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Take a walk in Zanzibar's Stone Town

Travel

Stone Town, also known as Mji Mkongwe, is the old part of Zanzibar City, the main city of Zanzibar, in Tanzania. Stone Town is located on the western coast of Unguja, the main island of the Zanzibar Archipelago.

If anyone wanders the streets of Stone Town and say they can't feel the overwhelming atmosphere of the place must be completely insensitive. From the moment you enter the narrow winding streets of this fascinating place, it feels as if you have stepped back at least 500 years into the past! Stone Town gets it's name from some of the oldest buildings which were built out of coral and limestone; some of the original construction can still be seen through the crumbling plaster of decaying buildings in the old town. 

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A glimpse of what to expect when one visits Stone Town. Picture: The Seyyida Hotel Zanzibar.

Stone Town really does capture your imagination, and speaks of its tragic past, nowhere more so than the old slave market. Just stepping down into the slave holding areas fills you with absolute dread at mans inhumanity to man, a terrible place. Further down the street, you have an Anglican Church and a Mosque almost side by side, both vying for dominance in this tight quarter. Moving down a street charmingly named "Suicide Alley", you come across an area dominated by "the Africa House Hotel". This used to be the British Club in Stone Town, and a little bit of "Old England" it really is. If you have the time, a gin and tonic at sunset on the upper terrace is an absolute must!

Apart from where Freddy Mercury's house is, and where Livingston rested on his way back to Britain, you must see "The House of Wonders", the first house in Zanzibar to have running water and electric lights. It used to be the Sultans Palace, but is now a museum full of interesting items from around the island, Worth a look. "The House of Wonders" was also the focal point for the shortest war in history, 45 minutes! The Royal Navy bombarded the island when the Sultan didn't want to give up the slave trade, 45 minutes later Zanzibar surrendered. Of course, it helped that Zanzibar didn't have a navy!In all Stone Town is a fascinating place, and if you do nothing else on the island, a wander around this Ancient town is a must.


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