Zanzibar is one of the most attractive islands in the Indian Ocean. It has been united with the inland, formerly called as Tanganyika, to form Tanzania in 1963.
With a population that exceeds one million four hundred people, Zanzibar is one of the developing destinations in Africa. Zanzibar has become an enjoyable part in many of the tours to Tanzania.
During the past few years, larger numbers of tourists have started visiting the island of Zanzibar to wonder about the narrow streets of the Stone town, relax on the many beaches, or maybe dive or snorkel in one of the location that has a rich distinctive selection of fish and sea creatures.
The Stone Town
If Zanzibar is the heart of the heart of the archipelago, the Stone Town is the soul. Guests can wonder around the Stone Town for hours and hours before they either reach the sea or the Creek Road.
A visit to the old Stone Town is always remarkable as it offers a great chance to the tourists to view the Tanzanian community.
The old Stone Town is among the highlights of Tanzania that are visited by many travelers who spend their holidays in Tanzania
The guests will view a lot in the Stone Town. This includes maybe a school of children chanting verses from the Quran, many traditional cafes, and some ladies wearing the Bui Bui, the traditional robes of Zanzibar.
The Stone Town in Zanzibar has a unique mixture of Arabian houses that stand close to many Indian designed structures. This is besides the many oriental bazaars that are spread all over the Stone Town.
The best way to explore the Stone Town is just to wonder around the area and to walk all over the place to enable the town to unfold its wonders.
Many custom tours to Tanzania would surly take the traveler for a visit to the Stone Town.
The House of Wonders
One of the most imposing buildings in the Stone Town in Zanzibar is the beautiful Beit Al Ajaib, or the House of Wonders.
This building now hosts the Zanzibar National Museum of History and Culture. Being one of the largest constructions in Zanzibar, this building was erected in 1883 by Sultan Barghash, who ruled the island from 1870 till 1888, as one of his palaces.
When the British attacked Zanzibar in 1894, the palace was the target of the British naval bombardment. The house of wonders is visited by some tourists who spend their vacations in Tanzania.
This forced Khaled Ibn Barghash, who tried to take control of the island after the death of Sultan Hamad who ruled from 1893 till 1896, to retreat for the favor of the British.
After the reconstruction of the palace afterwards, Sultan Hamoud who ruled over Zanzibar from used the upper floor of the palace as his residence until in 1911.
The huge doors of the palace are said to be the largest wooden carved doors in the whole Eastern African region. This palace amazes all the guests visiting it as part of their trip to Tanzania
In the ground floor, the museum now hosts some displays from the dhow civilization of the Indian Ocean that attracted travelers since ancient times and still until today Europeans come to enjoy their travel packages in Tanzania to swim and dive in the Ocean.
The first floor exhibits some Swahili culture items and some displays illustrate the history of Zanzibar during the 19th century.
The Zanzibar National Museum of History and Culture is remarkable with all the information labeled under the displays in English making the visit enjoyable and informative.
One of the most notable displays in the museum is the life size Swahili traditional sailing vessel that is called the metpe.
Beit El Sahel
Just to the North of the House of Wonders, there is the palace of Beit El Sahel which served as the residence of the Sultan until the year 1964 when Zanzibar united with Tanganyika to form the nation of Tanzania
Today, this palace is serving as a museum displaying the history of the Sultanate in Zanzibar, which has become a favorite destination for tourists who travel to Tanzania.
In the ground floor of the museum, there are many displays exhibiting the sultanate period in Zanzibar from 1828 till 1870. A lot of affordable tours to Tanzania can be organized to include visits to attractions in Zanzibar.
During this period Zanzibar has signed many commercial agreements with USA in 1833, Britain in 1839, and France in 1844.
There are also some displays that were put in the memory of Salme, a princess from Zanzibar who went to Germany, lived there, and later became an author.
The displays on the second floor illustrate the period from 1870 till 1896 when new modern facilities, which were imported from the West, like water pipes and electricity, were introduced in Zanzibar by Sultan Barghash.
The third floor hosts the modest furniture and items of the last Sultan of Zanzibar, Khalifa Ibn Haroub, and his two wives
Just near the museum of Beit Al Sahel, there is the Makusurani graveyard and this was where many Sultans of Zanzibar were buried.
The Old Fort of Zanzibar
Located to the south of Beit Al Ajaib, there is this old massive fortified fort that was built during the 17th century by the Omanis, on the ruins of a Portuguese chapel, as a mean of defense against the Portuguese attacks.
During the past few years, the fort was restored and it became the Zanzibar cultural center and the office of the Zanzibar International Film Festival.
Inside the center, there is an open air theatre that hosts music and dance performances, there is also an information centers where guests can know the schedule of the performances. Many group tours to Tanzania include attending some of the cultural events or art performances.
Near the café of the center, there is an old tree that is called “the tree of the 40”, because it is famous for curing 40 diseases.
The Anglican Cathedral
The Anglican Cathedral was constructed in 1870 by the Universities mission to Eastern Africa and when constructed, it was the first Anglican Cathedral in Eastern Africa.
This cathedral was constructed on the ruins of the old slave market in the Creek Street. Despite the fact that nothing really survived until today from the old slave market, except some cells that are located beneath the Saint Monica Hostel, it still functions as a reminder of a sad not so long ago history.
The Cathedral of Saint Joseph
The Cathedral of Saint Joseph is one of the first places that tourists view as soon as they reach Zanzibar by ferry. Many tourists who travel to Tanzania take the ferry to explore the beaches and the wonders of Zanzibar.
The cathedral was designed by Beranger, one of the famous French architects, and it was constructed by the French missionaries in 1898. There is a brief illustration of the history of the cathedral just after the entrance; The Cathedral of Saint Joseph is still operating until today.