Take a step a few centuries back: Tanzanian Kilwa Kisiwani (isle of fish)

Welcome to Kilwa Kisiwani, a once upon a time a burgeoning empire, the most powerful and the biggest on the coast of East Africa. The ruins offer insight into once upon a time, labyrinth pathways, majestic mosques and grand palaces. 

A journey into the historic Kilwa is a discovery of incredible walls of wealth.  It may be away from usual tourist pathways, but offers magnificence outlook of living in past centuries.

The city reaching the shore is surrounded by walls and towers of about 12000 inhabitants. The luxurious setting of tree, gardens, every type of vegetable, and the best lemons. citrons and sweetest oranges ever.

The Kilwa isle – A  World Heritage Site

The Island of Kilwa, centuries ago, had trade routes ignited with its abundance of wealth. By the 20th century, it became uninhabited and forgotten. Foreigners and locals had no interest in the Tanzanian coastal ruins.

Around the 1950s,  Portuguese and Arabs, excavated the site to find objects of authenticity.  They succeeded in collecting coins dating back in time. The unique history of Kilwa is currently recognized as a treasure of Swahili history. In the year 1981, it was declared a World Heritage Site.

The Kilwa creation beginnings

The Kilwa Sultanate empire all started in the 10th century, Ali ibn al Hassan, the son of an Abyssinian slave and Emir of Shiraz was caught in a battle of inheritance with six other brothers.

Ali fled, settling on the island of Kilwa that was inhabited by indigenous Bantu dwellers. He began to construct his very own city.  According to legend, he bought Kilwa from the local King, who exchanged the island for enough cloth that would encircle the entire island.

By the time the king changed his mind, Ali already destroyed the bridge connecting Kilwa to the mainland and secured it for himself.

The ruling of Ali Shirazi continued until the year 1277 when the succession crisis led to Mahdali sultans taking over.The first three centuries there were many buildings like the Great Mosque that was started in 1100 and expanded.

Sixteen domes and ornate rooms of arches and pillars made an astonishing complex. When the Morrocan traveler Ibn Battuta visited the island in 1331 he was struck by the splendor of the mosque.

There are smaller mosques scattered all across Kilwa each with distinct features.

The isles ruin date back to the 14th century and early 15th century. Kilwa was a mercantile capital and the wealthy residents built extravagant coral dwellings.

A sultan is alleged to be buried in one of four tombs of the Great house. The triangular robust Makutini Palace was built in the 15th century.

A fortress on the island, Gereza, has wooden portals and elegant crenellation.  The striking ‘Husuni Kubwa’ ( Queen’s house) is perched on a cliff a mile away from the cluster of ruins.  It is said to be the largest pre-colonial Sub Saharan building. There is an 18 dome mosque, vast  hall, courtyards and swimming pool/ The complex has over 100 rooms

 The most powerful city on the East African coast the empire stretches from the north to the south from Kenya to Mozambique.

Ships brought in Arabian quarts, china porcelain, Indian carnelians and ivory and gold from Great Zimbabwe. Spices and perfume filled the air with tortoise shells and pottery in the market. It was the gateway between Asia and Africa.

There are three areas on the Tanzanian coast to add to an itinerary of colorful historic adventures and explore the ruins that go centuries back in time.

  • Kilwa Kisiwani
  • Kilwa Kivinje
  • Kilwa Masoko.

Kilwa Kisiwani

Remnants of extraordinary palaces, ancient tombs and crumbling mosques, the abandoned city of Kilwa Kisiwani is one of the main attractions on the isle.

Kilwa Kivinje

A little town on the mainland it was the center of slave trade in the south. Although slave trade was outlawed in 1873 it is said to have continued until 1880. Made into an administrative center when Germans occupied,

Travellers can explore World War One cannon leftovers as well as a market hall. There is an attractive beach with fisherman provide authentic insight of Tanzania.

Kilwa Masoko

Kilwa Masojo is usually a base when people visit the ruins in Kilwa Kisiwani with pleasant exploration if the Jimbizi Beach.

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