in travel •  last year


"Why would something as mundane as a door gather so much attention and love?" I wondered? But I did not understand until I was strolling in Stone Town in Zanzibar.

Suddenly my head was turning. I was touching and feeling. I cupped my hands on the cold brass studs of hundreds of doors. I patiently run my hands through the teak wood, feeling the grooves and highlights. I took photographs. I tried to decode how they made the doors. So much was going through my head… What I felt was a cross between wonder and love!

I knew that I had this thing for doors when I visited. It is because where I was from, doors were more functional than aesthetic. Growing up, we had a very basic wooden door that would get a fresh coat of paint every year. I never even paid any attention to it.

The best way to discover this doors is to walk on the narrow streets of Stone town. People will not ask you if you decide to take photos or marvel. As I immersed myself into the travel experience, I asked our guide tons of questions about the Zanzibar doors and I learned so much. Here are some of the interesting things.

1. The original design of the Zanzibar doors has been the same for years

Stone Town is a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage site. These are sites/ landmarks in the world that is protected by UNESCO due to their scientific, historical or cultural significance. Zanzibar has a cultural and historical significance because of the 18th Century Slave Trade therefore everything (including doors) is to remain the same in the town.

Watching the town from a high point

You can also see the Arab influences on architecture & buildings

2. Every door has a story

Each door tells a story about the owner's wealth, religion and social class. The doors with beautiful and intricate details belong to the rich and influential members of the society. I realised that some of the doors were very polished while others were very old and faded. Some were just supported by hinges and would fall apart any minute.

Delapidated door

3. You cannot renovate your door without a permit

All the houses and structures in Stone Town are protected by UNESCO and locals cannot just do what they like or make changes. They have to apply for a permit from their local government. We passed by a house where renovations were being done and they had stuck a photocopy of the permit on the wall to prevent arrest and to show any law enforcers that they had express permission.

A hybrid of Indian and Arab door

4. The Swahili doors are very minimal

Stone Town has different influences including Swahili, Arabic an Indian. The influences can be seen on decor and architecture. The Swahili doors are not fancy and they do not have crazy decorations. The Swahili locals are the majority. They do not have intricate details on their doors and it is easy to identify them.

5. The Indian doors have brass knobs that protected them from elephants.

As the Indians came to the strategically located island of Zanzibar to trade in the 18th Century, they brought their influences on architecture. In India, the brass knobs would protect houses from elephant attacks. Even though there were no elephants in the island, they still made their doors like that. Indian doors are very big when compared to the Swahili ones. Some of the doors are also foldable.

The biggest Indian door we saw

6. The Arab doors are rectangular and they have intricate details.

These doors were very beautiful and had details carved on the wood. Most of them were polished. They have vines, leaves and other symbols and patterns.

Top view of the door. See the architecture & arabic influences

View as you enter the house

7. The most famous door is on Tippu Tip’s House.

Tippu Tip was a Zanzibar slave trader in the 18th century. His door is near the African House Hotel, a famous landmark in Stone Town. This is a very huge, old and forlorn door. However, people come from far and wide to see this door.

Freddie Mercury's (iconic lead vocalist of the rock band Queen) door is also very famous.

8. Most of these doors were made of teak wood but now are made of black wood and mahogany.

Teak became hard to find so the artisans resorted to using mahogany and blackwood because they have almost the same characteristics and look. They are also easier to source.

9. The bigger the traders, the bigger the door.

Doors were like a show of strength among these merchants.

Travel tip

Make sure to carry a small door with you when you visit to remind you of the beauty of the doors.

Authored by and photographed by: @jeanwandimi

Cameras used: Canon G7X and Canon Rebel t5i*

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Very interesting post. Thanks for a tour of all of the world's doors!

Amazing photos! :D


outstanding images keep it up!


Super Amazing photos😍😍

The big Indian door with spikes seems to be dangerous. Haha! Thanks for sharing. Very interesting photos.


these photos are really good, keep sharing <3


I know. right? They warded off elephants. Thanks.

Very nice to look at these pictures.
Maybe one day there will be a huge steemit door.
Steemit the front door to the internet.


Hah. We can only hope. Nice.

Great post and Incredible place @jeanwandimi I must have just missed you!


I feel super duper great when i see posts from people who have have visited Tanzania. And hre i was thinking it doesnt get much attention. Hehe bwoy was i wrong. Yeeeeyyy. Hope you loved your stay.


Hey. Thanks @thisisbenbrick Wow When were you there?

Never thought to study doors in such detail. I've always admired workmanship, but the significant thought and reason behind the door design has never struck me beyond the esthetic. Nice photos!


I wanna say the same thing also @retiredinsamar. This is just so great, making us see things around us differently.


I will never look at another door the same way again!


I also had the same thought until I visited and heard the stories. So amazing! @retiredinsamar. Thanks @abxiab , @sissyjill & @esecoal.

