This mosque is the Sudano Sahelian architectural masterpiece and largest mud structure in the world. Djenne is known to be the oldest city sub Saharan Africa, founded by merchants around AD. The mosque apart from greatest landmark in Africa it is the centre of community of Djenne. Build from local materials like mud and palm tree sticks, expresses its elegant connection to local environment. During middle ages it was one of the most important Islamic study centers in Africa, thousands of students came to study Quran in Djenne’s madrassas. Built in 1907 and designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988 the first mosque at this place was built in 13th century.
Situated on the floodland of Niger and Bani river, 354km southwest of Timbuktu.
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Tarikh Al-sudan is the earliest document is mentioning about this mosque. Although the actual date of first mosque built in the place cannot be traced but it is believed that the 1st mosque was constructed somewhere around 1240 by the Sultan Koi Kunboro who converted to islam and turned his palace into mosque, the second mosque was built around mid 19th century by Sheikh Amadou, the ruler of Djenne in the 19th century.
The present mosque built in 1907 has been designed by Islamia Traor, he was head of Djenne guild of mansons. There is a written information about this place written by French explorer Rene Caillie who has described it as mosque built of earth, rudely constructed and abandoned to swallows, who build their nests in it.
Created in Sudano Sahelian style, the walls this great mosque are made of sun soaked mud bricks and are decorated with bundles of palm sticks called torons. The platform measures 75m × 75m and is built 3m above the market place.
The prayer hall or qibla faces mecca towards the east and is of 26m × 50m, the floor is of sandy earth and the mud covered wooden roof is supported by 9 interior walls.
The mosque has roof vents with ceramic caps and caps are removed in the night to ventilate the place.
Although it incorporates the architectural style used in mosque throughout the Islamic world, it reflects the art and aesthetics of the people of Djenne which has been traditionally followed for centuries.
The entire population of Djenne actively participates in repairing of the mosque which gets eroded because of the annual rainfall through a unique festival which includes music and food. The plaster is prepared in pits, men climb onto the mosque and smear the plaster over the face of the mosque. Womenfolk carry water to the pits and to the men on the mosque during festival time and elderly people sit and watch all the proceedings.
How to reach
Air: Bamako International Airport
Water: River taxis along the Niger river
Rail: Train from Bamako Station
Road: Public buses, shared bus and taxis are available to Djenne.