Tomb of Askia
The fifteenth century Tomb of Askia in Gao is considered a fine example of the monumental mud-building traditions of the West African Sahel.
It is believed to be the burial place of Askia Mohammad I, first Emperor of Songhai.
The complex includes the pyramidal tomb, two mosques, a cemetery and an assembly ground. At 17 metres in height it is the largest pre-colonial architectural monument in the region. It is the first example of an Islamic architectural style that later spread throughout the region.
Map of Tomb of Askia
We visited Gao as part of our Mali-trip in Jan 2011. For security reasons triggered by the issues between governments in the Sahel area and Sahara terrorist groups we were advised not to stay overnight in Gao, so we came early in the morning from Hombori and returned the same afternoon.
On this very day we were obviously the only travellers in Gao. We had to ask for the warden of the Askia-tomb and got it opened for us. The tomb itself (dated from 1495) is of a pyramid shape, has a very similar structure than the mosque of Djenné and is surrounded by a mosque building. The guide showed us around, we could climb the tomb and also visit the mosque for a little tip, something rather unusual for non-muslims in Mali.
The real highlight is the trip through Mali itself, a country of apparingly easy minded and extremely friendly people with a lot of interesting locations. The heritage sites add some flavour, but the country itself is definitely worth a visit.
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