Tanzania’s commercial center and one of the busiest ports in East Africa, Dar es Salaam is full of life and vigor. That said, the city’s laid-back demeanor and tranquility are befitting of its name that translates to “haven of peace” in Arabic. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the African subcontinent, largely because of its eclectic vibes and picturesque seaside setting. Though there are not many “typically touristy” destinations in this former fishing village, it’s inspiring mix of Indian, African, and Arabic cultures is enough to attract tourists from far corners of the Earth. In this blog post, we have listed some of the top tourist attractions that you can explore in Dar es Salaam. Take a look.
St. Joseph Cathedral
Built by German missionaries, between the years 1897 and 1902, this exemplary Gothic-style Roman Catholic church is the most dominating piece of history donning the harbor front. That said, it is the seat of the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam. Some of the most striking features of this 19th-century cathedral include a shingled spire, stained-glass windows, and vaulted interiors. Likewise, the cathedral also contains a number of its original German artwork and inscriptions including a carved relief above the altar.
In the north of the city center, at a distance of approximately 10 kilometers, lies the quaint village museum. This important piece of architecture features a number of traditional dwellings from more than 120 ethnic groups in Tanzania. In this unique museum scattered across 15 acres, you get a chance to learn about the traditional customs and crafts by browsing through life-size replicas of the tribal homesteads. The village museum also features crowd-pleasers such as Ngoma and various tribal dances.
National Museum & House of Culture
While the museum was originally conceived as a memorial to King George V in the year 1940, it is now regarded as one of the most prominent insights into the colorful past of Tanzania. The National Museum & House of Culture also displays fossils remains of some of our earliest ancestors excavated during the Leakey digs at Olduvai Gorge. Here, you can also learn about the country’s tribal heritage and the impact of the colonial periods and slave trade. There are other highlights here including the ethnographic displays on traditional crafts, ornaments, customs, musical instruments and a small collection of vintage cars (you can also view the former president, Julius Nyerere’s prized Rolls Royce)
Azania Front Lutheran Church
In 1898, a group of German missionaries originally built the Azania Front Lutheran Church. You can easily identify the iconic church because of the red-tile belfry that rises above the nearby rooftops. That said, this whitewashed building is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dar es Salaam. While the tiled canopies in the church provide much-needed shade and respite to weary tourists, the gardens are a welcome retreat for everyone.
This stately manor, built in the late 1890s, was originally the residence of the German Governor. In 1922, however, the British rebuilt the State House after it was nearly destroyed in the World War 1. Subsequently, they added the characteristic crenelated parapet and scalloped upper-story arches to the structure. Currently, the State House is the home of the current president and one of the most picturesque landmarks along the harbor front.
The iconic Askari monument depicts a World War 1 soldier, cast in bronze, in complete uniform. Likewise, the bayonet of this statue points towards the nearby harbor. The monument commemorates the sacrifice of the African troops who fought in World War 1 as the Carrier Corps. Another remarkable aspect of this majestic piece of sculpture is the inscription written by the famous British writer and poet (in both English and Swahili)
(All photographs are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated)