The Stone Town of Zanzibar is a fine example of the Swahili coastal trading towns of East Africa. It 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 buildings of the Stone Town, executed principally in coralline ragstone and mangrove timber, set in thick lime mortar and then plastered and lime-washed, reflect a complex fusion of Swahili, Indian, Arab and European influences in building traditions and town planning. The two storey houses with long narrow rooms disposed around an open courtyard reached through a narrow corridor, are distinguished externally by elaborately carved double ‘Zanzibar’ doors, and some by wide verandahs, and by richly decorated interiors. Together with, the simple ground floor Swahili houses and the narrow façade Indian shops along “bazaar” streets constructed around a commercial space “duka”.