A bustling trade port, specializing in the finest - and most lucrative - of goods.
The rise of the Swahili culture between the 11th and 15th centuries was accompanied by an architectural development of using blocks of coral limestone in the coastal cities (bandari). This material, which was a sharp contrast to the perishable resources used for common buildings, was only used in the construction of prestigious monuments symbolizing the durability and longevity of the power of the groups who erected them.
Among these creations were the homes of important merchant families who were responsible for transiting goods from the African continent to the northern and eastern shores of the Indian ocean. Devoted to trade, they included apartments specially designed to accommodate foreign merchants and their merchandise, individuals who would generally stay for several months at a time in the Swahili ports.
The largest of these residences, like the husuni kubwa in Kilwa Kisiwani, were real palaces in which fabrics, ceramics and glassware from Egypt, Persia, India and China were stored.