Monday, April 4, 2016

Stone Town - Zanzibar

Door from one of the sultan's homes

We headed out the first day to Stone Town, the main city on the island as one of the most historic. It was once the capital of the sultanate (when Oman ruled the area) as well as the center of both the spice and slave trade in the area. The architecture is an interesting blend of African, Persian, Arab, Indian and European influence. The old doorways are elaborately carved, giving hints of who the original owners were and their involvement in

Note the chain pattern
the slave trade or other sources of income. The chain pattern indicates slave traders. Others designs show family connections - or just beautiful carving work.

Sadly, some of the well-known tourist spots were not open or available when we were there. There is a famous cathedral there, located next to the area that was once the largest slave market on Zanzibar, however, it was Easter Sunday so the area was closed to tourists. We also discovered that a couple of the buildings, such as the House of Wonders (once the sultan’s palace) and the Palace Museum had fallen into disrepair and were currently closed to tourists (one building had actually collapsed on one end). We did, however, explore the old fort and wandered the streets and markets the city is also famous for. We sat in one of the plaza areas where a man sold coffee and other men sat around, talked, shared local news, and generally visited. An interesting piece of culture.
View over the harbor

We dined in a great Indian restaurant, complete with a view of the harbor. Turns out the main shipping harbor is around the corner from there – and so small that only a single cargo ship can come in at a time. It sure didn’t stop the cruise lines from anchoring offshore, bringing in smaller boat loads of people to explore Stone Town.

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