The great pyramids at Giza, EgyptElephants crossing the Zambezi river in Mana Pools National Park world heritage site, ZimbabweThe great mosque in the Old Towns of Djenne world heritage site, MaliBlack and white ruffed lemur, Rainforests of the Atsinanana world heritage site, Madagascar

Stone Town of Zanzibar - Tanzania

Map showing the location of the Stone Town of Zanzibar UNESCO world heritage site, Tanzania

Website Category: East Africa's Swahili Coast   

Area: 1.0 km2 

Inscribed: 2000

Criteria: (ii)  interchange of values (iii)  cultural tradition (vi)  association with belief system

Location and Values:  The Stone Town of Zanzibar is located on the sheltered west coast of the iconic tropical ‘spice island’ of Zanzibar.  It is a fine example of a Swahili coastal trading centre, built on the long tradition of trade and exchange between the African interior and the lands of Arabia and Asia.  Established for at least 1,000 years, it remains a vibrant centre to this day and its architecture includes a fusion of many different elements and influences from Arabia, Persia, India, Europe and elsewhere.  Zanzibar played an important role in the slave trade, particularly during the 18th century when slaves were required for plantation development in the Indian Ocean Islands.  Much of Stone Town is more recent, however, dating from the second half of the 19th century, after the Sultan of Oman had moved his sultanate from Muscat to Zanzibar.

Slideshow of the Stone Town Of Zanzibar: The slideshow includes 59 photos of Stone Town provided by Tim Davenport.  They show some of the main architectural features, buildings and sights, and provide a wonderful ‘sense of place’.  In some respects first impressions are of a town resembling some of the medinas of Arabia or North Africa, the maze of narrow shaded alleys concealing grand Arab mansions and bustling bazaars.  Some of the main buildings are featured, including the House of Wonders (1883), Palace Museum, mosque and Anglican cathedral as well as the Omani Fort of 1701.  Most of these principal buildings are located along the breezy waterfront, where traditional wooden dhows can be seen sailing past or bobbing around in the harbour

Slideshow of the Stone Town Of Zanzibar:

Comments and Impressions:  There is plenty of interest for several days of exploration in this vibrant town, and it is becoming increasingly popular as a visitor destination.  There is an ongoing effort to restore some of the principal buildings and clean up areas that were becoming rather derelict.  Stone Town was first nominated as a world heritage site in 1982, but this nomination was rejected outright.  By 2000, when a new nomination was submitted, the Committee clearly had second thoughts.

Google Earth View:  To view satellite imagery of Stone Town on Google Earth, click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing other world heritage sites around Africa.

Links to other places featuring Arab influences in East Africa: Lamu  I  Kilwa   

Other Links:     Official UNESCO Site Details

Facade in the Stone Town of Zanzibar UNESCO world heritage site, Tanzania Intricately decorated Swahili doorways and arches are a prominent architectural feature of the Stone Town of Zanzibar UNESCO world heritage site, Tanzania Fortifications on the Omani Fort (Ngome Kongwe) in the Stone Town of Zanzibar UNESCO world heritage site, Tanzania Narrow alleyways characterise the Stone Town of Zanzibar UNESCO world heritage site, Tanzania



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