House of Wonders

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House of Wonders Overview

The Bayt al-ʿAjāʾib, also known as the House of Wonders, stands as a prominent landmark in Stone Town, Zanzibar. Positioned along Mizingani Road, it proudly faces the Forodhani Gardens on the seafront of the old town, securing its status as the largest and tallest structure in Stone Town. Nestled between the Old Fort and Forodhani Mosque and Palace Museum (formerly the Sultan’s Palace), this architectural marvel is one of six palaces commissioned by Barghash bin Said, the second Sultan of Zanzibar.

Constructed in 1883 for Barghash bin Said, the House of Wonders served as a ceremonial palace and official reception hall, symbolizing modernity. The name “House of Wonders,” was earned because it was the first House in East Africa to have electricity and an elevator. The palace’s design is credited to a British marine engineer, introducing novel architectural elements to Zanzibar, such as expansive external verandas supported by cast-iron columns, enabling exceptionally high ceilings. 

The construction materials comprised a unique blend of coral rag, concrete slabs, mangrove shoots (boriti), and steel beams. The House of Wonders also housed the Museum of History and Culture of Zanzibar and the Swahili Coast, adding cultural significance to its legacy.

House of Wonders Gallery

Here are recommended tour to visit House of Wonders;

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