Old Fort, Stone Town, Zanzibar © Chen Hualin
Built at the turn of the 17th century on the remains of a Portuguese church and crumbling Arab garrison, the burly Old Fort was constructed to fend off the enterprising Portuguese seafarers and Mazrui Arabs of Mombassa keen to gain power of the lucrative 'Spice Islands'. The Mazrui Arabs launched an attack in 1754 coming off unsuccessfully against the stoic Old Fort. The thick caramel walls and castellated battlements later acted as a place of incarceration, detaining local criminals and slaves. In later years the fort functioned as the depot for the Bububu railway, Zanzibar's first railway, which once wound from Zanzibar Town to Bububu, but no longer exists.
Nowadays the Old Fort houses shops and henna painting stores and the Cultural Centre where visitors can marvel at the fine artistry of local craftsmen at work. In the evening local music and dancing at the open-air theatre brightens up the night and occasional film screenings are shown.
Address: Mizingani Street, Stone Town