historical_sites

Kilwa Kisiwani

Kilwa Kisiwani is a community on an island off the coast of East Africa, in present day Tanzania. In the 4th century it was sold to a trader Ali bin Al-Hasan, and over the following centuries it grew to be a major islamic city and trading centre along that coast, and inland as far as Zimbabwe. Trade was mainly in gold and iron from Zimbabwe, ivory from Tanzania, and textiles, jewelry, porcelain, and spices from Asia. It is believed that the ruler was on of the grandson of Athman bin Khatwaab the third khaliphate to the prophet Muhammed. Therefore it was part of the Othoman Empire states.

By the 12th century, under the rule of the Mahdali, Kilwa had become the most powerful city on the East African coast, and its influence stretched as far south as Mozambique. Abu Abdullah Ibn Battuta recorded his visit to the city around 1330, and commented favorably on the humility and religion of its ruler, Sultan al-Hasan ibn Sulaiman. From this period date the construction of the Palace of Husuni Kubwa and a significant extension to the Great Mosque of Kilwa.

In the early 16th century, Vasco da Gama extorted tribute from the wealthy Islamic state, but not soon after, another Portuguese force took control of the island (1505), and it remained in Portuguese hands until 1512, when Muslim again recaptured Kilwa. The city regained its earlier prosperity; Kilwa remains with its islamic rule for another 400 years while in 1784 it came under the rule of the islamic ruler of Zanzibar. The city started loosing its prospeity due to the conquest of Portegese, French and German who finally become part of the colony of German East Africa from 1886 to 1918.

Serious archeological investigation began in the 1950s. In 1981 it was declared a World Heritage Site, and noted visitor sites are the Great Mosque, the Mkutini Palace and some remarkable ruins.

Inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger: 2004. There is a serious rapid deterioration of the archaeological and monumental heritage of these two islands due to various agents like erosion and vegetation. The eastern section of the Palace of Husuni Kubwa is progressively disappearing. The damage to the soil caused by rainwater wash is accentuating the risks of collapse of the remaining structures on the edge of the cliff. The vegetation that proliferates on the cliff has limited the progression of the rain-wash effect, but causes the break-up of the masonry structures. The World Monuments Fund included Kilwa on its 2008 Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites because of the threat of climate change to the site.