Tag Archives: Stone Town

Save the date: Jahazi Literary & Jazz Festival is in September!

29 May

Looking for a scintillating weekend of open-air jazz concerts, storytelling, poetry readings, free music and literary workshops, VIP dinners and the best after parties in town? Then book your flight and come and see us in Zanzibar!. Welcome to Jahazi Literary & Jazz Festival 2012!


Join us for a long and lazy weekend of literary and jazz delights featuring home grown and international talent, all ready to take center stage in the world heritage site of Stone Town, Zanzibar.

The rich diversity of festivalgoers, all looking for first class entertainment, enjoy being mentally stimulated by great debate, frank, and honest discussion. And so, to balance out the fun-side of our festival, the topical theme that highlights serious issues and encourages festivalgoers to take part in open debate and share their views is – ‘The current global economic state, its origin and relevance to Africa, and where should we go from here?’ – not to be missed!.

Remember, last year, Al Campos – singer, trombone player, songwriter, producer and arranger. He performs in the genres of Soul, Jazz, Funk & Salsa, with deep roots in Gospel music –


participated in the Festival in 2011 and made us the honour to be our guest at Kandili Villa where he wrote our jingle


and the tribute song for MV Spice Islander which sank while he was on the Island.


Hopefully he will be back this year and we are all eager to see and hear him again!

High time to book for the 15th Festival of the Dhow Countries 7 – 15 July, 2012

14 May

The Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) is one of East Africa’s largest cultural events and usually takes place each year in July. ZIFF presents an exciting and varied programme of international films and videos, music, dance, drama and art exhibitions.


ZIFF is East Africa’s largest film, music and arts festival, bringing new talents together from all over the world for a Zanzibar Tamasha!

Each year, some of the most captivating and cutting-edge cinema from Africa and beyond is screened in venues across the island. From world-premiers to local shorts, we’ve got it all, with a long history of showcasing the highest quality film from all over the world. Films are submitted based on a yearly theme – this year is ‘Season of Visions’ – and entered into various categories and competitions. The final night is an awards night, where the winning films are recognised and celebrated.

ZIFF also puts on the island’s best parties. Live music, dance, DJs and performance across several venues means that carnival fever hits Zanzibar for 2 weeks! We bring musicians together from all over Africa, as well as recognised international acts.

A Zanzibar institution, ZIFF is a truly local festival, with exhibitions, workshops, and cultural tours that take you to the heart of the community. We promote local talent in film and music, showcasing new and old creative achievements. As ZIFF comes to town, so too do opportunities for recognising arts and crafts – the festival is always a hotbed of activity!

Maru Maru Hotel in Stone Town: another view on the old town

3 May

Set just behind the old fort and house of wonders, our 44 room hotel is a shining star in the labyrinth of stone towns’ best shopping district. Each room has all of the creature comforts you need to make your stay in zanzibar a truly memorable experience.

Maru maru has a rooftop terrace restaurant and lounge and is the perfect place to unwind. the 360* view is breathtaking and gives you a bird’s eye view of the city and the turquoise waters of the Indian ocean. South & North Indian cuisine is the specialty of the house as well as some of the islands best cocktails.  Sundowners at Maru Maru are legendary. Located off of our fountain courtyard, the restaurant offers a peaceful oasis from the city.

You can enjoy all of Maru Maru’s culinary delights in either the air-conditioned grand hall or sit under an umbrella by the tranquil fountain .

The Anglican Church and the slave market: a page of dark history in Stone Town

14 Apr

The Cathedral Church of Christ, also called the Cathedral of the Universities Mission in Central Africa (UMCA), is near the junction of Creek Road and Sultan Ahmed Mugheiri Road on the eastern side of Stone Town. It stands on the site of the slave market, used in the 18th and 19th centuries when Zanzibar was a large slaving centre.

A group of UMCA missionaries had originally come to east Africa in 1861, following the call of the explorer David Livingstone to oppose the slave trade and spread Christianity across Africa. In 1864 they settled in Zanzibar, after a number of earlier sites proved unsuccessful. When the slave market was closed by Sultan Barghash in 1873 the missionaries bought the site and almost immediately started building the cathedral.

Some adjoining land was donated to the mission by a wealthy Indian merchant called Jairam Senji. Today, nothing of the old slave market. When the first service was held in the cathedral, on Christmas Day 1877, the roof was not finished. It was finally completed in 1880. Tradition has it that the cathedral’s altar stands on the site of a tree to which the slaves were tied and then whipped to show their strength and hardiness.

