The History That Shaped Zanzibar into the Idyllic Destination It Is Today
Unless you know the road you’ve come down, you cannot know where you are going.
– Zanzibar Proverb
At Chuini Zanzibar Beach Lodge, you’ll find incredible reminders of life as it was in earlier years. Ancient ruins are juxtaposed with the lodge’s crisp white bungalows which are the picture-perfect representation of luxury island accommodation. This contrast creates an intriguing atmosphere; one that is bound to pique guests’ interest in the history that unfolded in this region and further afield on the island.
Zanzibar’s central location, near to the equator, off Africa’s east coast, made it a gateway to the continent in the 15th century when it became a prominent trade centre. It was a base for travellers, especially traders, from other parts of Africa, Arabia and India. It grew into a culturally diverse meeting point.
Over the years, adding to its mixed society, Zanzibar fell under the rule of various global leaders. The Portuguese Empire gained control over Zanzibar in the late 15th century and kept power for almost 200 years before the Sultanate of Oman took control in 1698. Some decades later, the sultan palace was built and its remnants remain an important part of Zanzibar’s cultural heritage in the form of a museum.
During the 19th century, in particular, the country became recognised for its spices. While Zanzibar had long produced spices, it was mostly at this point in time that it became a pillar of economic strength for the country. In fact, the frequent trading of spices such as cloves, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper and cardamom earned Zanzibar the nickname, “The Spice Island”.
Eventually, also in the 19th century, the British Empire took over control of the country. In 1963, Zanzibar gained independence. Later, the Republic of Zanzibar merged with mainland Tanganyika, now Tanzania, and became the United Republic of Tanzania. Zanzibar remains a semi-autonomous region.
The island boasts a mixed display of its cultural roots in the form of architecture, ethnicity and cuisine. In fact, on naming Zanzibar’s main city, Stone Town a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000, the organisation described the region as “an outstanding material manifestation of cultural fusion and harmonisation.”
Exploring the Region’s History during Your Visit
- Spices remain intrinsic to Zanzibar’s culture and as such, the famous spice farms, only three kilometres away from Chuini Zanzibar Beach Lodge, offer a remarkable visit.
- Those with a particular interest in history will enjoy a trip to Prison Island, approximately thirty minutes away from the main island, by boat. Surprisingly, the prison on Prison Island was in fact never used to house prisoners and as such, has developed an interesting story.
- Another journey that pays tribute to the past can be taken on Grave Island, where a naval cemetery that dates back to the 1800s, is located.
- Sightseeing at Stone Town where the historic Old Fort of Zanzibar and the Forodhani Gardens are located is additionally recommended.
Our insightful team will gladly provide you with further information on these destinations when planning your trip to Chuini Zanzibar Beach Lodge!
Having journeyed through time, overcome a number of changes and established itself as a highly sought-after tourist destination, it’s safe to say that Zanzibar is headed in the right direction.