town and Ngambo, with Stone Town being the part of the city of tourist interest: narrow twisting alleys adorned with beautiful old carved doors, coral stone buildings, crumbling stone walls and dark corners - and a perpetual scent of spices.

    Finally, and sadly, the slave trade, which lasted for over 60 years and saw 10000-40000 slaves being sold every year. A dark moment in history.

    Fondest memory: under construction

    Related to:
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • husain's Profile Photo

    The shortest war...

    by husain Written Mar 3, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    at the Beit-el-Ajaib
    1 more image

    Favorite thing: Territorial/ Colonial disputes between Britain and Germany, led to what has been recorded as the `shortest war in history'.

    Britain attacked Zanzibar August 25 1896, when the Sultan of Zanzibar, with German support, tried to defy its prevailing influence in the region.
    A fleet of British warships bombed the island and the Sultans palace, leaving it in ruins and with hundreds dead.
    The `war' lasted all of 45 mins, before the Sultan surrendered, and the battle is officially listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the shortest war in history.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Business Travel
    • Museum Visits

    Was this review helpful?

  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Freddy Mercury

    by sachara Written Aug 12, 2004

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Camlurs Restaurant

    Favorite thing: At the 5th of September 1946 Farok Bulsara was born in Stone town to a family of wealthy Zoroastrian Parsee immigrants from India.
    Farok Bulsara is better known in the world as Freddie Mercury, the flamboyant singer of the rock group Queen. Farok left the island at the age of nine for a boardig school in India and never returned to Zanzibar. Freddie Mercury died on the 24th of November 1991.

    Various houses in the Shangani part of the town claim, that Freddie lived there. The most likely is the building on Kenyatta Road of the closed Camlurs Restaurant. Another place to go is is Mercury's restaurant at the Mizingani Road, opposite the Big Tree. Here you can get some more information or buy a T-shirt.

    Related to:
    • Music

    Was this review helpful?

  • sachara's Profile Photo

    The Verandas of Stone Town

    by sachara Updated Aug 12, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    verandas of Stone Town

    Favorite thing: When you are strolling around in the alleyways of Stone Town, there is more than enough to see at eyes height. But its also worth not to forget to look up, to see the many lovely balconies and verandas.

    The Indian merchants at Zanzibar often started with buying a Arab or Swahili house, to which they added their characteristic outer verandas, to increase ventilation. Later they built their houses on Indian design with elaborate verandas with intricate railings and fascia boards.

    Related to:
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • sachara's Profile Photo

    More Stone Town doors

    by sachara Written Aug 12, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    door in Zanzibar Town

    Favorite thing: In the newer southern section of Stone Town in Shangani and Baghani, where many Omani landowners and Indian merchants were settled, we saw the most decorated doors, also newer ones.

    The main feature of these doors was the abundantly carved frames, central pillars and the semicircular area above the door. The abstract motifs were often lotus or rosette patterns. Also you can see sometimes themes reflecting the profession of the owner.

    Related to:
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Zanzibar doors, richily decorated

    by sachara Updated Aug 12, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    richily decorated door

    Favorite thing: Some doors in Stone Town are plain with only decorated doorframes and lintels. Other doors have also carved centre posts and are studded with dhow nails and reinforced at the back with cross bars of iron and wood.

    The design of the doors with iron or brass studs came from the Indian continent, originally used as defence against war elephants. Allthough there were no war elephants in Stone Town, the studs fitted well in the Arab ideal of defence of their residence.

    Fondest memory: To see the mixture of different cultural influences, so typical for Zanzibar.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • sachara's Profile Photo

    The doors of Stone Town

    by sachara Written Aug 12, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    the famous doors of Stone Town

    Favorite thing: In the 19th century the doors and doorframes became the favoured means of expression the grandeur of one's mansion. The elaborately carved Zanzibar doors in the white-washed walls became the most important feature of the external appearance of the house. Its quality and size were a mark of status and wealth of the owner.

    In Zanzibar are 277 such doors, the largest concentration along the Swahili Coast, allthough they were diminishing, sold to tourists and hotels.

    Fondest memory: Strolling in the alleyways of Stone Town and looking out for these treasures of decoration.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • sachara's Profile Photo

    The roofs of Stone Town

    by sachara Written Aug 11, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    roofs in Stone Town

    Favorite thing: The world of the narrow twisting alleyways is one world. The world of the rooftops is another. Many old mansions in the old town have a rooftop bar, like our hotel, from where you have nice views at the town and surrounding ocean.

    During the 19th century many of the houses had flat stone terraces. Because the heavy rains destroyed the poles, supporting the roofs the houses were capped by roofs of iron sheets.