@edesegun those were some giant doors! Haha.


such an amazing doors with beautiful work. and also great pics


you just took the word off my mouth practically


Waow! The human to door ratio is incredible. Although the door is really nice... 👍


Large doors are just in case the Giant People return! lol

What a great post, I had no idea how doors stand for so much! Loving the photos too! 👍🏻

Interesting place! Those authentic doors looks impressive. A place which I plan to visit:) Thanks for sharing!




Great doors indeed!
And people love to open huge doors.


Thats a nice one! I love.


hahahah that s funny one!


Oh yeah!

Yeah, It is definitely correct to say that the doors show the wealth of the person. In India the biggest example of such door is Buland Darwaja - Main Entrance for the Palace at Fatehpur Sikri, built by Emperor Akbar to celebrate his victory of Gujrat. The door is the symbol of power and riches of Mughal Dynasty.



Wow. That is beautiful. Even the architecture itself is stunning.

Ow that's great... and the door's pictures is so amazing

i am feel free to share some pictures of magical doors which is held on Sonargaon Bangladesh.. i hope you like it.


Wow I am stunned. How beautiful.


thank you so much... @jeanwandimi

Admirable work.... Nice photography and very well briefed.... You can find some beautiful gates here at Lahore too.... Iconic history of mughal empires


Those are beautiful. I hope to visit one day.


Most welcome

great capture

Thanks for these beautiful photos, it's great to see posts like this celebrating the culture of less well known parts of the world, particularly Africa!

Interesting place!!

Amazing! Thanks for this post)

wow amazing doors looks soo beautriful

beautiful doors, beautiful lady


Your photos capture the tiered architecture found across Zanzibar....Arab, Indian, Swahili and European. We recommend a travel diary app called Esplorio. It's a great way to document a journey.


I need to check that out. Seems they do not have an android app?

nice place

There are so many doors to open. A very little key will open a very heavy door. A little "thank you" that you will say to someone for a "little favour" shown to you is a key to unlock the doors that hide unseen "greater favours". There is so many things you can do with the doors, you can open, close, knock, break...I think if you are curious, you create opportunities, and then if you open the doors, you create possibilities. And then there is this one most important door, Door to Heaven!


I love how you interpret the door past what we just see. And I agree with it.


Great words. I am highly inspired



Right? haha!

Very cool article! I never really put much thought into doors or so remembering seeing any quite like these? Haven’t really travelled much to see anything like this. I must keep my eye open while travelling around my own province of Nova Scotia❤️


I am glad now you will now be on the lookout for such beautiful sights. Greetings from Kenya!

The workmanship on the doors is remarkable both technically and artistically. The gates are two varieties of hint (gujarati) and arabic doors. The brass buttons on the doors come from Indian culture. The brass buttons were made to keep the streets from entering the streets, but this Hindu believes that the Stone Town people have accepted this belief because they use it more for wealth and decoration purposes. The number of gates in the 1980s was 800 while the number of gates coming from abroad and the number of gates due to theft I have heard that it has decreased considerably. I'm not sure how much is right. ! I like your writing very much. a wonderful travel post and very successful photos! Thank you.. Steemitte is a new count and I have a promotional post on my page. maybe your interest is attracted :)


Thank you so much for your thoughtful post and additional points. I need to ask a bit about the theft part but I heard that the teak wood was on demand so they had to substitute. But I realized that the doors are very tightly screwed to the hinges and there is so much security.

very informative ... nice culture

So Happy I caught your post, I am obsessed with Zanzibar. I have a friend from Tanzania and would love to experience the island with her one day, it's magical and the beauty you have portrayed in your photographs just proves me right.


So i was just scrolling down the comments and BAAÀM!, i happen to be the Tanzania friend. Yes pls to back packing in Zanzibar.


Yes girl you’re the friend, we’ve Gota go to Zanzibar we’ve spoken about it.

Wow, could never image a post could be so intresting about doors! Hahah, amazing to see how much there is to learn and what kind of history their is behind everything! Even doors.


I am glad you found some value from the post. Now I will never look at dorrs the same. :)

wow this is amazing Your pictures can be so euphoric that they speak awesome


I am glad. Hope you visit soon.

Thank you for this. What a nice treat. Hope you enjoy your weekend.

Good pos .good luck bro

I like your writing very much. a wonderful travel post and very successful photos! Thank you.


I am glad you like it.

The design are cool

Awesome!!! Outstanding!

amazing blog, keep it up was very interesting, check my blog as i have pictures from the british museum showing pieces from africa, I think you'll enjoy it

I just love the design & detail of the Arab doors, it gives me a feeling of anachronistic nostalgia

Amazing...The way you share your views about this place using picture is awesome....And a informative post as well.....Really a stunning post


I am glad you liked it. Thanks.