Those who cried out the least during the whipping were considered the strongest, and sold for higher prices. The man who was the force and inspiration behind the building of the cathedral was Bishop Edward Steere, who was Bishop of Zanzibar from 1874 to 1882. (He was also the first compiler of an English–Swahili dictionary, using the Roman alphabet; until then Swahili had been written using Arabic script.) He trained local people as masons and used coral stone and cement for building materials. Sultan Barghash is reputed to have asked Bishop Steere not to build the cathedral tower higher than the House of Wonders. When the bishop agreed, the sultan presented the cathedral with its clock. The tower was finished in 1883.

The legacy of David Livingstone lives on in the cathedral: a window is dedicated to his memory, and the church’s crucifix is made from the tree that marked the place where his heart was buried at the village of Chitambo, Zambia. The mosaic decorations on the altar were given to the cathedral by Miss Caroline Thackeray (a cousin of the English novelist William Makepeace Thackeray), who was a teacher at the mission here from 1877 to 1902.

Behind the altar is the bishop’s throne and 12 other seats for the canons. They are decorated with copper panels from Zambia and show the names of several biblical figures, written in Swahili. The window behind the altar has been decorated with pictures of African saints, from Egypt, Carthage and Ethiopia.

Around the church are many plaques, dedicated to the memory of missionaries who died here, and to the sailors and airmen who were killed in action during the East Africa Campaign of World War I. Outside the cathedral, in a small garden next to the school, is a sculpture of four slaves chained in a pit – an understated yet powerfully emotive work of art that is well worth seeing.

St Monica’s Hostel:  This is an impressive old stone building in its own right. Apart from its hostel accommodation and its gallery and craft shop, its basement provides one of Zanzibar’s simplest, but arguably most moving and evocative, reminders of the dehumanizing horrors of the slave trade. A stone staircase leads down from the entrance hallway to what is reputed to be the dungeon where slaves were kept before being taken to market.

The dank rooms – more like tombs – are cramped and airless, with low doorways and tiny windows. Even today it’s a somber place – but imagine it crowded with slaves in their hundreds, men, women and children together, sick and exhausted after their grueling sea voyage, crammed five deep on the narrow stone slabs and shackled with chains which still lie there today.

The room on the right hand was for women and children only. The window in the middle has the original size of those times; the ones on the sides have been enlarged to give more clarity. There were about 70 women and children in that room. In the men’s room there were about 50. There was no sewage, all the grey water would be washed away by high tides only. The chain would be for several slaves at a time, around the neck of the first one, then a space and around the neck of the second one and so on.



Acoustic Concert at Mtoni Palace on Friday 13 April

11 Apr

Dear Music Lovers,

Since many of you were away last weekend we decided to ask our group to come and perform again on Friday 13/04/12!

A tribute to Um Khulthum and Siti Binti Saad, this concert is unique and not to be missed!

Please make reservations in advance!

Tickets are only Tsh 10’000 pp 18:00 pm (sunset) @ Mtoni Palace

Profit goes to the Mtoni Palace Conservation Project

Looking forward!

Mtoni Palace Conservation Project

Po Box 992



T/ +255 777 430117

Archipelago Restaurant: a restaurant with a view in Stone Town

6 Apr

Since its establishment in 2004, Archipelago has become a busy restaurant in Zanzibar. Sunday brunch, lunch with friends, afternoon tea, all is good at Archipelago Restaurant: they take the freshest ingredients, and present them simply and thereby let the flavours speak for themselves.



Choose to sit with the view – it will keep you entertained and watching the dhow boat repair of beached ferry unloading



The service is quick and friendly and the restaurant has a nice relaxed atmosphere overlooking the sea and the western gate to Forodhani Gardens. It’s open to the breezes but has a roof to keep off the sun and rain.



Tower Top Restaurant: bird’s eye view over Stone Town

24 Mar


Open since 1993, the Tower Top Restaurant lies high amongst the ornate minarets, temple towers, and church spires of ancient Stone Town. Located on the roof of 236 Hurumzi, guests feel as if they’re on top of the world as they sip exotic cocktails, watching the sun disappear into the Indian Ocean. The Muslim call to prayer accents the setting of Arab-style pillows and small tables and the Hindu Temple chimes remind the guests that they are far away from the stress they left at home.



Open to all, they serve a lunch menu with a full a la carte selection of appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.



The Tower Top Restaurant is the best location to enjoy a leisurely lunch with spectacular views of the roof tops of Zanzibar Stone Town and the beautiful Indian Ocean. Truly a birds’ eye view with flavorful Swahili-Arabic cuisine and dependable friendly service, 81 stairs above the streets of Stone Town.


