Zanzibar: The Island Of Cloves

Zanzibar The Boat On The Beach
Zanzibar

Zanzibar is the name of the archipelago in the Indian Ocean consisting of two major islands, Pemba and Unguja and many smaller islands. In ancient times, the Zanzibar Island was a secret place for vacations of the rich, who used to rest in this unspoiled nature after a hunt in the African safari. Today on this island, one of the most popular exotic tourist destinations, almost every day spring new modern tourist facilities.

In Zanzibar, which is geographically situated at the gate of Africa, just hundred years ago slavery existed. Zanzibar was officially under the direction of Oman, but the real rulers were German and British colonialists, who inhabited the island and its people subdued and turned into slaves. In 1890 Germans officially handed over Zanzibar under the government of Oman. It gained its independence in 1964 when the last sultan was exiled from it. After that there was a coalition with Tanganyika and so was created the country of Tanzania. Zanzibar is a famous manufacturer and exporter of exotic spices, above all cloves, pepper, ginger and nutmeg. In the 19th century, almost all the clove on the world market came from Zanzibar and the neighbor island Pemba. In that time the largest number of traders on sailboats, forced by the Kaskazi wind, stopped by the shores of the island between October and March, when Arab and Persian traders weighed the value of these spices by the price of gold. These traders brought silk and porcelain on the island. Even today, Zanzibar is a major exporter of spices, especially clove and nutmeg.

Stone Town is an old city, a cultural center that has changed very little in the past 200 years. It is known for its specific labyrinth of narrow streets where you will surely get lost, more than 40 mosques with minarets, bazaars and wooden front doors. There are over 500 different examples of hand-crafted doors. At the market you can still buy clove at the price of around 5€ for a kilogram (in local currency, called the Tanzanian shilling, it would be 5000 shillings). The city was once graced by the beautiful palaces whose brilliance today is almost nonexistent, although the city itself was places on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000. The streets are colorful during the day, typical for the African continent. You can see children rushing between women who carry water in buckets for their homes, while men on half broken bicycles transport bananas to the nearby market. Everything is full of voices and that specific tumult that can be experienced only here.

The Stone Town
The Stone Town – Photo: dpesta

During the slavery in Stone Town was the biggest slave market in Africa – up to 27.000 slaves were sold on it annually. It still exists today in the city, although it was closed two centuries ago. Slaves used to wait in crowded tiny underground rooms to be bought in a private auction by the slave owners and taken to their properties. In the city there is also the famous House of Wonders, the pride of Sultan Said. Palace once known for its splendor, was the first building in Africa that had an elevator, electric lights and running water. The entrance to the estate was adorned by the gate which was so big that an elephant could pass through it. The Palace also boasts a clock tower and, for a long time, this building has been the tallest in this part of the world. It was turned into a museum in which items from that era are kept. Upon entering Tanzania you get your Visa for which you pay 50€ or 50$, depending on the currency you have. 

At the end of the day the largest number of tourists gathers on the terrace of Africa House restaurant, where they have cocktails. The terrace offers a magnificent view of the turquoise-blue ocean where on the horizon you see fishing boats and the view goes all the way up to the Prison Island, which used to be a prison but today instead of prisoners is inhabited only by giant turtles.

Featured image: Amandad

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