The Old Dispensary is a colourful and exotic looking building not far from the Port. It was built by Sir Tharia Topan (a rich man in Zanzibar) to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It was started in 1887, but worked stopped in 1891 when Sir Tharia died in India. His widow finally had the building completed inl 1894. It takes its name from the fact that housed a dispensary on the ground floor, as well as a pharmacy and resident doctor.
In 1900, it was bought by the estate of Nasser Nur Mahomed to use the building as a charitable institution. A dispensary was set up on the ground floor and the upper two floors were made into apartments. After the Revolution in 1964 the occupants fled the island building was abandoned. It was later taken over by the government.
In 1990, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture leased the Old Dispensary from the government in order to restore this major landmark. The building now houses a Cultural Centre, a restaurant, shops and offices. There is also a gallery of art by local artists. Admission is free and it is open daily from 10;00 to 18:00.
I walked by this architectural landmark several times and never went in. In fact I really regret that I did not and I only took 1 picture of it. Definitely worth a visit
Next to the Anglican Cathedral, you will find the St Monica’s Guesthouse. This was previously used as a missionary hospital. In the basement are the slave chambers, where slaves were ‘kept’ in terrible conditions. These are claustrophobic underground cells in which up to 75 slaves were held at a time.
It is a chilling experience.
Entrance fee of 3 USD allows entry to the Cathedral, Slave sculpture and underground chambers.
According to vt member zanzibar64, above info is incorrect (I got the info from two different travel guide books on Zanzibar)
Slaves were never kept in St Monica's guesthouse. The building was erected in 1905. This has become a way of earning money from tourists. Prof. Abul Sheriff, an expert on Zanzibar says that the basements were used to store medicines - being cool.
There are still many well preserved and restored wooden doors to admire in Stone Town. They are all over town, so keep our eyes open. Residential doors are the most elaborate. They are divided into two panels, and sometimes have a smaller door in one of the panels.
The frames are very decorative, and different patterns are recognizable.
Some doors will look great with a little bit of renovation.
These baths are unfortunately not in use anymore. This is a typical example of a hammam which you will find in Turkey. If you have not been to a hammam before, this could be an introduction of sorts.
It does not take long to explore, and I don’t think it is high on the list of things to see.
The good thing is that the entrance fee goes to the Zanzibar Orphanage.
Along with the underground slave chambers, the slave sculpture made a big impact on me. The slaves, with chains around the necks, are a stark reminder of the inhumane slave trade. This is a modern sculpture (by Clara Sornas).
The Anglican Cathedral is situated close to the Central Market on the fringe of Stone Town. It is built on the site which was previously used as a slave market. Do visit the interior of the cathedral. The history of the cathedral is quite important, in the context of the abolishment of the slave trade and the role David Livingston played in this regard.
The glass-stained windows are also worth noticing.
There is an entrance fee of 3 USD which gives access to St Monica’s, The Cathedral and the slave sculptures.
You will find this house along Suicide Alley. Tippu Tip was one of the wealthiest Slave Traders during the latter part of the 19th century. The house is occupied by residents and is in state of decay. Apparently it is possible to visit inside, with permission of the residents.
This square served as Zanzibar’s main slave market. It is now a peaceful and tranquil leafy square. There are some nice buildings around the square, most of them in a good state. I could not find any references concerning the history of the square in the area.
The Zanzibar Serena Inn is one of the beautiful buildings around the square.
The Post Office is on Kenyatta Road and served as Zanzibar’s main post office since the early 1900’s, but is only a branch office now.
It is an interesting white, colonnaded building, in a degree of decay.
If you continue from the Fort, you can follow the road, passing under The Orphanage. This leads to Shangani. This is an area where many upmarket hotels are.
If you turn right, after passing under the Orphanage, you will find a small strip of beach, where locals launch their boats and dhows. This small area also have a few restaurants.
Further in Shangani are many shops and also a bank where I was able to use the ATM.
Shangani is the Western point of Stone Town.
I was looking forward visiting the gardens at night, as it is home to a street food market from sunset onwards. At this stage it is part of the areas being renovated and closed for visitors. You do have very good views of the gardens from The House of Wonders.
This is also the area where slaves landed, before they were taken to Kalele Square.
If you have been to Oman, it is easy to recognise this fort. You actually have a very good view of the Fort from the veranda of the House of Wonders, which is situated next to the Fort.
There is an amphitheatre inside; where shows are held (entrance fee applies). There are many craft sellers, selling mostly paintings and other art. You need to haggle quite hard, but similar stuff are sold at many of the shops, so you will get a good price if you are patient.
Entrance is free
This magnificent building is worth visiting. It houses the Zanzibar National Museum of Culture.
The exterior is fantastic, as is the inside. The entrance is guarded by two canons. As you enter, the space is dominated by a huge dhow.
The amazing wooden staircases are extremely beautiful, although not in the best condition. There are many interesting displays to see.
You have beautiful views of Stone Town from the veranda.
Entrance is 3 USD
This big white-washed building will look better with some care and new paint. The Arabic architecture is quite prominent. It is home to a museum with a collection of furniture etc of the Sultans who lived here. I did no visit the museum.
This is another beautiful building along the Waterfront. It can be found a couple of metres from the Big Tree, next to the Seaview Restaurant (which is being renovated at this stage).
The building has a very nice door.
The building is home to the Zanzibar Conservation Centre, and also the Dow Countries Music Academy.