Famous Sights

Kaole ruins

Copyright: Rudolf Blauth
Kaole ruins

The oldest ruins of an Islamic mosque in the region, stemming from the 13th or 14th century, are a few km south of Bagamoyo near Kaole - possibly the oldest mosque on mainland of East Africa at all.

The first settlers came from the Persian town Shiraz. This town was attacked in 1256 by the Mongoles who did not occupy but who ruled Shiraz up to 1352. Reasons enough for inhabitants to flee.

On the cemetery near to the nothern mosque you can see one Pillar tomb, probably 13th or 14th century with a badly erased epitaph and an inscription on the side. There is another tomb with an epitaph with a Quoran text from Suria II and the Throne Verse, probably 14th century, on stylistic grounds.

The northern mosque has an external staircase, which enabled the Muezin to call for prayers from the roof. Such an external staircase has only one old mosque in Kilwa. Only in East Africa Muslim cemeteries are adjacent to a mosque. Near the northern mosque you can find 22 tombs, eight with pillars, the others without pillars. Those with pillars seem to be the older ones. The others date back to the 18th century. The pillars were decorated with Chinese percellain which is in the National Museum in Dar es Salaam now.  

According to local tradition Shaykh Ally bin Tumo is burried in one of the pillar tombs, in the so-called "Love Grave" (both arabs died when their ship got shipwrecked between Zanzibar and Kaole on the ocean) or in the "Holy Grave", the one with a pyramidial roof.

Near the mosque fundaments of a stone house have been excavated. Chinese porcellain, beads and other materials, found in the fill, indicate that the house was used from the 15th to the 16th century.

The southern mosque is of a younger date, according to the used building materials.

FRELIMO-Headquarter Bagamoyo: The birth of free Mozambique

Former Frelimo Headquarter

Between Kaole ruins and Bagamoyo you pass a private Secondary School using historic buildings of former FRELIMO-Headquarter Bagamoyo. From here later president Samora Machel has organized resistance movement and liberation of independent Mozambique against Portuguese colonialism.

Every year an official delegation from Mozambique visits this place.

Bagamoyo College of Arts/TASUBA

Copyright: Peter Harke
Bagamoyo Players

After the independence of Tanzania in 1980 the new Ministry of Culture founded Bagamoyo College of Arts. The college is not only supposed to teach young talents, but also to research and to perform. Bagamoyo College of Arts/TASUBA is also home to the famous Bagamoyo Players, national ensemble of Tanzania.

From time to time there are public performances in the college theater. No special performances for tourists. International Bagamoyo Arts Festival in September/October.

More informations about Bagamoyo College of Arts and Bagamoyo Players

Makaburini Mwana Makuka Cemetery

The Makaburini Mwana Makuka Cemetery is located south of the Old Bagamoyo Fort on a small hill, around 200 m from the beach of the Indian Ocean between the German graveyard and Mwanamakuka Primary School Bagamoyo in front of the Bagamoyo College of Arts. The three borders are marked with lines of trees. It is the oldest cemetery of Bagamoyo.

There are 35 tombs. The biggest tomb has walls outside, surrounding the grave inside. It is said to be the tomb of Mwana Makuka from Tabora area who settled in the early Bagamoyo. If it is like this we have the indication that also wealthy Africans were among the first settlers in Bagamoyo. The only legible dates are read as A.H. 1208 (= 1793/94 n.Chr.) and A.H. 1228 (= 1813 n.Chr.).

The covered tombs could be graves of holy or important persons.

German Colonial Cemetery

Copyright: Rudolf Blauth
German Colonial Cemetery

In this cemetery - which was restored with the help of the German embassy and Germans who still live in Bagamoyo - you can mainly find the burial places of the German soldiers of the Wissmann troops.

Copyright: Peter Harke
German tomb

In the cemetery there are 20 tombs: 18 tombs of German soldiers, one tomb of Antonie Baeumler (a German nurse who died 24/09/1889) and one tomb of Gretel Schuller who died six days after birth. Schuller was, according to August Leue, the representative of the "German East African Society" (DOAG) in Bagamoyo.

