Zanzibar Landmarks and Monuments

(Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, East Africa)

A large number of Zanzibar's most familiar landmarks and monuments can be found within a short distance from Stone Town. Many of these are natural sights, such as Coral Cave and the caverns found at Kiwengwa.

Sightseers based in Stone Town may also like to pay a visit to Prison Island, which was used as a prison for slaves who were awaiting transfer to the Middle East and Europe. Kelele Square, the historic Ngome Kongwe fortifications and the ruins of Mtoni Palace will also vie for your attention, so be sure to allocate plenty of time to tour the principal sights around the capital.

Others landmarks serve as true monuments to Zanzibar's past, both colonial and pre-colonial, a time when Arab sultans ruled over these African islands.

Prison Island

Address: Changuu Private Island, nearby Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, Africa
Prison Island is today a much more peaceful place. It is perhaps best known as the home of a group of giant Aldabra tortoises. Imported onto the island in the late 19th century, some of these extraordinary shelled residents are thought to be over a hundred years old. Visitors can feed the tortoises and enjoy a walk through the island's forest.

The island itself has white sandy beaches making it ideal for a spot of relaxing. The only evidence of the prison itself is a building that dates back to the final years of the 19th century.
Open hours: daily
Admission: charge

Mtoni Palace Ruins

Address: Malawi Road, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, Africa
Mtoni Palace - the 'Palace by the Stream', is one of Zanzibar's oldest landmarks. Although it is little more than a ruin these days, it still has tremendous significance in terms of the country's heritage and the influence of its former owner, Sultan Sayyid Said. In its heyday, when the Sultan first moved his imperial capital from Muscat to Zanzibar, the palace was a bustling and rather opulent residence.

In its heyday, around a thousand people are thought to have lived within the confines of the palace and its grounds, including Princess Salme, who later went onto write her 'Memoir of an Arabian Princess'. Towards the end of the 19th century, however, the palace was abandoned and its condition allowed to deteriorate. It takes quite a lot of imagination to envisage just what it used to be like when people lived here. It is not possible to wander around on your own, for safety reasons, and a guide must accompany all visitors.
Open hours: daily
Admission: charge

Kiwengwa Caves

Address: Kiwengwa, Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, Africa
Located within the Kiwengwa-Pongwe Forest Reserve, these deep caves are steeped in local mythology. They are also known for the large numbers of bats and insects that live within them. The North and South Caves are both open to the public. The East Cave is closed to visitors, however, in order to preserve its wild inhabitants.
Open hours: daily
Admission: free

Kelele Square

Address: Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, Africa
At the heart of Stone Town is Kelele Square, an open green space that is surrounded by some of Zanzibar Town's most important buildings. These include the former American Consulate and the historic Mambo Msiige building. When the slave trade was at its peak, the square was the site of a slave market and often brimming with crowds.
Open hours: daily
Admission: free

Coral Cave

Address: Mangapwani, Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, Africa
Situated a short drive north of Stone Town, Mangapwani's Coral Cave is an interesting monument to Zanzibar's early inhabitants. Who used this deep natural cavern remains something of a historical puzzle. However, it is believed that it has some connection with the slave trade in Zanzibar. One such story is that slaves were taken through the cavern, via underground tunnels, to the beach to be taken away by dhow boat. Today, the entrance to the cavern can be reached via a short walk and several stone steps.
Open hours: daily
Admission: charge

The Old Fort (Ngome Kongwe)

Address: Sukokuu Street, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, Africa
The most historic of all the buildings standing in Stone Town is also one of the most visited landmarks based here. With its high walls and waterfront location, it must once have been an imposing sight for anyone trying to attack the island. Built in the 17th century to repel invading Portuguese forces, the fort has been variously used as a prison, army barracks and depot.

Today, the fort's courtyard plays a peaceful role, as a place where tourists can buy souvenirs or find out more about Stone Town itself. The fort is also occasionally used as a venue for music and other large events.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 20:00
Admission: free