Stone Town on Zanzibar the Spice Island

Stone town, Zanzibar

The name “Stone Town” comes from the ubiquitous use of coral stone as the main construction material; this stone gives the town a characteristic, reddish warm colour. Zanzibar exudes mystique in it’s name and rich history, earning it’s place in our collective mind; as the Spice Island.

Lady Luck has given me another winning combo with an invitation to participate in the development of a Cannabis Cultivation farm on the Spice Island and naturally to come and swim in the sea and hang-out in Stone Town. I’m beyond thrilled, as you can imagine, since I always wanted to see Africa but never dreamed I’d begin from Tanzania. Thank you Lady Luck.

Traditional buildings on the island have a baraza, a long stone bench along the outside walls; this is used as an elevated sidewalk if heavy rains make the streets impracticable, or otherwise as benches to sit down, rest, socialize. Another key feature of most buildings is large verandas protected by carved wooden balustrades. The best-known feature of Zanzibari houses are the finely decorated wooden doors, with rich carvings and bas-reliefs, sometimes with big brass studs of Indian tradition.

Stone Town buildings have two main types of doors can be distinguished: those of Indian style have rounded tops, while those in the Omani Arab style are rectangular. Carvings are often Islamic in content (for example, many consist of verses of the Qur’an), but other symbolism is occasionally used, e.g., Indian lotus flowers as emblems of prosperity.

Stone Town is punctuated with major historical buildings, several of which are found on the seafront; these include former palaces of the sultans, fortifications, churches, mosques, and other institutional buildings.

Map of Zanzibar City by Oscar Baumann, 1892

Oscar Baumann (25 June 1864, Vienna – 12 October 1899, Vienna) – Smithsonian Institution

Photo credit – Javi Lorbada Madrid. javilorbada and by Med J on Unsplash

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