House of Wonders (Beit el-Ajaib)
House of Wonders, Zanzibar © Moongateclimber
The first building in Zanzibar to have electricity and the first building in East Africa to have an elevator, Beit el-Ajaib (which translates into the House of Wonders) was the former ceremonial palace of Sultan Barghash and was built in 1883 on the site of Queen Fatuma's residence. A striking white building, the House of Wonders has housed many influential tenants, used by the British as their local offices and as the headquarters of Tanzania's political party CCM.
Reopened in 2005 after a renovation project to maintain Beit el-Ajaib's cultural heritage, visitors can now freely admire the intricately carved doors, the Portuguese cannons dating from the 16th century, and the tiers of pillars and wraparound balconies, which make the palace so attractive. Don't miss the immaculate views from the top storey, the museum displays of coastal East African history and culture, and the craft market playing out on the veranda during the day.
Address: Mizingani Road, Stone Town