A place welcomed for all

Djenne, Mali

By: Shepyrd Murdough


Djenne, Mali is located 220 miles southwest of Timbuktu and situated on the floodlands of the Bani and Niger Rivers. It is also near the World Heritage Site Djenne-Djenno. The terrain there is rocky and is mostly desert because it is in the Sahara Desert. It is also along the Caravan routes.
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Djenne, Mali was founded in the 13th century near the historic site Djenne-Djenno. In 1468, it was captured by the Songhai emperor Sonni Ali. Then in 1591, Djenne was controlled by the Moroccan kings. However it was conquered by the Tukulor emperor Umar Tal in 1861. But then in 1893 the French occupied the region. A sultan named Koi Kunboro built the first mosque but little is known about its appearance. The second mosque was built in the 1830's by the Sheikh who are Islamic scholars. Then an architect named Ismaila Traore built the mosque that is standing today in 1906-1907.


Djenne was an ancient trading city and grew into an entrepot, a trading port for traders of central and western Sudan. Their biggest trade was mostly salt. A big part of Djenne is the Great Mosque. Raised on a sun-dried mud brick plinth platform, the Great Mosque is built from mud mortar and plastered over by mud. Depending on the walls height, it can vary their thickness. The mosque also has roof vents and women-made ceramic caps. The mosque is over 33 feet tall and over 246 feet wide. The Great Mosque is topped by crenellation, or special patterns to highlight the mosque's verticality. It also has attached pillars on the face of the building to attract attention.


Djenne is an agriculture trade center of diminished importance that has many examples of Muslim architecture. The Great Mosque, other historic buildings, and weekly markets attract tourists throughout the region. The people of Djenne have a spring festival where they re-plaster the Great Mosque because they think it will restore its power. The Mosques use of wood, mud bricks, and its adaption to the hot climate are expressions of its special connection to their local environment.

Interesting Facts

Some interesting facts about Djenne is that Djenne could also be spelled Jenne or Dienne. Another interesting fact is that it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988 because they want to increase the universal respect for justice. Some interesting facts about the Great Mosque is that the walls provide insulation from the suns radiation and that the Mosque's prayer hall has 90 wooden pillars that support its ceiling.

Works Cited

“Building in a River City.” Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Smithsonian Institution, n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://www.mnh.si.edu/exhibits/mud-masons/>.

“Djenne”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 02 Feb. 2016


Gray, Martin, ed. “Djenne, Mali.” Places of Peace and Power. Sacred Sites, 1982. Web. 4 Feb. 2016. <https://sacredsites.com/africa/mali/djenne.html>.

“Great Mosque.” Annenberg Learner. Annenberg Foundation, 2016. Web. 1 Mar. 2016. <https://www.learner.org/courses/globalart/work/114/index.html>.

“Great Mosque of Djenne.” Khan Academy. Khan Academy, n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. <https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-africa/west-africa/mali1/a/great-mosque-of-djenn>.

“Great Mosque of Djenne.” WikiPedia. WikiPedia, n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Mosque_of_Djenn%C3%A9#Design>.

“Islamic Architecture in Mali.” Kamit. Takeo Kamiya, n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2016. <http://www.kamit.jp/27_mali/mal_eng.htm>.

“Mosque in Djenne.” Globo Sapiens. Findix Technologies, 2002. Web. 1 Mar. 2016. <http://www.globosapiens.net/mali-travel/Djenne.html>.