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World Heritage Site

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Tomb of Askia

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


  • Cultural

Community Reviews

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: 1139

Inscribed: 2004 In Danger

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 2   3   4  

Link: By Name By ID

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


The site has 15 connections.




  • Songhai Empire: Born Muhammad Toure, he took the opportunity of the death of the Songhai King in 1492 to defeat the heir (who had refused to become a Moslem) and thus make himself king. He expanded and consolidated the Empire,becoming known as "Askia the Great" (Askia = "Forceful One"). Situated in Gao - his capital
  • Trans Saharan trade routes: " bears testimony to the power and riches of the empire that flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries through its control of the trans-Saharan trade, notably in salt and gold." (AB)

Religion and Belief

  • Mosque: Complex includes 2 mosques


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