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Why Zanzibar?

This spectacular archipelago isn’t just about the sun, sand and sea. Philip Briggs outlines some other good reasons to go

Stone Town

Zanzibar’s time-worn Stone Town — an atmospheric enclave of around 2000 traditional buildings run through by a labyrinthine knot of narrow alleys — lies at the historical and cultural heart of the Swahili Coast. The ancient waterfront, lined with creaking dhows and their billowing sails, is guarded by the imposing battlements of the Old Fort, which started life as a Portuguese church in 1598, and was fortified by Omani Arabs a century later. Elsewhere, the enchanted traveller might wander past tall Zanzibari houses inhabited by the likes of Livingstone and Stanley before they launched their explorations into the African interior. More than any individual landmark, what strikes most visitors about Stone Town’s back streets, and their hotchpotch of African, Arabic, Asian and European influences, is the compelling sense of a place in which you can lose yourself — both literally and figuratively — for hours.

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