Zanzibar is a tropical island in the Indian Ocean, part of the Republic of Tanzania, located just 6 degrees south of the equator and 38 kilometers off the coast of Africa. It is one of the most sought after exotic destinations of recent years, with amazing white beaches, heavenly landscapes and summer temperatures throughout the year.
Even the name “Zanzibar” is exotic. It is related to spices and pirates, as well as to the slave trade that took place here centuries ago.
Most travelers who come to Zanzibar beaches come with the thought of relaxing on the exotic white beaches with their tall palm trees. And indeed, the beaches on this island are among the most beautiful in the world, with Nungwi, Kendwa and Kiwengwa being the most popular. But Zanzibar means much more than that. It has interesting cities, historical sights, colorful markets and is the birthplace of rock superstar Freddie Mercury, the former vocalist of the legendary Queen band.
Here are some key facts about this island:
Zanzibar is an autonomous region of Tanzania. It consists of 2 large islands in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Tanzania, these islands being called Zanzibar (Unguja) and Pemba. It also has a number of smaller islands. The capital of this autonomous region is the city of Zanzibar (here is StoneTown, a very spectacular ancient place, included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site).
There is a third island – called the Mafia, but it is governed by Tazania, which also attracts a lot of foreign tourists, especially those who are passionate about scuba diving and fishing.
About Stone Town:
The ancient city of Zanzibar was built entirely of stone, in the times of pirates and slaves. It is now a tourist place and has been under the protection of UNESCO since 2000.
There are a few very interesting places in this part of the capital of Zanzibar, such as Wonderland House and Dr. Livingstone House.
The House of Wonders is called this way because it was built in 1883 for the Sultan, and is also the first building in Zanzibar that was connected to electricity. It is also the first building on the island to have an elevator. The House of Wonders is currently used as a museum, having exhibits that mostly refer to Swahili culture.
Dr. Livingstone’s house was built in 1860, when it was to be used by David Livingstone as a preparation site for his last exploration trip, which took place in 1866. Today, the building is occupied by the Zanzibar Tourist Corporation. David Livingstone was a Scottish physician, who lived a good part of his life as a Protestant and exploratory missionary in Central and Eastern Africa. He became known for his anti-slavery actions.
Just off the coast of the historic City of StoneTown is Changuu Island. Centuries ago, this was called the Prison Island, because it was the place where slaves would be quarantined. Currently, Changuu Island is a haven for giant sea turtles and a great place for scuba diving and snorkeling, making it an extremely popular tourist attraction.
Another place you are not allowed to miss is when you arrive at Stauntown is Freddie Mercury’s house. Many do not know that the great singer was born in the capital of Zanzibar, although he spent much of his childhood in India. The building where Freddie and his family lived, Bulsara, is located near the Double Tree by Hilton, on a street with many shops, at No. 139. It is a very modest house with a traditional wooden door. It is now an exhibition but there is not much to see – only a few pictures of Freddie at maturity, on various scenes around the world.