The cemetery was used from 1889-1894.

Among the "killed during fightings" we counted also Antonie Baeumler. She might have been on the battle field to take care of wounded soldiers. It seems that after 1890 we had no fightings around Bagamoyo any more.

One tomb, outside the German graves, is the grave of the British Districts Commissionar Hon. William Bamphile who died in 1939.


Bushiri rebellion
Bushiri rebellion

On the compound of Badeco Beach Hotel we find a monument, reminding freedom fighters who were hanged to death by the Germans during German colonialism.

According to all available sources here supporters of Bushiri were hanged in December 1889, after Bushiri himself was hanged to death on the 12/15/1889 in Pangani. 

Bushiri-supporters in Bagamoyo were Simba Mbili, Marera, Mbomboma, Kriolhe, Salim bin Abdalla, Pori and Kisoko.

An old German photograph shows gallows near to the Old Fort with one hanged person. In the background behind trees the Old Fort can be seen.

We did not know if the present monument stands exactly on the place where we had the gallows. And it also seems not be really true what the present inscription tells which was written during the Anti-Colonial time.

The Hanging Place is a national memorial today.

Old Fort

Copyright: Rudolf Blauth
Old Fort

Fortified Arab building from the year 1856, now the oldest house in Bagamoyo.

Built by Abdallah S. Marhabi (one of the first Persian Shomvi Shirazi who founded Bagamoyo around 1793?), it was taken over by Sultan Majid, the Lord of Oman and Zanzibar, who added to it and fortified it some more to house Baluchi garrison troops. 

The tradesman Seva Haji bought the fort in the year of 1890 and donates it to the Germans on 28/12/1894 with the obligation to establish a school in the building. The German used the Fort as a garrison and fortified the building.

After World War I it was used as a prison by the British.

After Indepedence until 1992, the fort was used as a police station and prison. The fort can be visited. It was restored by EU funds.  

The Liku-House

The year when the house was built is not known. It was bulit by an Asian merchant and sold by Ratu Bhimji to the German administrations. The Germans used the house as administrative offices and residences.

The Liku-House was located at former "Kaiser Strasse", near to the public garden.

Here the famous German explorer Emin Pasha fell down out of a window from the 1st floor.

Today used as offices of the District Commissioner.


Copyright: Rudolf Blauth

One of the most important historical buildings of East-Africa. Built in 1895-1897 as residence and offices for the German colonial governor. Used since December 1897.

Located in former "Kaiser Strasse" and between "Kaiser Strasse" and "Gravenreuther Strasse". 200 m west from the shore. 42 m long and 33 m wide. Two-storey building with two towers on the front side. Built with bricks, roofed with iron sheets. Ground floor: Meeting hall, 6 offices with 2 safes, 1 kitchen, 6 store rooms, 2 residence rooms, 1 toilet. Upper floor: Kitchen, 10 rooms, 1 hall, 2 toilets. Under the roof: water store tank for the water pipes.

An old German photograph shows that the building had a pointed roof which the British changed to a plain roof.

In 1998 the roof collapsed and pulled the balcony down during the El Nino rains. The building is up to now fascinating but highly in danger. In 2009 the government of Tanzania started to renovate the building.  

The Wissmann Monument


The monument, which is now dismantled, was erected in front of the Boma on a bastion towards the Public Garden, in commemoration of the German soldiers, killed in the fightings with Arabs and Africans. Official opening: 21/12/1894. It means the monument was erected before the Boma was built.

The monument was demolished by the British in the late 1940s. The bronze plaques of the monument were re-set in the wall of the bastion, but are now removed to the National Museum in Dar es Salaam. 

The Public Garden

There was a public garden from the Boma to the beach (200 m) with a pavillon, sport grounds and flower arrangements.

