"MALI: Timbuktu" Top 5 Page for this destination Africa Things to Do Tip by sachara

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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 metaphor for a remote and distant place beyond a person's experience.

Timbuktu was founded around 1100 C.E. as a Tuareg nomad camp at a strategic place on the southernmost edge of the Sahara desert and about eight miles from the bend of the Niger River, gate to subsaharean Africa. From the thirteenth century, Timbuktu became a prosperous center of trade in Africa. The long distance trans-Saharan trade routes brought great wealth to the city. The geographical setting of the town made it a natural meeting point for people in West Africa, Berber and Arab people from the north and also traders from the Middle East and Europe.

The wealth of the city attracted not only merchants and traders 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. but in time the developed into the intellectual and spiritual center of West Africa. Timbuktu had such a great historical importance that in 1988 it was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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.

For more information look at my Timbuktu page.


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  • Updated Dec 18, 2010
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