Historic districts in Unguja

Stone Town

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Stone Town or Mji Mkongwe, in Swahili meaning "ancient town", is the old part of Zanzibar City (or Unguja Mjini) - the capital of the island of Unguja, informally known as Zanzibar, a part of Tanzania.

The old town is built on a triangular peninsula of land on the western coast of the island. The oldest part of the town consists of a warren of narrow alleys to houses, shops, bazaars, and mosques. Cars are often too wide to drive down many of the maze of winding streets.

Its Swahili architecture incorporates elements of Arab, Persian, Indian, European and African styles. The Arab houses are particularly notable because they have large and ornately carved wooden doors and other unusual features such as enclosed wooden verandas.

The site has probably been occupied for around three centuries with buildings only being constructed with stone since the 1830s.

Two large buildings dominate the main front of Stone Town. One is Beit-El-Ajaib or the House of Wonders, which was built by Sultan Seyyid Barghash as a grand palace for ceremonial purposes. The other is the Arab Fort which stands on the site of a former Portuguese settlement and was converted to a fort during the 18th Century.

The town was the centre of trade on the East African coast between Asia and Africa before the colonization of the mainland in the late 1800s after which the focus moved to Mombasa and Dar es Salaam. From 1840 to 1856, Said bin Sultan had the capital of the Omani Empire in Stone Town. The main export was spices and particularly cloves. For many years Stone Town was a major centre for the slave trade; slaves were obtained from mainland Africa and traded with the Middle East. The Anglican Cathedral is built on the site of a former slave market. Some of the holding cells still exist.

The town also became a base for many European explorers, particularly the Portuguese, and colonizers from the late 1800s. David Livingstone used Stone Town as his base for preparing for his final expedition in 1866. A house, now bearing his name, was lent by Sultan Seyyid Said. Immigrant communities from Oman, Persia and India lived here. These were often engaged in trade or, in the case of the Omanis, were rulers of the island and its dependent territories.

Stone Town has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. However, this designation does not provide complete protection for the town's heritage. In 1997, "of the 1709 buildings in the Stone Town, about 75% were in a deteriorating condition."

It is also famous as the birthplace of Freddie Mercury, Lead vocalist of the rock band Queen.

According to the 2002 Tanzania National Census, the population of the Urban District, to which Stone Town belongs, was 206,292.[1]

Famous residents

  • Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Bulsara) lead vocalist of Queen was born in Stone Town.
  • Ali Muhsin al-Barwani, first foreign minister of independent Zanzibar
  • David Livingstone, Explorer, missionary and colonialist.
  • Tippu Tip, Slave Trader

Climate

Climate data for Stone Town
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °C (°F) 32
(90)
32
(90)
32
(90)
31
(88)
30
(86)
29
(84)
29
(84)
29
(84)
30
(86)
31
(88)
31
(88)
32
(90)
Average low °C (°F) 24
(75)
24
(75)
23
(73)
23
(73)
22
(72)
20
(68)
18
(64)
18
(64)
19
(66)
20
(68)
22
(72)
23
(73)
Precipitation cm (inches) 5.37
(2.1)
5.39
(2.1)
11.6
(4.6)
17.86
(7)
13.18
(5.2)
3.53
(1.4)
2.95
(1.2)
2.39
(0.9)
1.48
(0.6)
5.2
(2)
7.59
(3)
8.09
(3.2)
Source: MSN Weather 2009-05-25

References

External links

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Tips & Hints
Arrange By:
Oleg Gaevoy
18 March 2018
So naturally. Small streets in the heart of the city are so romantic but be careful when night comes. Our girls were scared. Find places which allow you to get on the roof.
Maskat Abdullah
10 August 2014
Try out the New Doubletree by Hilton Stone Town Restaurant on the rooftop with a beautiful sunset view, my favorite is the seafood dish! :)
Fatih Kuran
29 December 2014
Authentic place. You can find really interesting spots along your journey. You should be picky during selection
'Niki Naudé
14 August 2013
When going on a tour through Stone Town, don't do your shopping at the first shops... The shops at the end of the tour have the exact same merchandise at a quarter of the price than the first shops...
Piritta Paija
19 March 2015
Feel the Persian atmosphere. Very atmospheric in general. Just too much souvenir vendors and tourists. Don't miss the Slavery Museum!
Maja Djozo
14 December 2012
Visit Livingstone Caffé and Restaurant at the beach. Good coffee and service. And Africa House terrace at sunset is a must!
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0.2km from Mlandege Road, Zanzibar Town, Tanzania

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