Beit el Mtoni literally means The Palace by the stream. The palace owes this name to its beautiful location on the western shore of Zanzibar. It is one of the oldest buildings of Zanzibar and it was the largest palace on the island during the reign of Sultan Sayyid Said, who moved the capital of his Omani empire from Muscat to Zanzibar during the first half of the 19th century. At that time, over a thousand people lived in the palace and its direct surroundings. But around the 1880s the palace was abandoned and fell into ruin.
Although severely deteriorated, Mtoni Palace still offers visitors a glimpse into the world of the Arabian royalty once living there.
Entering the palace from the coast line, one steps into the former reception hall. Most guests would not go any further when visiting Beit el Mtoni, since the women in the palace were not to be seen by stranger’s eyes. But now, visitors can step over the threshold and walk in the footsteps of the Omani household. A visit continues into the inner courtyard, the palace garden and the well preserved bathing complex. One row of baths was used by the courtiers, whereas a separate domed aisle was uniquely reserved for the use of the Sultan and his first spouse.
One of the most famous inhabitants of Zanzibar was SayyidaSalme. Beit el Mtoni is strongly connected with her story, since it is the place where she was born. Salme, one of the many daughters of Sultan Said, became world famous as Emily Ruete, the Arabian princess who fell in love with the German merchant Rudolph Heinrich Ruete. The couple eloped to Hamburg, which meant that Salme had to say farewell to Zanzibar. In her beautiful book ‘Memoirs of an Arabian Princess’ Salme, or Emily as she was called later after being baptized a Christian, wrote down her memories of the bustling Mtoni Palace during her youth, and the decay she encountered many years later, when she returned to Zanzibar one last time.
Mtoni Palace is one of the main Omani palaces of the island. A combined visit to Beit el Mtoni, Beit el Sahel (now the Palace Museum) Beit al-Ajaib (the House of Wonders) and Maruhubi Palace is highly recommended to acquire a complete image of the Omani history of Zanzibar.
Considering the high level of decay in some parts of the palace, restoration activities have taken place to warrant the safety of visitors. However, during these activities all original details have been safeguarded, so the authenticity of the palace has remained intact.
CONCERT & DINNER
The Concert & Dinner at Mtoni Palace, happens every Tuesday and Friday evening. The evening starts with a guided tour around the Palace, followed by a concert of traditional melodies and dances, whilst candles and incense are re-creating the magical atmosphere of 1001 Nights and during the interlude a grilled Zanzibarian buffet will delight the appetite.
In an effort to raise funds, the Taarab Dance and Music Concert every Tuesdays and Fridays is open to all for a nominal fee.
The evening starts with a guided tour around the palace at 6.00pm and is followed by a concert of soothing melodies which are played by the professional and traditional Taarab singers makes the stage come alive. The dances, candles and incense create the magical feeling of 1001 nights.
The atmosphere is full of enchantment and anticipation. Our guests then enjoy a traditional Zanzibari cuisine infused with Indian spices, a feast that our Mtoni Marine Staff generously prepare. Some more entertainment follows after the delicious dinner. Guests are welcome to dance and join in the fun!
Zanzibar is known for its ancient history and exotic hotels. Our stay at Mtoni Marine Hotel ensured that we got to experience a bit of both. For a holiday or weekend getaway, the island of Zanzibar should be at the top of your list for that unforgettable holiday experience.