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Zanzibar > Pictures and travelogues > Stone Town Forodhani Park & Old Fort

Pictures from Stone Town in Zanzibar Island: the Old fort and Forodhani Gardens.

Forodhani Gardens in Stone Town, Zanzibar
Forodhani Gardens in Stone Town, Zanzibar.

Forodhani Gardens is located along the seafront of Stone Town, between the sea on one side and the Old Fort and the House of Wonders on the other side. This public garden is a point of social gathering, family leisure, and, at night, a major tourist attraction in Stone Town.

Forodhani Gardens was laid out in 1935 in honor of the silver jubilee of King George V. Therefore it has been known as Jubilee Gardens until the 1964 Revolution. The site, once a flourishing garden, was first  the landing point of the former Sultans of Zanzibar. In the 19th century, it was occupied by customs sheds that were destroyed by the British in 1896.

In 1936, the central bandstand and the pier were added on the occasion of the silver jubilee of Zanzibar's Sultan. Forodhani Gardens was rehabilitated by Aga Khan Trust for Culture in 2009.

Forodhani gardens is a quiet and shady meeting place that actually comes alive after the sunset with its open-air street food market. At night, food stalls and barbecue grills are set up. Tourists and locals mingle, taking a stroll or coming to eat at Forodhani Gardens. 

Choose what you like, such as
 kebabs, fried chicken, grilled seafood, octopus, samosas or Zanzibari pizza or simply drinks such as sugar cane juice. See your food cooked right in front of you. Then go and sit on the grass or on the small concrete seawall.
Prices are very reasonable and negotiable. Quality is variable. Woodcarvings, jewelry and other crafts are on sale too.

Another popular meeting place in Stone Town is the balcony bar situated on the first floor of the Africa House Hotel. This  large open-air terrace bar offers views on Stone Town's seaside and sunset.

The Old Fort (Omani Fort)  in Stone Town, Zanzibar
The Old Fort (Omani Fort) in Stone Town, Zanzibar.

The Old Fort, also known as Ngome Kongwe, was built by the Omanis (the Busaidi dynasty) around 1700 after the expulsion of the Portuguese. The Omanis used the last remnants of Portuguese fortifications, prison, and church. The Fort is a massive, bastioned structure with a roughly square shape, heavy coral ragstone walls and cylindrical towers. It was one of the first stone buildings in Zanzibar. It was located just at the seaside in Stone Town.

The Fort aimed at preventing the Portuguese from invading again Zanzibar. The Portuguese and their allies, the Mazruis (based in Mombasa but also originally from Oman) never managed to conquer it. Instead, the Busaidi dynasty succeeds in wresting Mombasa from the Mazruis in 1827 and controlled the western Indian Ocean for much of the nineteenth century.

The Fort did not get severely damaged after the British Navy bombing in 1896.

Afterwards, the Old Fort was used as a prison and a place of execution by the British. In the 1920's, it became a railway depot and workshop when the railway line from Bububu to Stone Town was built.


Stone Town's Old Fort is now a cultural center.

Open air amphitheatre in the Old Fort, Stone Town (Zanzibar)
Open air amphitheater in the Old Fort, Stone Town (Zanzibar).

The courtyard of Stone Town's Old fort has been adapted to serve as a cultural center. Its amphitheater is the main venue used for large cultural events such as the Zanzibar International Film Festival and the Sauti za Busara. It houses also workshops and daily live dance and music shows.


 

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Travel guide and travel directory to Zanzibar with many pictures.