Tomb of Askia

Tomb of Askia
Photo by Roman Bruehwiler.

The fifteenth-century Tomb of Askia in Gao is 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, the first Emperor of the Songhai Empire, which once controlled the lucrative trans-Saharan trade from West Africa. The complex includes the pyramidal tomb, two mosques, a cemetery and an assembly ground. It receives a regular renewal of the layer of plaster, which erodes each winter. 

Community Perspective: located in a region with long-standing security issues, the site has only been reviewed once so far. Werner visited on a day trip in 2011.

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Werner Huber

Austria - 16-Feb-11 -

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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Site Info

Full Name
Tomb of Askia
Unesco ID
2004 - In Danger
2 3 4
Archaeological site - Civilizations of Sub-Saharan Africa Structure - Burial

Site History

2012 In Danger

threatened by armed conflict & to prevent trafficking in cultural objects from the site

2004 Inscribed


The site has 1 locations

Tomb of Askia