• Registration Year


  • Registered Sector

    Old Towns of Djenné

  • Historical Function


Location and site

On the edge of the Sahara and wet Sudan, Djenné is located at the hinge between the nomad world and the sedentary world. Constructed on a small defensive island in the Niger Basin, it is 500 km. by river from the caravan city of Tombouctou, with which it was linked for trade.

Urban Morphology

In the middle of a plain without a village, the hillock on which Djenné is situated was at the limit of the inundation zone during the Niger River's flooding season. The large market square is dominated by the Great Mosque. The streets of sand, narrow or wide, wind their way towards the two major squares. Eleven neighbourhoods make up the spontaneous plan, which covers 20 hectares and is enclosed by fortification walls.

The city is constructed in a homogeneous architectural style that is typical of Sudan. Cubes of pisé covered with roughcast are used to construct the dwellings of these dry countries. Decorated pilasters, crenelations and parapets elaborate the facades and their discrete openings. The Great Mosque, which dominates the landscape, is made up of a multiplicity of vertical lines.

Registration Criteria

Djenné-Djeno, along with Hambarketolo, Tonomba and Kaniana, represent exceptional testimonies to the pre-Islamic civilizations of the interior delta of the Niger. (III) Its ensemble illustrates a significant historical period. (IV)

Historical Reference

  • The Mali Empire was founded in the 13th century. It absorbed the Kingdom of Ghana, which had once been famous for its gold export trade across the Sahara and was crushed by the attacks of the Almoravids.
  • Since the 9th or 10th century, the small city of Djenné-Djeno played a major role in the gold trade and the trade of other products of Sudan.
  • In the 11th century, a colony that was running from the Almoravids was established on the site of the present-day city. In 1300, the conversion of the King to Islam led to the Islamisation of the Empire. This created political stability and commercial prosperity; an original black civilisation developed under this Mendingos Dynasty.
  • Djenné was engaged in the trade between black Africa and the Maghreb and Europe. It was associated with Tomboctou and possessed a large naval fleet. At the same time, it was a communications centre for Islam. It enjoyed prosperity in the 15th and 16th centuries.
  • At the end of the 16th century, the empire declined under successive attacks.
M. Bamoy Traoré
Commune de Djenné
Cercle de Djenné Région de Mopti
Djenné, République du Mali
+223 42.02.48
+223 42.02.48
M. Boubacar Cissé
Gestionnaire du patrimoine culturel

Djenné, Mali