From the 9th century to the 16th century, Arab merchants crossed the sea to the east coast of the African continent. The remnants of those days they built can still be seen in Kenya and Tanzania. One of the typical places is Unguja Island in Tanzania in the Indian Ocean. It is an island that once prospered as the center of the slave trade.
Zanzibar, which is characterized by its stone architecture built of coral stone, is derived from it and is commonly known as «Stone Town». In 2000, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The narrow winding alleys are lined with architecture that combines Islamic style and European style. In particular, the arabesque wood carving door called «Zanzibar Door» is characteristic, and it is fun just to walk around looking for a beautiful door.
Door decoration with vegetation flowers and geometric patterns
These beautiful decorations are a legacy left by the prosperous merchants here. Some of them are used as inns and dwellings, while others are ruins or ruins, and you can see the remnants of those days throughout the island.
If you walk down the road, people dressed as Muslims are walking, and in the morning and evening, the Koran sounds like «Alla ~~», and when it is time to pray, you can see people praying toward Mecca. You can see people enjoying chai and water pipes here and there. There are many kinds of spices and teas on the market, and they have an exotic scent. Indian food samosas are sold in the open air.
It has a strong element of the Islamic world, is influenced by the colonial era, and has a European scent. And during the British colonial era, many Indian immigrants came in, and there is also an Indian element.
Is this Arab, India, Africa …?
No, it is the Swahili culture that was born from the fusion of all these diverse elements.
There are ferry services to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam that take an hour and a half by high-speed boat and three hours. 30 minutes from Dar es Salaam by plane. Divers and travelers from all over the world gather here for the beautiful blue sea and white coral reefs.
Zanzibar’s charm is that you can relax on the clear blue sea and beaches, but if you’re visiting this area, it’s a good idea to experience Swahili culture while walking around the island.