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Djenne, Mali

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Djenne, Grand Mosque, Dogon Region, Mali

The Grand Mosque of Djenne

Stuart Hurlbut

The History of Djenne:

Djenne, founded in 800 AD, is one of sub-Saharan Africa's oldest cities. Situated on an island in the Niger River delta, Djenne was a natural hub for traders who shuttled their goods between the Sahara desert and the forests of Guinea. Through the years Djenne also became a center of Islamic learning and its market square is still dominated by the beautiful Grand Mosque. Djenne is located a few hundred miles downstream from Timbuktu.

What to See in Djenne Today:

The Grande Mosque is the largest mud-brick building in the world. The Mosque has three huge turrets with wooden poles sticking out, making it look like a magnificent sand castle. Each year the people of Djenne get together to repair the building. Non-Muslims cannot go inside the Mosque.

The Grand Marche (market) is held every Monday and is one of West Africa's most colorful markets. Thousands of traders come from all over the region to sell their goods.

Djenne town itself is a very interesting place full of mud-brick homes decorated with paint. It's worth spending some hours just walking around.

How to Get to Djenne (Mali):

The best way to get to Djenne is to take a taxi from Mopti. The journey takes about 2 hours. There are buses from the capital Bamako and Segou that go at least once a week, but you'll have to enquire locally.

Although Djenne is on a river, it's rarely deep enough for a regular boat service to the town. At the end of the rainy season (September) you may be able to get a boat from Mopti.

Many tours to Mali will stop in Djenne and you can find some examples below.

Tours to Djenne (Mali):

Note: The prices should be used as a guideline only and they do not include airfare.

Best Time to Go to Djenne (Mali):

At the end of the rainy season (August/September), Djenne is at its most picturesque since it turns into an island.

Where to Stay in Djenne:

Accommodation is very basic in Djenne.

  • Auberge le Maafir has rooms with a bathroom and serves breakfast.
  • Chez Baba has very basic rooms and a campsite in a nice location.
  • Le Campement de Djenne is where most tour groups stay. The Campement Offers rooftop mattresses and basic rooms.
  • Hotel Tapama is a Moroccan style hotel with courtyard and offers basic rooms with bathroom.

Source: Lonely Planet West Africa Guide

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