Zanzibar, Tanzania

General Information

Regional secretariat


Administrative status

Capital of the Zanzibar Archipelago, Tanzania

The Stone Town of Zanzibar

Registration Year


Historical function

Comercial and cultural

Location and site

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.

Urban morphology

The individual buildings in the Stone town manifest, through their structure, construction materials and techniques, the interchange and influence of the different cultures around the Indian Ocean rim. The outstanding universal value of the property resides in the character of the assemblage of blocks (cluster) and buildings, the layout of the Town including the relationship of buildings to the open spaces, streets, roads and gardens, the character of the littoral edge viewed from the sea, and the nature of access to the sea from the land. 

The property boundary coincides with the boundary of the Urban Conservation Area including the port area to the north, bounded by beaches along the north-west and south-west, open areas to the east and older part of Darajani Street. The buffer zone covers the historic part of Ng’ambo that includes part of the modernist buildings of Michenzani and the main road of Mlandege.

Registration criteria

Criterion (ii): The Stone Town of Zanzibar is an outstanding material manifestation of cultural fusion and harmonization.

Criterion (iii): For many centuries there was intense seaborne trading activity between Asia and Africa, and this is illustrated in an exceptional manner by the architecture and urban structure of the Stone Town.

Criterion (vi): Zanzibar has great symbolic importance in the suppression of slavery, since it was one of the main slave-trading ports in East Africa and also the base from which its opponents, such as David Livingstone, conducted their campaign.

Historical reference

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 major buildings date from the 18th and 19th centuries. 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.




Zanzibar Municipal Council

Town Hall Office Malindi
Zanzibar, Urban/West Region, Tanzania
P.O. Box 1288

[email protected]

Mr. Issa S. Makarani

Director General
Stone Town Conservation and Development authority - The World Heritage Site

P.O. Box :4233
Zanzibar, Tanzania

+255 777 432002