Mud architecture at Djenne

Travel to Djenne – Largest Mud Mosque in the World

Djenne is a small historical city located in the Niger Inland Delta of central Mali, some 450 km northeast of Bamako. In the past, Djenné was a centre of trade and learning, and has been conquered a number of times since its founding.

Situated on the Niger and Bani Rivers, Djenne is one of Mali’s major highlights. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1988, the city has taken great care to preserve its unique mud architecture, including its world-famous mud mosque.

Djenne was founded in 800 CE by the Bozo people at a site known as Djenné-Jeno. It moved its site in either 1043 or the 13th century, when the city converted to Islam, which increased its importance as a market and a base for trans-Saharan trade, soon rivalling Timbuktu.

Throughout its history, Djenne had known the succession of several empires. In 1473, the city was conquered by the Songhai Empire under Sonni Ali. The siege of Djenne is said to have lasted 7 months and 7 days culminating in the death of the city’s king and its capitulation. In 1591, Djenne was conquered by Morocco after destroying Songhai’s hold in the region.

By the 1600s, it became a thriving centre of trade and learning. Caravans from Djenne frequented southern trading towns like Begho, Bono Manso, and Bonduku. From 1670 to 1818, Djenne was part of the Segou kingdom, Massina under the Fulani ruler Amadou Lobbo from 1818 to 1861, and the Toucouleur Empire under Umar Tall from 1861 to 1893.

The city was finally conquered by the French that year. During this period, both the city’s importance and trade declined. Today, Djenne’s trade is based on agriculture, coffee, kola nuts and fish, as well as tourism.

Travellers to Djenne can visit the Great Mosque of Djenne (also known as Komboro Mosque), the largest mud-brick building in the world built in 1907. The Grand Marche (Monday market), is one of West Africa’s most colorful markets with thousands of traders coming here from all over the region.

The Tomb of Tupama Djenepo, who in legend was sacrificed on the founding of the city is worth a look, as are the ruins of Jenné-Jeno, a historical city between the 3rd-13th centuries BC. Take time to explore the old town, famous for its traditional mud brick houses constructed on hillocks.

Within Djenne travellers can explore all the attractions easily on foot. The best way to see the villages surrounding the town is to rent donkey carts.

  • Explore the local villages surrounding Djenne and visit the Monday market.
  • Marvel at a mosque – see some of the best mud-brick architecture on earth.
  • Wander the streets and alleyways of Djenné and get an immpression of real life in a West African town.


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