From the 13th to the 16th century the small islands of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara were central to the Indian Ocean trade and the Coastal Swahili Culture. The two ports were the conduit for trade in ivory, gold, timber, porcelain, pearls, jewelry and clothes.

For some time Kilwa was a prominent port for the Indian Ocean Slave Trade with more than 20 000 african slaves passing thorugh the port every year. The islands were prominent in the Islamisation of East Africa. Kilwa Kisiwani, described by the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta who wrote “The city of Kilwa is amongst the most beautiful of cities and elegantly built.”.

The Great Mosque of Kilwa Kisiwani, with its 16 domed and vaulted bays is the oldest standing mosque on the East African coast. Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara are a UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Zamani Project spatially documented Kilwa Kisiwani during 4 field campaigns between 2005-2009. The structures documented include: the Gereza (prison); the Great Mosque; the Husuni Kubwa; the Makutani Building and the Malindi Mosque.

Similar sites (Mosques):
Gede Mosque (Gede, Kenya), Shela Mosque (Shela/lamu, Kenya), Djenné Mosque (Djenné, Mali), Djingereyber Mosque (Timbuktu, Mali), Songo Mnara Mosque (Songo Mnara, Tanzania) 


> Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
> Rice University
> University of York
> partially funded by World Moument Found (WMF)

Collaborators / Partners 

> Stephanie Wynne-Jones (University of York)
> Jeff Fleisher (Rice University)
> World Moument Found (WMF)

3D model of The Gereza Fort

The Gereza Fort is thought to be an Omani structure built on the
site of a Portuguese fort. The name is derived from "igreja", Portuguese for church. "Gereza" became the Swahili word for "prison".

3D model of the
Great Mosque of Kilwa

The Great Mosque of Kilwa is the earliest remaining mosque structure on the East African coast, though it is predated by elements from the Kizimkazi Mosque in Zanzibar. The Great Mosque, which now stands at the edge of modern Kilwa, was built in at least two distinct stages, which can be seen in the marked difference between the small northern prayer hall built in the eleventh and twelfth centuries and the subsequent fourteenth century southern enlargement. 

The 3D model of small Domed Mosque

To the southwest of the Great Mosque of Kilwa was the nine bay Small Domed Mosque, which was built in the mid-fifteenth century and is now only partially standing.

Though built two-hundred years later, the Small Domed Mosque mimics the Great Mosque's thirteenth century vault and dome addition. (source:  

3D model of the Makunati Palace

The Makutani building is a fortified enclosure in Kilwa Kisiwani, containing the sultan’s palace, dating from the 18th century AD.

Panorama Tour

The Panorama Tour of Kilwa

Full dome panoramas capture a full 360-degree view from a single position. Individual full dome panoramas can be merged into a panorama tour, which allows a user to freely move from one panorama position to another.

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