Stone Town, Tanzania, is the old part of Zanzibar City on the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar, and is hugely popular with tourists and travelers of every type. It is accessible by several daily ferries from Dar Es Salaam; the crossing takes about two hours.
The tiny alleys of Stone Town make for an intriguing wander; initially, travelers will get lost almost immediately. It's a maze of narrow streets, but heading toward the ocean will eventually get you reoriented. Watch out for motorbikes, though; the streets -- too narrow for cars -- are filled with motorbikes and cycles.
Stone Town has so much of interest to see -- it's mostly architectural, with a huge range of styles represented, which makes Stone Town a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stone Town has been an immensely important port since the eighth century, and became a center of trade for spices and slaves during the nineteenth century. The architecture reflects the diversity of the people who traded here with examples of the original Swahili settlers and the Arab, Persian, Indian, and European traders who came here.
Stone Town's houses are characterized by ornately carved doorways, verandas with carved wooden balustrades, and long stone benches on the outside walls. Most of the major historical buildings can be found on the seafront with many former palaces, churches, mosques, and municipal buildings -- all made largely with coral stone, which gives the town its name. Among the most well-known and striking buildings are the Beit-Al-Ajaib (House of Wonders), The Old Fort, The Old Dispensary, and the Palace Museum. All of these are found on the seafront. Dotted around town are many small old mosques and churches.
As befitting a destination so popular with international tourists and travelers, Stone Town is loaded with accommodation choices. Most of the upmarket hotels are located in some of the oldest and most beautiful old houses in Stone Town. Budget travelers are well served by a small number of hostels in Stone Town, Tanzania. It helps to have detailed directions to get to these as the streets are difficult to navigate. Stone Town, Tanzania hostels all have dorm accommodation and are great sources of information for onward travel around the island of Zanzibar. There are a number of destinations around the island on the coast that also have hostel accommodation and recommendations are easily had in Stone Town, Tanzania hostels.
Zanzibar is an essential destination for travelers to Tanzania and you might find yourself extending you stay as you get caught up in the Stone Town atmosphere.
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