STONE TOWN DOORS
The doors have become more or less synonym with the Swahili culture where they are mainly found in East Africa; Lamu, Mombasa (Kenya) and in Zanzibar. The doors in Zanzibar outnumber the doors, both in number and in grandness, found elsewhere along the coast, and thus being named ‘ Zanzibar doors’. An inventory done in the 1980s reported around 800 doors. Unfortunately the number has decreased due to the diminishing of several houses.
In principal there are two types of doors found in Stone Town in Zanzibar. The Indian doors, or Gujarati doors, with square shutters and made into smaller sections so that the door can fold together. These doors are to be seen along the busy bazaar streets where the Indian businessmen lived. The second type is called ‘Arab doors’, these doors are often found with an inscription in Arabic – most likely a phrase from the Holy Quraan – on the top frieze, and richly decorated around the frame. The older doors were all square at top. The semi-circular frames were introduced later, but are still referred to as ‘Arab doors’.
One of the oldest doors in Stone Town can be found at the entrance to the Old Fort. Another one is the well maintained door at the Zanzibar Conservation Centre (former Old Customs house) along the Forodhani seafront.