The tropical island in the Indian Ocean is known for its idyllic beaches, breath-taking diving spots, stunning nature and rich spice culture. Relaxation, that’s the main reason for a holiday on the island. The name “Zanzibar” in itself awakens dreams of a tropical paradise.
Lesser known is the centuries-old and mostly well preserved historic centre in the west of the island: Stone Town!
The buildings relfect the importance this once so significant point of international trade embodied. In the maze of alleyways, you will see African, Arabian, Indian and European influences. Huge palaces of the Omani and elaborately decorated carvings on Indian teak-wood doors let you feel the flair of the past. They shape the multicultural and worldwide unique cityscape, which has been acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2000.
The Italian development foundation “ACRA” funded by the European Commission set out to achieve the long-term preservation of this special place, which is in danger of deterioration.
Locals are being trained to preserve the world heritage site
Starting in February 2014, the project today trains more than 400 craftsmen and women in the restauration of these buildings.
It also trains more than 200 teachers and 120 selected students of the Karume Institute of Technology in the conscious dealing with the world heritage site. More than 50 tour guides take language courses and receive theoretical training in the history of arts and architecture. Thus, they will be able to communicate the importance of the site to tourists and raise awareness for the importance of its restauration and preservation.
In various practical and theoretical courses, students undertake exemplary conservations on selected buildings. These can serve as examples for future conservation and restoration efforts in Stone Town.
In the long run, a Bachelor degree will ensure that qualified local professionals advance the continuous preservation and restauration of Stone Town.
First success is visible: the UPENDO house
Opposite the well-known Zanzibar Coffee House, you will find UPENDO House – one of the buildings selected for restauration in the framework of the project. The Interfaith Centre has its offices in this house, built in the 19th century. Here, women are trained in sewing to make a living. Downstairs, you will find a little shop, where you can buy handmade clothes for children and women.
As a result of the restoration, the neoclassical facade of the building with its blue pigmented plasterwork and its floral freeze under the eaves, is visible again and well-worth a visit.
Parts of the neoclassical plaster were replaced with new lime plaster, using traditional techniques. Microbial growth has been removed and the freeze consolidated, cleaned and retouched.
The facade has been lime washed with a traditional, self-made lime colour – of course pigmented again with the same blue pigment: synthetic ultramarine.
Visit Stone Town to see for yourself!