Connected to the mainland by a causeway, the biggest settlement on the island has a chequered history. Faza was almost totally destroyed by the Paté town citizens in the 13th century, then again by the Portuguese in 1586 or 1587 (accounts differ, but it is known that the Portuguese chopped off the local sheik’s head and preserved it in salt). With the demise of slavery, Faza faded away, but its status as an administrative centre is breathing some life back into the place.
The modern town is quite extensive, if not terribly interesting. A major fire in 2010 largely gutted the town and destroyed what old buildings there were (amazingly, nobody died). Today the town has been totally rebuilt and you’d hardly know that a fire had taken place. The only remaining historical relics are rotting Portuguese offices on the waterfront, the ruined Kunjanja Mosque on the creek next to the district headquarters, and the Mbwarashally Mosque, also ruined, with a mihrab containing beautiful heart motifs, including the shahada (Muslim declaration of faith) written in an inverted heart pattern. Outside town is the tomb of Amir Hamad, commander of the sultan of Zanzibar’s forces, who was killed here in 1844 while campaigning against Siyu and Paté.