The Old Arab Tea House

Copyright: Rudolf Blauth
Old Arab Tea House before renovation

Built by a Goan merchant as a general store, with a hotel in the first floor.

If the house was built by Abdallah Selimani Marhabi, it is one of the oldest houses in Bagamoyo, dating back to the time when Bagamoyo was started at around 1800 or before,

Enlarged by the Germans and British and used as administrative offices. An old German photograph of about 1905 shows the house as Arab Tea House with people sitting in front and enjoying tea or coffee.

A document from 1912/13 indicates the building as "Hospital in India Street" and gives the following information: The hospital, overlooking the beach, is 35 m long, 18 m wide. The main building: Secretariate, pharmacy, room for sick Indians, room for examinations of females, store room, toxin-room. First floor: Kitchen for the medical orderlies, kitchen for Europeans. Annex building: Kitchen for the medical orderlies, kitchen for natives, two huts for native patients, stall for animals for medical tests. The annex buildings were dismantled when the two wings were added to the main building in 1913. An old German photograph of 1914 names the building: "Hospital in Bagamoyo".

Under the Birtish the house was used as "Native School", later as bank (ground floor) and offices (first floor). Then used as offices of the Department for Education and the Department of National resources.  

In 2009/10 the Swedish Development Service (Sida)  has restored the building for the new local government of Bagamoyo.

Historic German "Kaiser Strasse" / India Street

Copyright: Peter Harke
Historic old German "Kaiser Strasse"

The long street between Old Fort, Boma and Old German School (Mwambao School) is the historic German "Kaiser Strasse" (now: India Street), renovated in 2006 (financed by Swedish Government).

Old Post Office: The first Post and Telegraph Office in East Africa

Copyright: Peter Harke
Old Post Office (left) before renovation

Along historic former "Kaiser Strasse" (India Street) you can find several old historical Arab or German houses: Ware houses and private houses.

Located at the corner India Street/Customs Street: Old Post Office. Built by Sewa Haji and bequeathed by him in his last will 1896 to the German Government.

This building was the first Post and Telegraph Office in East Africa. 

In 2009 Millenium Hotel Group has renovated the building für "Millenium Old Post Office Hotel".

The Nasser Virji House

Owned by Nasser Virji Muraji Haji (1865-1942), who belonged to the Muslim Ithnaasharia Community. In 1888 he opened a business in Bagamoyo. Soon he accumulated land around Bagamoyo. In 1914 he had 72 branches of his business agency, spread all over Tanganyika. He left Bagamoyo when the economy collapsed.

The Nasser Virji House was rehabilitated in 2000 by Swedish development service (Sida).

Jama at-Khana

Built during the time of the Germans, used as a mosque.

The Building was the religious and social centre of the Muslim Khoja Ismaeli (1870: 137 members) to which Sewa Haji was belonging, too.

In 1899 Aga Khan III selected Bagamoyo as his initial stop-over of his visit to the East African mainland. He was the most prominent visitor to the Jama at-Khana. 

Behind the building at the beach you can find about 150 old tombs of the Ismaili Cemetery.

Old Suaheli wooden doors

These world famous doors - dozens of marvellously renovated ones can be seen in Zanzibar's Stonetown - are unfortunately only very scarce in Bagamoyo, and those that can be found are in very bad condition.

The Customs House

Copyright: Rudolf Blauth
The Customs House

The old Arab Customs House was transported to Saadani in 1895 and the new one was built, double-towered at both ends. We can presume that at this place the old Arab Customs House was standing and the main harbour located. The great explorer Richard Burton made a special note of the capable Indian Ramjee who was the chief of the Old Customs house in 1857.

If we had here the old harbour where up to now the ships lay on anchor, then we have there the place where the slaves were herded on the Dhows.

An old photgraph of about 1905 in The Catholic Museum shows that the building had two towers. The whole structure was surounded by a high wall. The inner yard was roofed. A stone way was built into the hall for loading and unloading of the ships.

