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The Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali

We greet you, Africa from the Great Mosque of Djenné, the living heart of the Djenné community and the world’s largest mud-built building located in Mali, Africa’s eighth largest country

Known as one of the most exclusive mosques in the world, this magnificent structure is considered by many architects to be one of the greatest accomplishments of Sudano-Sahelian architecture.

Standing on a large promenade, the Great Mosque of Djenné which was rebuilt in 1907, exactly as the original mosques is labelled as one of the largest mud brick constructions in the world. This great work of craftsmanship however remains a mysterious enchantment to many as non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the alluring enigma.

Djenne Mosque. Source:wondermondo
Djenne Mosque. Source:wondermondo

The giant Mosque whose appearance resembles that of a sandcastle because of its multitude towers and pilasters is one of the most famous landmarks in Africa and it was also crowned as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 along with the Old Towns of Djenné .

The most interesting and mind blowing view of this magnificent workmanship is the symmetric arrangement of three large towers in the qibla wall of the Mosque.

Although there are many mosques that are older than its current incarnation, the Great Mosque remains the most prominent symbol of both the city of Djenné and the nation of Mali.

bird's eye view of the Great castle. Source: studyblue.
bird’s eye view of the Great castle. Source: studyblue.

Design

  • The entire structure is built on a 75 x 75 metre platform that is raised three meters above ground in order to secure the mosque from annual flooding of the river Bani.
  • The walls of the Mosque of Djenné are made of mud brick, covered with clay plaster that gives the building a sleek, sculptural appearance. The walls are 40 to 60 centimeters thick.
Great Mosque of Djenné bundles of rodier palm sticks embedded in the walls of the Mosque, are used for decoration and serve as scaffolding for annual repairs. Source:wikipedia
Great Mosque of Djenné bundles of rodier palm sticks embedded in the walls of the Mosque, are used for decoration and serve as scaffolding for annual repairs. Source:wikipedia
Djenné Great Mosque entrance. Source:archnet
Djenné Great Mosque entrance. Source:archnet
  • The thickness varies depending on the height of the wall. Palm branches were used as beams to reduce the cracking of the walls due to the sudden changes in temperature and humidity.
  • The walls insulate the building from heat during the day and by nightfall have absorbed enough heat to keep the mosque warm through the night.
  • The prayer wall or quibla of the Great Mosque faces east towards Mecca and overlooks the city marketplace.
  • Half of the mosque is covered by a roof and the other half is an open air prayer hall or courtyard.
  • The roof of the mosque is supported by ninety wooden pillars that span the interior prayer hall.
  • The tradition of repairing the Mosque every year is what unifies the community and creates strong ties. It is for this reason that the locals resisted and still resist any attempt to change the nature of their “temporary” building.
The Mosque interior showing the stripping of mud prior to restoration. Source: Archnet
Roof top of the Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali. Source:nairaland
Roof top of the Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali. Source:nairaland
Inside view of the prayer room of the Great Mosque of Djenne. Photo:RemiBenali/Corbis
Inside view of the prayer room of the Great Mosque of Djenne. Photo:RemiBenali/Corbis

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