Nice post thanks for sharing

Wow, the doors tho'. Thanks for the update sir

Amazing. At least I can see them on :)

Your article was very enlightening. I've seen in some documentaries where in some dynasties, elephants were used in war. Maybe that's why some doors were to keep the elephants out. I do believe that the doors tell a story that should be seen. I loved your article.

Zanzibar ... Golden City

Upvoted you for such a wonderful post...I am new here but hope to write such content in coming months ...thanks for sharing...I wonder if I can also write something beautiful only about explaining the have justified the article...hats off... cheers


Thanks. Glad you liked it.

Amazing Pictures. Have a great day if you are reading this.

excileant photography

Loved the presentation of the culture and style of architecture , really well done and great photos , thank you for that and be sure to check my blog also have some decent pictures ty !!!


Thanks for stopping by. Will do :)

Thank you sir keep posting on steem thank you

I wonder if that doors also have their own doorbell?

I imagine that Freddie Mercury (Queen's singer) had passed through those parts during his time in Zanzibar.

Good story..very nice shot...

Natural Beauty of Bangladesh

please take a look at my photography also @adsactly

Wow! I never thought that there is this kind of awesome culture, Truly there is really something very special with these doors, extra ordinary, very fine work of art. Thanks for sharing.

Really very beautiful and worked this door. It would be nice to be able to see it in reality. Once they had really good craftsmen. There are magnificent works in the world, unknown to most of the world.

This post is beautiful!
Thank you for sharing.

When we forget where we came from or our history from the past, we get lost and put aside our path that took us to where we are, I think in this way because it is the only way I see that they respect both their legacy represented by doors


Nice way to look at it. Agreed.

Interesting!.. i got surprised when i saw they cant even change doors without informing authorities... wow! Thats huge emphasis on a "door " buy yet, its not just a door...
Nice write-up. Very interesting!


Yes that is so true. the story is also the same for the walls and the buildings too.The town needs to hold its old appeal.

Never knew the story about the big doors, I only know what happens behind doors ;-)


Nice boss

Great post here @AdSactly, your diligence in explaining the door is commendable. I love aesthetics like this one.

The door are very beautiful, hmm so did elephant actually attack human being at home in early day. @Indian door.


We still need to research on this. But I think that was the reason for the Indian Knobs.


I love your post... amazing post, it's interesting!

Great doors@adsactly. Based from what I've read from your article, permit is required for any door renovation or modification, that is so interesting! history of these doors took me back to the 18th century. Nice one my friend. I followed you already and looking forward of seeing more of you magnificent posts. Thank you for sharing! Have a good one :)


That is such a nice initiative from the government & UNESCO. Thanks.


I am learning a lot from you. Thank you for being such a hero in this platform. Looking forward for your future articles.

beautiful images!

interesting!! All doors were looking awesome but i liked the black one because black colour is my favorite.
Thanks for sharing such beautiful info

Thanks for enlightening us
I dont have any idea about this before and one thing about steemit is great exposure
Steem on!

Wow each door truly is a work of art. I loved to watch the photos of this post and I would love to go to Zanzibar some time. Thank you for sharing :)


I really hope you visit and you get to experience that beauty.

Good work and nice explanation dude! keep up!

Good post, any wood can be made door ....

amazing article...these doors are just awesome.

you are great post are right say Make sure to carry a small door with you when you visit to remind you of the beauty of the doors.I've always admired workmanship, but the significant thought and reason behind the door design has never struck me beyond the esthetic. Nice photos


It's nice that you got some more info and value. I actually have a fridge magnet with one of the little cute doors.

As you rightly said, who would have thought doors would be a thing of interest? These pictures you have taken would make one actually pick up interest on doors especially in this particular part of the world. Nice pictures mate


I am glad you will never look at a door the same way.

That was amizing ! Welcome to Zanzibar!

Buen post

nice pictures! Some of this doors look really impressive and the story behind it is amazing!
thank you for sharing and enjoy your future trips
upvoted & resteemed :)

Wao so nice post keep it up

Wow! Amazing post and a lot of learning. Each door is unique... I can not imagine the story behind each of them.

Wow! Wish I could travel and see something interesting with a story like that. Very nice photography and an ideal content too. 🙌🏻

Nice post...follow me

I see the design of every door in your post has the value of architectural gotic, this architecture is related to the religion and culture of the people of Africa. they are very skilled at carving the door, this is an amazing wood carving.


Exactly. There are also some Arabic and Indian influences since Zanzibar was a trading area and merchants would stop there.

Hello Every One ?anybody help me ?? how to transfer steem dollar in local bank account ?

Architect is just amazing
A bright mind of this generation that conceived this beautiful antique door.

nice one

because teak hard to find, because long enough big teak if planted so everyone more easily found mahogany wood

Nice 😍

Brings back a lot of memories, thanks for that.

aweeesome stuff i wana be there


I learnt something nee from this post again today. Thanks for the enlightenment @adsactly