Even though Unguja, Zanzibar, is a Tanzanian island, it has its own history, its own roots and Stone Town reveals them at every corner, every little street, every building.
Of Middle East origins, this city has lived obscure moments with ivory and slave trade and more positive periods when the commerce of more suitable products like clove increased richness and created a special place.
Nowadays this richness is not growing so much as in past times, but Stone Town remains a wonderful place where history can be seen everywhere, ‘touched’ in some way.
Historical buildings like the National Museum and the Arab Fort, now used for cultural shows, or the Palace of Wonders, Beit el-Ajab, built by the Sultan in 1883 and thought for official ceremonies, go together with houses with splendid carved doors, a distinctive feature of this town.
Small and crowded streets, big and crowded markets.
The Darajany Market is the right place where you can buy all those spices for which this island is famous.
The muslim soul is everywhere: the Taarab music for example, so deeply Swahili, and the beautifully decorated hands and feet of Swahili women in particular occasions like weddings.
During the evening a walk in the Forodhani Gardens on the seafront can end in one of the many open restaurants where a dinner becomes an experience and you can admire the famous ‘big tree’, a majestic ficus very much known in town.
In Mkunazini Road there is the Anglican Cathedral Church of Christ, built on the last slave market.
A visit to the monument dedicated to all the slaves and to the prison cells where they were chained is like a visit to that unglorious past that must not be forgotten nor repeated.
Late in the afternoon the terrace of the Africa House Hotel waits for you with its incredible sunsets on the ocean and the dhows passing by while you are sipping a glass of good wine.
This hotel used to be the building of the exclusive English Club during the Protectorate. It has been restored, but the old opulence is still there in some piece of furniture or in the ceilings or even in the atmosphere.
It is absolutely worth visiting this town, not only because it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but above all because it is different from any other town and it is really charming.