    Fondest memory: It was wonderful to sit at the rooftopbar of our Arab mansion in the little breeze and have a look at the various colours of the roofs of iron and tiles. In the evening it was even better, seeing the lights of the town.

    Related to:
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Offshore Islands

    by sachara Updated Aug 11, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    off shore islands

    Favorite thing: Arriving by plane, like we did, you can see a lot of islands, just off shore from Stone Town. The islands are ringed by coral reefs. Some islands are just sandbanks, disappearing at high tide, but some are forested and have small beautiful beaches.
    The view at the islands from the air is more spectacular than from the ferry.

    A favourite island is the Prison Island or Changuu Island for a daytrip from Stone Town. In the past there was built a prison, which was never used. Today only the ruins are still there. There is a bar and restaurant. Our friend went there by daytrip.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Diving and Snorkeling

    Was this review helpful?

  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Boats at the beach

    by sachara Updated Aug 11, 2004

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    boats at the beach

    Favorite thing: At the small beach opposite the Big Tree near Mercury's are a lot of small boats. From here you can make a boattrip to one of the tiny islands in front of the coast for one day or a half day. There are roofed boats.

    You can book a tour in one of the many travelagencies or in some hotels, but you can also enquire yourself by going directly to the boatsmen. You can find them at the beach or in the shade of the ''Big Tree'' opposite the beach.

    We didn't do it ourselves this time, but the friend, who joined us, did it during his former visit and was very enthusiastic about it.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Sailing and Boating

    Was this review helpful?

  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Waterfront

    by sachara Written Aug 11, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    waterfront near Palace Museum and House of Wonders

    Favorite thing: In Stone Town you can make also a walk along the waterfront. Allthough there is most of the time a seabreeze it can be extremely hot during day-time.

    But being around you can always choose to look for shade in one of the museums or historical buildings.

    Fondest memory: At lunchtime we often choose to sit in a roofed open-air bar of restaurant at the waterfront, like here at Mercury's with a great view at the ocean, the beach and the historical buildings.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Beaches

    Was this review helpful?

  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Central Market area

    by sachara Updated Aug 11, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    shopping street near the Central Market

    Favorite thing: In the old Stone Town I prefered more the area around the Central Market, west of the Creek Street than the area around Kenyatta Road. In the market area you find many tiny shops and streetstalls, where you can buy almost everything, food, herbs, spices, shoes, clothing, batteries, electronics.
    I enjoyed the colours, smells and flavours and the local atmosphere. Here you don't see many tourists. It's more relaxed to walk here, because the vendors don't bother you by asking to enter their shops or to buy something. It's a good area to buy fruits, herbs and spices.

    Was this review helpful?

  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Area of Kenyatta Road

    by sachara Written Aug 11, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Kenyatta Road

    Favorite thing: At Kenyatta Road you will find the postoffice. In this area you will see a lot of tourists. Here are many bookstores, souvenirs shops, internetcafes and restaurants. From Kenyatta Road at the corner, where the post office is, you can take the Gizenga Road to the east, leading to the backside of the House of Wonders and further for more shops.

    You can buy here books, jewellery, paintings, woodcarvings, chests, clothing.

    Fondest memory: Finding some interesting books and some authentic jewellery of the Arabic Peninsula.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Wandering around in the old town

    by sachara Updated Aug 11, 2004

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Stone Town, alleyways

    Favorite thing: The charm of the old Stone Town of Zanzibar is wandering around in its twisting and turning narrow alleyways. Look around and you will see nice mansions, lovely verandahs and the famous decorated doors of Zanzibar, tiny shops and streetstalls and you will meet the friendly local people living there.

    Just start to walk, often you don't know exactly in which alleyway you are, but it's difficult to get lost, because at the end you always will reach Kenyatta Road, Vuga Road, Creek Road or the seafront and recognize again some landmarks to find your way.

    Fondest memory: Just to walk around and to find your way easily within a few days in this fascinating labyrinth of the old town.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Stone Town, first view from the air

    by sachara Updated Aug 11, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Stone Town

    Favorite thing: We came to Zanzibar by plane from Arusha. Just before landing we had a perfect view at Zanzibar Town and could see how the town is surrounded by the Indian Ocean. We could recognise the harbour, some of the larger buildings along the waterfront, but we could also see the high density of buildings in the old part of Stone town with its roofs of iron sheets.

    Fondest memory: Somewhere down there must be the old Arab mansion at one of the narrow alleyways, where we would stay for the rest of the week.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Zanzibar Town

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

105 travelers online now

Comments

Zanzibar Town Favorites

Reviews and photos of Zanzibar Town favorites posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Zanzibar Town sightseeing.

View all Zanzibar Town hotels