Ngome Kongwe
Zanzibar, Tanzania
The Ngome Kongwe, or Old Fort, is located in Stone Town on the seafront next to the House of Wonders. It was built in 1698-1701 by the Busaidi Omani Arabs on the site of an earlier Portuguese church, remnants of which can be seen built into the walls in the main courtyard. The fort is a large building with high brown crenellated stone walls. It was originally built as a defense against the Portuguese and a rival Omani group, then used as a prison in the 19th century and a railway depot in the early 20th century.

In the 1930s, the area in front of the fort was cleared and trees and shrubs were planted. Fountains and a gazebo were constructed, creating the Jubilee Gardens commemorating the Silver Jubilees of King George V and Sultan Khalifa in 1935 and 1936. In 1946, the entrance block facing the sea was rebuilt and the main courtyard was used as a ladies' tennis club. After the 1964 Revolution the fort fell into disuse, but it has been renovated and today is open to visitors.

In 1994, a portion of the fort was turned into an open-air theater with amphitheater-style seating.

Sources:

Bianca, Stefano & Francesco Siravo. Zanzibar: A Plan for the Historic Stone Town, 27. Geneva: The Aga Khan Trust for Culture, 1996.

McIntyre, Chris, and Susan McIntyre. Zanzibar, 186. Chalfont St. Peter: Bradt Travel Guides, 2013.
Location
Zanzibar, Tanzania
Images & Videos
Associated Names
Events
1698-1701
Variant Names
Ngome Kongwe
Old Fort
Translated
Arab Fort
Alternate
Building Usages
theatre
public/cultural
fort
military
Materials/Techniques
stone
Keywords
military architecture
touristic development
adaptive reuse