Beit el-Sahel

Beit el-Sahel information

Location
Zanzibar Town , Tanzania
Address
Mizingani Rd
Prices
adult/child US$4/1
Opening hours
9am-6pm
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Occupying several blocks along the waterfront, the imposing Palace Museum is a reconstruction of the Sultan Seyyid Said’s 19th-century palace home, which was destroyed by the British bombardment of 1896. It was renamed the People’s Palace in 1964 when the last sultan, Jamshid, was overthrown. Remarkably. much of the royal paraphernalia – banqueting tables, portraits, thrones and water closets – have survived and now provide the human interest story in this museum dedicated to the Sultanate from 1828 to 1896.

During its day the palace and adjacent harem, Beit el-Hukm , were a self-contained ecosystem with raised, private walkways traversing city streets, thus avoiding the need to ever venture outside. Insights into the life of the palace can be gleaned from Princess Salme’s fascinating book Memoirs of an Arabian Princess (1886), which you can buy in the museum. The youngest of 36 children, Salme was born to a Circassian concubine and herself caused a society scandal when she eloped to Hamburg with a German merchant in 1866. Getting to know the key players, such as her brothers Barghash and Majid, helps bring to life the now dusty displays. Both Barghash and Majid are buried outside in the Makusurani graveyard , alongside four other sultans.