Even today the northern house is used as custom office and residence. The southern house collapsed. The pillars, facing the beach, are also collapsing.

Bagamoyo Dhow Shipyard

Copyright: Rudolf Blauth
Dhow Shipyard Bagamoyo

Between Badeco Beach Hotel and the fishmarket you can find one of the last traditional Dhow Shipyards.

The Usagara House

The historic Usagara House

The information "German Store House" is not correct. The building, next to the Customs House, was built by the German Usagara Company in 1889.

The Usagara House was used by the representative of the German East African Society, merchant Schuller and his family (Gretel Schuller rests in the German Cemetery). The residence was the meeting place of the Germans.

The house now is dismantled. Or did it collapse? According to an old photograph of about 1905 the house was a frame-work-construction, built on pillars on a strong concrete foundation which still can be seen. The pillars had cups, filled with kerosine to prevent rats climbing up. The building was a double-storey building with a balcony on the first floor.

Fish market

After the return of the fishing boats many of the townspeople gather at the fish market, where the fish are not only cooked and eaten, but also auctioned off. Attention! Caution advised!

Dhow Harbour

Copyright: Peter Harke

Several dozen old, traditional Dhows lie at anchor here, mostly used as fishing boats today.

The Old Market

Copyright: Peter Harke
Old Market

Built in 1898 by the German administration on a place where former an older market has existed.

Local tradition tell that here slave auctions took place "under the tree" and that an underground tunnel went from here to the beach which the slaves had to pass blindfolded.

The Germans built the market in 1898 with 9.000 Rupees, but got already 3.000-4.000 Rupees income in 1900.

Mwambao Primary School (Old German School): One of the first schools in East Africa

Historical Photo
Historical German School
Copyright: Peter Harke
Mwambao School before renovation
Copyright: Peter Harke
After renovation (click to enlarge: opening ceremony)

Sewa Haji donated the school to the German Colonial Government in 1896. He made it a condition that the Germans should found a school for African, Indian and German pupils (in different classes).

The old German School was one of the first schools in East Africa.

Until May 2006 it was under extremly bad condition. In the second half of 2006 German partnerschool "Marienschule Ahlen" and Bagamoyo Friendship Society/Germany renovated the school completly - supported by many private German sponsors and supported by the Federal Republic of Germany.

Mwambao Primary School has about 800 pupils, more than 350 pupils have no parents. There is also one class with handicapped pupils.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete himself was a pupil of Mwambao School.

German Block House

Built in 1889 during the Bushiri War in order of Major Wissmann to guard the western approach to the town. Wissmann had built 5 such defense towers protecting all the entrances to Bagamoyo. On the east side of the block hause you can see the tomb of the former slave Mama Ngonera who lived in that house.

The Caravan Serai

Historical Caracan Serai

Bagamoyo became the main caravan entreport in the early 19th century. Wanyamwezi people reached the coast at about 1800. By 1850 the east African trade network with Bagamoyo as an important transit town was well established.

The Caravan Serai was built before the time of the Germans as an assembly point for arriving and departing caravans from and into the interior. Around the Caravan Serai was a large fenced area for animals and temporary buildings for porters.

During the slave period the Caravan Serai was the main slave camp of Bagamoyo. An old town map in the Catholic Museum of 1874/75 indicates in the West of the Caravan serai a special "camp for slaves".

During the German colonialism Caravan Serai belonged to the German East African Society and was built outside of town in the 1870s. In it's centre it had a double-storey building for keeping ivory and other precious cargo and rooms for the porters along the inside wall.

All of the famous European "explorers" (Livingstone, Burton, Speke, Grant etc.) passed Bagamoyo - coming from Zanzibar on their way to Central-Africa.

Today the Caravan Serai is rehabilitated by the Swedish Development Service (Sida) and became the Tourists Information Centre of Bagamoyo. There is also the headquarter of Bagamoyo Department of Antiquities.

