"Timbuktu, where the camel meets the canoe" Top 5 Page for this destination Timbuktu by sachara
Timbuktu Travel Guide: 95 reviews and 400 photos
For many people in the world Timbuktu has an air of mystery. Many people think about this legendary city in Mali more as a mythical place than as a city with a real history. Timbuktu is often used as a far away place, a metaphor for a remote and distant place beyond a person's experience.
In reality Timbuktu was an economic and cultural capital in West Africa of historical importance. Timbuktu was founded around 1100 as a Tuareg nomad camp at a strategic place on the southernmost edge of the Sahara desert and about 12 km from the bend of the Niger River, gate to subsaharan Africa.
From the thirteenth century, Timbuktu became a prosperous centre of trade in Africa. The long distance trans-Saharan trade routes brought great wealth to the city. Caravans brought salt from mines in the Sahara desert to exchange for gold and slaves brought along the river from subsaharan Africa in the south. By 1330 Timbuktu was part of the powerful Mali Empire, which controlled the lucrative gold-salt trade routes in the region. The geographical setting of the town made it a natural meeting point for people in West Africa in the south and the Berber and Arab people in the north and so indirectly also for traders in the Middle East and Europe.
The wealth of the city attracted not only merchants but also academic and religious scholars. By the fourteenth century Timbuctu became not only a major center for the trans-Sahara gold and salt trade, but also a intellectual and spiritual centre of Islamic scholarship and culture in West Africa.
Timbuktu had a great historical importance. It was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
The official UNESCO description:
Home of the prestigious Koranic Sankore University and other madrasas, Timbuktu was an intellectual and spiritual capital and a centre for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its three great mosques, Djingareyber, Sankore and Sidi Yahia, recall Timbuktu's golden age. Although continuously restored, these monuments are today under threat from desertification.
Nowadays you can find three great mosques in Timbuktu, like the Sankoré mosque, libraries with manuscripts and medresses. Timbuktu looks like a dusty desert town. Only with some imagination and by visiting some of the libraries with old manuscripts you can feel and see a glimpse of the importance of Timbuktu as spiritual capital and centre in the 15th and 16th century.
In 2008 an interesting book is published, called 'The hidden treasures of Timbuktu, Historic City of Islamic Africa'.
For many years I was very tempted to visit Timbuktu some day. First in january 2009 during my third visit to Mali I came to Timbuktu. The main reason was to go to the Festival au Desert in Essakane 70 km northwest of Timbuktu, a tempting mix of desert, camels, Tuareg and African music during three days in the middle of nowhere.
For more pictures and details look at the travelogues below and my page Essakane, Festival au Desert.
Strolling around in the backstreets of Tmbuktu, I saw at several places that inhabitants kept their livestock, mainly... more travel advice
On our way from the Djingereber Great Mosque to the explorer house of Gorden Laing we saw some boys sitting in the... more travel advice
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- See All Festival au Desert: afternoon program
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