Young Pioneer Tours

The Great Mosque of Djenne

The Great Mosque of Djenne, sometimes known as the Grand Mosque of Djenne, is the most famous tourist attraction in Mali and probably the most unique mosque in the world. When you consider how many mosques there are, that is quite the statement.

Background to Mali

Nowadays Mali is one of the poorest countries on earth, but it was formerly the mighty Mali Empire. The Mali Empire was a chief exporter of many things, including slaves. It was also home to the legendary “city of riches Timbuktu” from where the idiom “from here to Timbuktu” originates.

Empires famously rise and fall and Mali is a great example of this. It was formerly part of the French Empire, and since gaining independence in 1960, things have been far from smooth.

The central great mosque of Djenne
The Great Mosque of Djenne

Largely forgotten by the outside world, it hit prominence in 2012 when a rebellion by separatists and islamic militants threatened to take down the whole country. It was only then that many people even realized Timbuktu was a real place…..

This rich history means that there is a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to Mali. Chief amongst this being the Great Mosque of Djenné.

What is the Great Mosque of Djenne?

The exact date of the first mosque in Mali is unknown, but it is expected that it was built in the 13th or 14th century. As legend would have it, the Sultan converted to Islam, had his palace pulled down and replaced by the first mosque. Over the years it was expanded upon and today leaves us with the Great Mosque of Djenné.

The mosque made of mud?

So, we have covered the fact that it is one of the most famous mosques in the world, but why? Essentially like many of the other buildings in Djenne, it is made from mud–well, kind of.

In actual fact to say it is made of “mud” is very simplistic.The walls of the Mosque are made of sun-baked earth bricks (ferey), with sand and earth based mortar. These are then coated with a plaster which gives the building its smooth, sculpted look. It also has various other features to beautify the structure, making it much more than what you might think of as a building made of “mud”.

Yet, when it boils down to it, it is kinda made of mud. It is also one of the finest pieces of architecture in the world, and certainly the most unique in this part of Africa.

Visiting the Mosque

We currently run one group tour per year to Mali as well as offering independent travel to the country. Sadly Mali is not yet fully at peace, so what can be visited and when is in constant flux.

The central mosque of Djenné, in Mali

For more information about seeing the The Great Mosque of Djenne, or any other African odyssey get in touch with our team of experts.

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