Bagamoyo District Hospital

Copyright: Rudolf Blauth
Bagamoyo District Hospital

In 1886 the Indian merchant Sewa Haji offered land and money to the Missionaries for a new hospital in the town. The laying of the foundation stone was done March 25, 1891, in the present of the German Governor Wissmann.

In 1912 the German administration took over the hospital which is still a Government Hospital with more than 100 beds. It is the only hospital in the Bagamoyo District which has the large of the state of Lebanon. It is the hospital of the poor people of Bagamoyo.

Since many years Bagamoyo Friendship Society/Germany supports Bagamoyo District Hospital and has renovated the big hospital completly (water and waste water system, several stations, operating theatre, roofs, all toilets and showers, new bridge, building of new maternity ward etc.

In 2006 Bagamoyo Friendship Society/Germany renovated roof of old German colonial main building.

Catholic Mission: The oldest Mission in East and Central Africa

Copyright: Rudolf Blauth
Catholic Mission Bagamoyo

The Catholic Mission is the oldest Catholic mission in East and Central Africa, dating from 1868.

You also can find on the Parish Compound:

The Old Baobab Tree:
Planted in 1868.

The Tower of the First Catholic Church (Livingstone Tower):
Built in 1872, the church was later dismantled. The body of the late Dr. David Livingstone rested here for one night from the 24th to the 25th of February 1874 before being transported via Zanzibar to Westminster London.

The Old Fathers House:
The headquarter of the Spiritan Missionaries. The ground floor was built in 1873, the first floor in 1877-1880, the second floor in 1903-1904. The Mission was staffed every time with 8-10 missionaries. Up to 1969, when the St. Peters Seminary was moved to Morogoro. The front of the builidung collapsed in 2009.

The Sisters Convent:
Built in 1876, the first storey in 1877. The veranda was added in 1915. The Sisters House was always staffed with 6-8 Sisters, up to the 1980s. In 1969 the museum was established in that building when the Sisters got a new house.
The renovation some years ago was financed by the Federal Republic of Germany.

The Cemetery:
27 tombs of the early Spiritan missionaries and 20 tombs of the early Sisters (Congregation "Daughters of Mary"). The first to be buried here was St. M. Julienne (17/04/1870).

The Grotto:
Built in 1876, special blessings by Pope Leo XIII in 1879. Since 1999 National Pilgrimage Shrine by the Tanzanian Episcopal Conference.

The Parish Church:
Built 1910-1915. With interesting paintings about history of slavery.

Catholic Museum of Bagamoyo

Copyright: Rudolf Blauth
Catholic Museum

The museum, completly renovated some years ago (financed by the Federal Republic of Germany) can be found inside the Catholic Mission in the north of Bagamoyo. 

You can find all interesting information about the history of Bagamoyo, the history of slavery and German Colonialism, the history of catholic missions in East Africa etc.

The main attraction is the German letter of liberation of the last slave.

And the museum is the "headquarter" of historical research of German Father John Henschel who has written several booklets about history of Bagamoyo.

Christian Cross of Bagamoyo

Follow the street from the Mission to the beach and you will see the large Christian Cross at the beach. It is the cross to remember first missionars who arrived here about 150 years ago.

Nunge Salt Fields

Copyright: Peter Harke
Bagamoyo Salt Fields

Nunge is an active salt production place two km north of Bagamoyo.

Bagamoyos early prosperity was based upon a trade consisting primarly on sun-dried fish, copal and salt.

Nunge was producing substantial quantities of salt, already in the first half of the 19th century.

In Mkandini, near to Nunge, Sassania-Islamic pottery was found, dating back to the 9th century. Salt production is a very ancient enterprise.

Father John Henschel

Research and most informations from Father John Henschel (prize winner "Zeze Award" Tanzania) 

Interesting Literature:

Felix Ndunguru, William Lucas Kadelya, John Henschel,
"Bagamoyo: The Beauty at the Beach - A pictorial portrait"
Catholic Museum, Bagamoyo, 2002
10 p.