Stone Town, Zanzibar.
World renowned Stone Town is for good reason a World Heritage UNESCO proclaimed destination. It’s turbulent history has shaped what it is today, influenced by a number of conquering nations and trading partners. The Europeans, Indians, Persians, Africans, notably the Ottomans and Arabs have all played a part, and left their indelible marks: culture, trading practises, hospitality, cuisine and architecture.
A stay in Stone Town, or at least a day visit, is an absolute must for any traveller to the islands.
Stone Town lies within Zanzibar Town, the capital of the island formally known as Unguja, fondly and colloquially known the world over as Zanzibar. (Unguja is the largest of the islands making up the Zanzibar archipelago, of which Pemba and Mafia re the other best known).
“Zanzibar has an identity all of its own, shaped by a turbulent history which abounds with a colourful cast of characters, from slave traders and Sultans, to pirates and princesses.”, says the Tanzania Travel and Tourism Directory.
Arabic roots that one feels the most, that have had the most profound on Stone Town’s unique Swahili architecture, the warren of passages and alleyways, the call of the mosques, its wonderfully hospitable people, its culture and food.
There is something rewarding about wandering about, feeling the ancient buildings, marvelling at the intricately carved and ornately decorated doors – the doors and their surrounds themsleves signals of class and wealth.
The coffee is fabulous, and to try the island ginger infused tea for the fist time is a treat.
Many of the hotels, hostels, cafes and restaurants are in buldings and spaces lovingly restored, some to their former glory, and others to being functional.
The range of cuisines, food types and tastes is to behold and sample. Zanzibari, Ethiopian, Indian, Thai, Italian, French, Portuguese, Lebanese.
The calls to prayer ring out from around 0500 to just before susnset; there is little better than to sit in one of the numerous rooftop terraces and gardens, sipping a refreshing drink in the balmy early evening air, and hear the call waft over the roof tops and the town.
And oh yes, look out towards the setting sun and see if you’re one of the lucky ones who can make a wish at the green flash as the orange ball drops below the horizon.
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