Great Mosque of Djenné (1907)
The mosque, built in a distinctive architectural style, is the largest adobe structure in the world.
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Great Mosque of Djenné
The city of Djenné is located in Mali, Africa, on the floodplain of the Bani River. The most notable building in the city is the Great Mosque.
The first mosque in Djenné was probably built in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the first half of the 19th century, the building was neglected and nearly fell into complete ruin. After the city was captured by the French in 1893, the great mosque was rebuilt. It has been standing in its present form in the heart of the old town since 1907.
The mosque, constructed in a special architectural style that is characteristic of West Africa, is the largest adobe structure in the world. It was built on a platform which is raised by 3 m (9.84 ft) above the level of its surroundings.
The mosque is made of banco, a type of adobe brick, and mortar. The walls are plastered and decorated with bundles of palm sticks projecting out, lending the exterior its unique character. They serve primarily as decoration but are also used as scaffolding during the annual repair work.
Although the main entrance to the mosque is at the northern wall, the eastern wall has a greater importance. This is the qibla wall, which indicates the direction of Mecca, towards which all Muslims must turn during prayer.
This wall is about 1 m (3.28 ft) thick and is strengthened by buttresses. The towers at the corners and the three minarets jutting out from the wall are topped by spires, with ostrich eggs atop each. These symbolize fertility and purity in Malian mythology. The mosque and the old town of Djenné became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
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