:: read more ::
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.
The three great mosques of Timbuktu, restored by the Qadi Al Aqib in the 16th century, bear witness to the golden age of the intellectual and spiritual capital at the end of the Askia dynasty. They played an essential part in the spread of Islam in Africa at an early period.
Timbuktu is thought to have been founded towards the end of the 5th century of the Hegira by a group of Imakcharen Tuaregs who, having wandered 250 km south of their base, established a temporary camp guarded by an old woman, Buktu. Gradually, Tim-Buktu (the place of Buktu) became a small sedentary village at the crossroads of several trade routes. Quickly converted to Islam (the two great mosques of Djingareyber and Sankore appeared during the Mandingue period), the market city of Timbuktu reached its apex under the reign of the Askia (1493-1591). It then became an important centre of Koranic culture with the University of Sankore and numerous schools attended, it is said, by some 25,000 students. Scholars, engineers and architects from various regions in Africa rubbed shoulders with wise men and marabouts in this intellectual and religious centre. Early on, Timbuktu attracted travellers from far-away countries.