Sitting majestically on the beachfront in the heart of Stone Town, a designated UNESCO heritage site, Park Hyatt Zanzibar. Formerly the Sultan’s Palace, the hotel provides the ultimate haven amongst Stone Town’s labyrinth of winding alleys, bustling markets, mosques, and famed Zanzibari doors, featuring magnificent ornate wooden carvings. The town’s key attractions are easily accessible by foot including Forodhani Gardens, the Old Fort, the Old Dispensary, the Peace Memorial Museum, the Palace Museum, and the House of Wonders.
Located on a promontory jutting out from the western side of Unguja island into the Indian Ocean, the Stone Town of Zanzibar is an outstanding example of a Swahili trading town. This type of town developed on the coast of East Africa, further expanded under Arab, Indian, and European influences, but retained its indigenous elements, to form an urban cultural unit unique to this region.
The Stone Town of Zanzibar retains its urban fabric and townscape virtually intact and contains many fine buildings that reflect its particular culture, which has brought together and homogenized disparate elements of the cultures of Africa, the Arab region, India, and Europe over more than a millennium.
The buildings of the Stone Town, executed principally in coralline ragstone and mangrove timber, set in a thick lime mortar and then plastered and lime-washed, reflect a complex fusion of Swahili, Indian, Arab and European influences in building traditions and town planning. The two storey houses with long narrow rooms disposed round an open courtyard, reached through a narrow corridor, are distinguished externally by elaborately carved double ‘Zanzibar’ doors, and some by wide vernadahs, and by richly decorated interiors. Together with, the simple ground floor Swahili houses and the narrow façade Indian shops along “bazaar” streets constructed around a commercial space “duka”.
The major buildings date from the 18th and 19th centuries and include monuments such as the Old Fort, built on the site of an earlier Portuguese church; the house of wonder, a large ceremonial palace built by Sultan Barghash; the Old Dispensary; St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Cathedral; Christ Church Anglican Cathedral commemorating the work of David Livingston in abolishing the slave trade and built on the site of the last slave market; the residence of the slave trader Tippu Tip; the Malindi Bamnara Mosque; the Jamat Khan built for the Ismaili sect; the Royal Cemetery; the Hamamni and other Persian baths. Together with the narrow, winding street pattern, large mansions facing the seafront and open spaces these buildings form an exceptional urban settlement reflecting the longstanding trading activity between the African and Asian seaboards. In particular the Stone town’s is also marked by being the site where slave-trading was finally terminated.