Tag Archives: Architecture

A peak inside the Gem of Zanzibar – Stone Town!

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A peak inside the Gem of Zanzibar – Stone Town!

Stone Town is not just any town – it’s a delight for the senses not to be found anywhere else in the world!

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Stone Town is a city of prominent historical and artistic importance in East Africa. Also known as Mji Mkongwe (Swahili for “old town”), it is located in the old part of Zanzibar City, which is the main city of Zanzibar, in Tanzania.

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Its architecture, which mostly dates back to the 19th century, has STORIES to tell, as it reflects the diverse influences of Swahili culture – yet also giving a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements.

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The buildings are honestly a feast for the eyes, despite their deteriorating condition. That only adds charm and character to the entire painting! Stone town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 due to it’s distinct archetecture.

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The most well-known feature of Zanzibari houses are the finely decorated wooden doors.

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You won’t find these giant wooden masterpieces anywhere else in the world! Elaborately carved with astonishing detail, the heavy doors in Stone Town are quintessentially ‘Zanzibar’, and served as a valuable glimpse into the homeowner’s place of origin, profession and economic status.

For example, the Indian doors were crafted by skilled tradesmen out of imported teak. The large brass studs have their origins in India, where they were once used as a defense against charging war elephants. In Stone Town, however, they were used only as decorative pieces and symbolic markers of wealth.

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Arab doors have intricately crafted frames with Arabic inscriptions at the top. The chain, lotus and pineapple are common and culturally significant motifs.

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The heart of Stone Town consists of a maze of narrow alleys lined by houses, shops, bazaars and mosques. The streets bustle along with bicycles and motorbikes as they are too narrow for cars. Stone Town can easily be explored on foot.

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Of course, the beaches in Zanzibar are RAVISHING, but this UNESCO World Heritage Site is definitely worth a stroll at some point during your holiday in which you feel like exploring. Trust me, it’s worth it – It is utterly captivating!

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I hope this has given you a good glimpse of a little town you may never have even heard of! Stone Town has an interesting history. Everything about this place will make you feel alive – from the melting pot of African, Arab, Indian and European cultures; the vivid shades of every color imaginable; the textures; the vibrant energy of the seafront and markets; and the locals who greet you with a “jambo!” (hello) and “karibu” (welcome) everyday!

To add to your itinerary, if you have been following me for a while, almost a year ago I wrote about the most unusual and amazing place to check out on the Indian Ocean off Zanzibar (which got a lot of buzz, thank you muah!). You can check that here:

https://karenskaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/the-rock-a-luxurious-fairytale-in-the-indian-ocean/

And OF COURSE I’m sure the main reason for your holiday would be for the astonishing beaches, with a day or so excursion to Stone Town, so I don’t want you to forget what that beautiful pond looks like 😁 —–>

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-Karen Bahri

 

 

 

 

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Escape the Summer Heat for an Arctic Paradise!

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Escape the Summer Heat for an Arctic Paradise!

Is the heat of the summer starting to get to you? Are you ALREADY tired of walking outside and feeling like you are walking into a sauna?! I meannn — not meee — but everyone around me seems to already be complaining. Double Womp! Anyways, here’s a cool story to take your mind off the heat —

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Northern Sweden’s ICEHOTEL was the world’s first hotel made of snow and ice when it opened back in 1989. Now, after yearssss of being built and rebuilt each winter, northern Sweden’s ICEHOTEL 365 will be the first frozen accommodation to stay open year-round!

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The tiny Swedish locality of Jukkasjärvi, which happens to be 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, was decided to be the perfect location for the 20-suite hotel, art gallery, and bar, constructed completely of  ice, which opened December 1st, 2016.

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The hotel’s interiors, conceptualized by a handpicked collection of international designers, include ice-sculpted suites ranging from 323–430 square feet built on reinforced pillars. Using a solar-powered cooling technology is what helps make all the magic happen!

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While nine suites are deluxe and eleven art-driven, each room is carved as bespoke artwork with wacky names like Hydro Smack and Oh Deer! As if this wasn’t tempting enough, the midnight sun shines for 100 consecutive days, making it possible to catch a glimpse of the mystical Northern Lights from September until late March!

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ICEHOTEL has been built to a fresh blueprint each year, using 5,000 tons of ice taken from the nearby River Torne in the spring and cold-stored over the summer.

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Sections of the hotel will continue to melt and be rebuilt as usual — meaning there will still be fresh new icy artworks for guests to enjoy each year! You will def have the coolest Instagram pics! So if you dare take up the challenge, this is definitely worth the chilly adventure!

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-Karen Bahri

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque – Iran’s Colourful Kaleidoscope is a spiritual awakening!

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Nasir al-Mulk Mosque – Iran’s Colourful Kaleidoscope is a spiritual awakening!

From the outside, the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, seems like a fairly traditional house of worship — but it hides a gorgeously colorful secret…

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The multitude of stained glass windows turn the inside of the mosque into a mosaic wonderland of color that is absolutely breathtaking!!! It is also known as the “Pink Mosque” for its rose-colored tiles that cover the interior. However, choosing just one color doesn’t do justice to the kaleidoscope of hues that decorate this masterpiece.

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It is said that the mosque’s beauty is best appreciated in the dawn’s morning light. In fact, you can only see the light through the stained glass in the early morning. It was built to catch the morning sun, therefore, if you visit at noon, it will unfortunately be too late to catch the light. This is a case in which the early bird does catch the worm! So rise and shine!!

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The sight of the morning sunlight shining through the colorful stained glass, which then falls over the tightly woven Persian carpet is soo enchanting that it takes you straight into another world! There is something very enlightening about the whole experience that even the world’s most unreligious person can’t help but feel the spiritual energy once they experience the brilliance of the energy from the light and the kaleidoscopic colors!

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If the beaming light and the vibrant colors are not enough to take your fancy, the intricate design of the arches and niches of the architecture are also gorgeously designed and painted very mesmerizingly so, that I know you will fall in love!

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Ceiling work

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Though Masjid al-Aqsa, in Jerusalem and Istanbul’s Blue Mosque both feature stained glass windows as well, they are fairly uncommon in mosque architecture as a whole. The rarity of architecture like this makes Nasir al-Mulk all the more precious.

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-Karen Bahri