What: A thriving market with an incomparable mix of architecture and cultures.

Why it Works: The Zanzibar Old Town Market is a classic Swahili public space, mixing architectural and cultural influences from East Africa, Arabia, Persia, and India. Rather than the open-plan “plaza” of Western societies, descended from the Forum, the heritage of the Zanzibar market is the “Casbah” or “bazaar.” Thus, the market winds along dense city streets bracketed by the tall sandstone and white coral-wash mercantile buildings indigenous to the Swahili coast. The market is daily thriving with people seeking supplies for household board, from equatorial fruits to grains, fish, vegetables, and the famous spices. There are several different markets nestled throughout Zanzibar Old Town: some specialize in fresh-caught seafood, others in household wares, used clothes, local and imported cloth, jewlry, crafts, and tourist goods. The market defines civic sociability in a culture with very firm separations between private and public spaces. Zanzibar Old Town Market is a superior public arena because it is busy, industrious, purposeful, and valuable to people in the everyday conduct of life in the town.

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GREAT PUBLIC SPACES: Zanzibar Old Town Market (Zanzibar, Tanzania) was last modified: March 6th, 2012 by Craig Raphael