Kilwa Kisiwani, an authentic historical town in Real South, Located about 300km south of Dar es Salaam, Kilwa Kisiwani is the leading historical site in southern Tanzania.
A quick visit to Kilwa Kisiwani gives a thrilling memory when discussing the rich history of the Swahili coast that extends along the Eastern coast of the Indian Ocean in Tanzania.
Despite the beauty of this Island which is located in Kilwa District, Lindi Region, memories of the past civilization and early settlements could be a memoir of a lifetime for any tourist venturing this part of Tanzania.
With its twin island of Songo Mnara, Kilwa Kisiwani is the United Nations Scientific and Educational Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site, known by its rich history and Swahili cultural heritage blended with African and Arabic cultures.
Kiliwa Kisiwani is a tourist site, standing among the leading, earliest trading towns on the East African coast. Historical buildings in the island were constructed with coral stone mixed with limestone materials which had made the architecture beautiful and stable to survive weather conditions characterized by humid and hot temperatures for hundreds of years.
The Island had its prosperity achieved from the control of the Indian Ocean trade with Arabia, India and China between the 13th and 16th centuries, when gold and ivory from the mainland Tanzania and Congo were traded for silver, carnelians, perfumes, Persian faience and Chinese porcelain.
Most attractive, are mosques built in 13th century and a Portuguese Fort, which are presently give the island its historical fame. These mosques are dating between 13th and 18th centuries.
Between each mosque, there are cemeteries and worship places decorated with early Chinese porcelain and Persian artifacts including ceramics materials from the Middle East. Kilwa Kisiwani was occupied from the 9th to the 19th centuries by Oman Sultans and Persian merchants. Between 13th and 14th centuries, the island thrived as a leading business center on the Indian Ocean coast.
According to great Muslim traveler Ibn-Battuta who visited and stayed in Kilwa Kisiwani between 1331 and 1332, the island was ranked among the most beautiful cities of the world during that time.
The Great Mosque of Kilwa was the largest mosque of its kind in East Africa. The mosque accommodates two mosques, all constructed in 11th century.
Ibn-Battuta had explained this mosque to have been built by the ruler of Kilwa Kisiwani, Sultan al-Hasan ibn Sulaiman.
Makutani palace is the other building of the past where the sultan of Kilwa Kisiwani resided. The building was constructed in 1516 and fitted with minarets to encounter invaders.
There are spacious rooms for women and bathrooms; all decorated with earthen-wares and ceramics. Orchids and green trees were planted to provide shade and beautifying the palace.
Another attraction at Kilwa Kisiwani is the Portuguese Fort. This beautiful building was later used as a garrison by the Arabs and Germans to punish Africans who opposed their occupation over the east coast.
Kilwa Kisiwani remains the old trading town of the Indian Ocean and that had attracted trade with Arabia, India and China, particularly between the 13th and 16th centuries, when gold and ivory trade from the mainland Tanzania thrived.
Silver, carnelians, perfumes, Persian faience and Chinese porcelain were the leading trading goods between Kilwa Kisiwani, Oman, China and Persia (Iran).
Most interesting, Kilwa Kisiwani minted its own currency in the 11th to 14th centuries.
The World Heritage Committee had approved the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara as the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Source: Tanzania Tourist Board – Destinations