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UNESCO Monument of the Tomb of Askia Mohammad I, Gao

Filed in Mali by on April 5, 2012 0 Comments

UNESCO Monument of the Tomb of Askia Mohammad I, Gao - West Africa

In the middle of nowhere and with quite a few dozen of hours away from Bamako direction Niger, we find the city of Gao that incredibly has a UNESCO protected World Heritage site.

The Tomb of Askia located on the outskirts of Gao, is believed to be the mausoleum of the 1st Emperor of Songhai named Askia Mohammad I.

This memorial complex is aligned with the cardinal directions and inside has the tomb, a mosque and a several rooms capable to contain hundreds of people to pray.

The tomb is built of mud brick on a square plan about 14 by 18 meters. All the structure has wooden poles coming out of it, which gives a distinct look but is what keeps the whole building together. It is the earliest example of Islamic architecture that soon after extended over the region.

To go inside you have to pay an entrance fee and you should agree to have a guide and explain you the different places of the memorial complex. This way you learn about it while visiting it in loco.

As a converted Muslim, Askia Mohammad I felt constrained to make his pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city for Muslim, which he returned from in 1495. He brought back from Mecca all of the mud and wood to build his tomb. It is said that the Askia Mohammad I caravan was as large as the eye could see and had around thousand dromedaries.