Stone Town is the capital of Zanzibar and it’s a great place to learn about the daily life of the locals in the cities.
The buildings in the center of Stone Town have slight Arabic feel and you can see that some day, this was one the wealthiest places in Tanzania. Now, however, most of the buildings are in a desperate need of repair.
One unique thing in Stone town are the old Arabic doors, of which some have been fully restored.
To me, the highlight of our visit to Stone Town was the visit to the old Slave Market. In 18th century when slavery was common, the Stone Town slave market was the biggest of the three markets in eastern Africa and controlled by the Arabs. The slavery was officially abolished in 1877, but continued illegally after that in caves around the island.
At the old slave market, you get to read about the history and visit the chambers where the slaves were kept before the weekly auctions. The chambers only had tiny holes for air and that combined with lack of food meant many slaves died in the chambers already before the auction.
The slaves were brought to the market from the mainland and often had walked for weeks carrying ivory which was the other interest for the Arabs. As Zanzibar was an Islamic island, its residents were not sold as slaves.
Today, slavery is still present in many parts of the world: especially many women and children are forced to work or marry against their will in different parts of the world.
Beyond the visit to the old slave market, another highlight of our day was the lunch at the Tea house restaurant on top of Emmerson on Hurumzi. And if you’re a fan of Freddie Mercury, you might be interested visiting his old house as well.
We also visited the market, and while it’s a great place to buy some of the many spices grown on the island, it’s also very hot and packed with people.