Stone Town may not have a particularly romantic name, but is the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar. It is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose original owners vied with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings. Also known as Mji Mkongwe (Swahili for “old town”) is the historically, culturally and architecturally important capital town of Zanzibar Island.
In Stone Town, one can spend many idle hours wandering through the narrow labyrinthine streets and alleyways where mosses and lichens cling to damp crumbling coral-rag walls and pools of sunlight wash the small squares and street- front cafes in a warm glow. The narrow lanes snake between over 2,000 buildings where shops, Internet-cafes, market stalls and restaurants vie for space with various monuments and structures of cultural pride.
Old Dispensary with its particularly decorative balconies is opposite the new port buildings, the dispensary was built in the 1890s. The Palace Museum (Beit-alSahel) was originally built and served as the official residence of the Sultan of Zanzibar.
The first Anglican Cathedral to be built in East Africa and is still in use today and stands on the site of the public slave market, on the eastern side of Stone Town.
The old Peace Memorial Museum (Beit el Amani) contains exhibits and records which make up the rich history of Zanzibar, from the early days of the Omani Sultans and the British colonial period right up until independence. This magnificent structure houses old and new history books, a selection of archaeological findings, plus records of early trade, slavery, palaces, mosques, sultans, explorers and missionaries, in addition to exhibits of traditional crafts, stamps and coins.