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“Hassle-Free Shopping”

Cultural Heritage Centre
Ranked #3 of 60 things to do in Arusha
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Cultural Heritage Centre established in the year 1994. Is the first of its kind in Africa dedicated towards exploring the rich treasures derived from African Culture. This family business is the result of culmination of hard work, unwavering dedication and knowledge acquired from the forefathers. At the helm of the affairs is the versatile managing director, Mr. Saifuddin Khanbhai, who has a solid knowledge of African Culture and traditions. Culture Heritage Center has acquired iconic status due to the unique structure of the buildings within its compound and having the treasure chest of African art which is keeping African Art alive. The main building is designed to resemble the Uhuru Peak of Kilimanjaro. It also has an impressive array of arts and crafts including unique masks, Verdite carvings and paintings by famous African sculptures. Cultural Heritage now boasts an impressible Art Gallery was build on his vision which was to promote the work of the local artists. The exterior of the Gallery is imp rived by a drum, shield and spear, all major African symbols. The symbols resonate with the role of the Gallery that is to represent, communicate and celebrate Africa's Cultural Heritage. Among its many world famous pieces of Art is a 18 feet family tree which took 20 years to make. People from all over the world also visit Cultural Heritage, for its unrivaled reputation of having the finest Tanzanite stones which are also found in the Mererani hills of Tanzania, best in the world. The interior has three areas (i) History, (ii) Wildlife and (iii) soul. Ethnographic artifacts fill the History area, the wildlife area consists of contemporary paintings and sculptures of the curvatures roaming the African Savanna and the soul area captures Africa's energy allure and essence. The art gallery also has an amphitheatre which often shows on the life of special Tanzanian tribes like the Maasai, Pygmies and Hadzabe. It is also used for conferences. Also offered at the centre are day rooms found on the top of the building. They serve as resting place in the calm environment after a long safari trp. The spa at the Gallery offers a verity of personal care and treatments. The proceeds from the Gallery go to the conservation of elephants in Africa and the main concept of this is anti poaching clearly defined by the sculpture of the large unique beaded elephant. However, other causes such as orphanages, schools and boreholes and well drilling benefit from the proceeds. The centre also has a restaurant, coffee chop, spice centre, beads centre, and flea shop, which offers a variety of artifacts at different prices. Apart from the art the centre vibrated with warm hospitality. Cultural Heritage is visited by tourists from all over the world. It has been honored by visits from distinguished guests and state leaders such as President Bill Clinton, The prince William of Holland and his wife, Former UN secretary Mr. Kofi Annan, and celebrities such as Cindy Crawford. However every visitor who visits Cultural Heritage is treated as a Celebrity.
USA
Level Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Hassle-Free Shopping”
Reviewed July 12, 2012

We visited here twice pre-safari and three times post-safari, so clearly we enjoyed it a lot. The art museum is incredible. Between the stunning architecture and the large collection of African art, it was really interesting. The owner personally gave us a tour of the museum, even though he knew we were not in the market to buy art. He knows each piece of art like it's from his personal collection - he can describe who made it, where it's from, what it's depicting, etc. I would've paid admission to go in this museum.

The buffet lunch was very good with a wide selection. The owner, Saif, said that it was his mother-in-law's place (or maybe his mother's - I'm not positive which). There were also a lot of smaller shops within the shop, and we took our time checking them out.

I read reviews that said they thought the prices here were higher than elsewhere. That was not our experience. In fact, when we went to the Mount Meru Curio Market in Fire, we compared a lot of prices. Our conclusion? The Cultural Heritage Center was competitive in its prices. We did not experience any high pressure sales at the Cultural Heritage Center Actually, the owner, Saif, could not have been nicer and more helpful. In contrast, when we were at the market, there were so many people pulling at us (literally physically pulling at us), calling out to us, and really hard-selling. Yes, I get it - that's Africa; however, it was much more pleasant shopping at the Cultural Heritage Center (or Tanzanite City as my husband has nicknamed it).

Saif is really knowledgeable about tanzanite. Yes, he does pull out a lot of tanzanite to show you if he thinks you're interested in the stone; however, it's a lot of fun, not pressure. He showed us stones that I've never seen before - who knew that tanzanite came in greens and golds? When we were fortunate to visit during a quiet period, he showed us stones that cost far more than my car even AFTER we had already made a purchase of a small stone. He knew I liked the stones, and he was just being nice and letting me have some fun. There was nothing pushy about it. It was incredible to hold in my hands stones that I could never afford.

So, overall, we found the prices competitive, the atmosphere much more pleasant than haggling in the markets (don't even get me started on the chaotic experience that we encountered in some of the smaller villages), and the owner to be a genuinely nice guy.

I'm not sure where to put this in the review, but there are also several CLEAN bathrooms on site.

Visited June 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank TAExplorer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Hilton Head, South Carolina
Level Contributor
236 reviews
50 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 164 helpful votes
“Art Gallery & Shopping!”
Reviewed July 10, 2012

We stopped here our first day in Arusha. As soon as we got there, we were told that there was only a short time until closing, so we basically breezed through just a small part of it.A LOT of stuff...all kinds of African art - modern and old plus lots of souvenirs. I walked by a counter and was approached by a very agressive salesman pulling out tanzanites from excellent quality to stones of very poor quality. Although I was in the market for a tanzanite, I had read that this was not the place to shop and was not impressed with this guy's "used car salesmanship". Really meant to get back before we left Arusha, but time just didn't allow it! Had we had more time in Arusha, I think that we would have made a point go back and check it out!

Visited June 2012
Helpful?
Thank edenl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Level Contributor
198 reviews
59 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 101 helpful votes
“It's really one big art gallery with everything for sale.”
Reviewed July 10, 2012

The building and grounds will get your attention as you drive up, with an interesting building and loads of large animal sculptures and carvings outside. We were surprised to find no entry fee, but quickly realized the Cultural Center is really just a huge, indoor/outdoor art gallery with almost everything for sale. Only the basement of the main building houses many older historical items showcasing the area's history. If you're interested in high-end and pricier Tanzanian art, this is supposedly the largest collection in Tanzania. If you're in the market for day to day local art, crafts and other items to bring home, shop the local markets, particularly the one on Fire Street just off downtown. Much lower prices for authentic local arts and crafts.

Visited July 2012
Helpful?
Thank Brad S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pleasanton, Ca USA
Level Contributor
67 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Museum in Arucha”
Reviewed July 4, 2012

We had a guide drop us off so we could tour this center. So many artifacts to view. Sculptures,and paintings. the outside front lawn had animals of every species done in sculpt metals. Impressive sight when you enter. Along side of museum is a gift shop with so much to see==eye candy==you want one of each.
very enjoyable

Visited April 2012
Helpful?
Thank 7joan7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tucson, Arizona
Level Contributor
30 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Too much to look at”
Reviewed July 2, 2012

While its great to have so many souveniers in one place, it was too much to take in. Also after continuing my travelling - the costs were better with smaller vendors.

Visited June 2012
Helpful?
Thank molly m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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