Beyt al Chai: fine dining in Stone Town

17 Mar

Beyt al Chai is located in the famous Kelele Square at the heart of Zanzibar’s renowned Stone Town.

The location has an interesting history. A wealthy Arab merchant originally built this fabulous old building. In the years that followed, its square became a favourite haunt of the European residents of the town. Folklore has it that the square was christened, Kelele – Swahili for noise – because of the noisy dogs that the Europeans brought with them.

For those who want to experience the charm of a classic African setting with a touch of ancient Arabian mystique, this is the place. This is 5-room boutique hotel within a traditional Zanzibar house, built on 3 floors on what was once a tea house.

To dining at the Beyt al Chai is to experience Zanzibar. The restaurant, simply called the Beyt al Chai Restaurant, opened only in May 2007 but is already considered the finest dining establishment within Zanzibar’s Stone Town. The Restaurant is unobtrusively located on the ground floor, away from the rooms.

 The cuisine is a fusion of Zanzibar and Europe. Lunch is between 1200 hrs & 1530 hrs and provides a choice of Zanzibari and European cuisine. Begin your lunch with Fresh Crab Meat layered with Crispy Eggplant and Green Mango then select the pan-fryed snapper. Complete your meal with the chocolate chocolate chocolate or the passion fruit cheesecake.

Prison Island: Heaven for the giant tortoises and snorkeling

9 Mar

Changuu Island (Prison Island) is about 30 minutes by boat from Forodhani in Stone Town area lay Changu, also known as Prison Island.

The island was once used by an Arab slave trader to contain the disobedient slaves brought from the African mainland. To prevent their escape before shipping them to the Arabian purchasers, or for auctioning in Zanzibar’s slave market, the slaves were dumped on Changuu, from where they were unlikely to attempt escape.

After the abolition of slavery, in 1873, the island was bought by general Lloyd Mathews, commander of the sultan’s army, who built a house here. In 1893 a prison was built on the island, but it was used instead as a quarantine station for the whole east African region. In the 1920s passengers arriving from India had to spend between one and two weeks on Changuu before proceeding to Zanzibar Town.

You can still see the quarantine station, and the house built by General Mathews which is now used as a restaurant. A path leads right round the island (about an hour’s easy stroll, for residents of the lodge only), also passing some old pits where coral has been dug out to make building stone. Some of these pits fill with water at high tide, and in colonial days they were kept clean and used as swimming pools.

The Giant Tortoises (Geochelone gigantea) are Changuu Islands most famous inhabitants, and are to be found nowhere else in East Africa. Four tortoises were brought from the island of Aldabra in the Seychelles in the 18th century, as a gift from the Seychelles governor to his opposite number in Zanzibar. They started to breed, and by 1955 there were 200, but after independence the numbers began to drop, partly because people started to steal them to sell abroad, either as exotic pets, or as food for ‘exotic restaurants’. The numbers dropped to 100 in 1988, then 50 in 1990, until by late 1996 there were only seven left. In the same year a group of 80 hatchlings were moved to Zanzibar for protection – and 40 of them disappeared. Today the tortoises are protected in a large sanctuary compound provided by the Zanzibar government with help from the World Society for the Protection of Animals. In 2000 there were 17 adults, 50 juveniles and 90 hatchlings, all individually identified and protected by microchips injected under the skin. Since then, many more have been brought in, mostly juveniles.

Giant tortoises face dangers at every stage of their biological growth. Apart from poachers who want them alive, other hunters kill them to use the shells and claws for medicine or saleable souvenirs. Eggs and hatchlings face constant danger from crabs, birds and other predators. Tortoises have been living in the Indian Ocean islands, and probably Aldabra, for over 100 million years but their numbers have fallen to such critically low levels that they are now classified as endangered. The adult tortoises of Prison Island are already producing the next generations.


The Forodhani Gardens: 100% Zanzibar relax and eat in Stone Town

1 Mar



The Forodhani Gardens  are a small park of the historical city of Stone Town. The gardens are located along the main sea walk of Stone Town, just in front of the most famous buildings of Stone Town: the House of Wonders and the Old Fort. Previously the port’s customs shack, the gardens are now ideal for an evening walk and offer a good opportunity to try some of the local delicacies.



The Gardens are especially crowded after sunset, when tourists and local alike gather in a popular food street market in the main square, to have dinner eating Swahili and Zanzibari cuisine delicacies such as grilled seafood, samoosas, cassava and sweet potatoes, goat meat, grilled octopus.



The Forodhani Gardens is the place to find some of the least expensive food on Zanzibar Island. Every night as the sun sets, the food vendors in the Forodhani Gardens fire up their grills to cook the fresh seafood caught during the day.