Facts That Show Timbuktu Is One of the Most Fascinating Cities in History


Timbuktu may be a city within the West African country of Mali situated 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the River Niger on the southern fringe of the Sahara. The rapid economic process within the 13th and 14th centuries thank to trade salt, gold, ivory, and other things positioned the legendary city together of the best academic and commercial centers within the world. The city’s golden age within the 15th and 16th centuries proved fertile ground for a scholarship of religions, arts, math, and sciences for its 100,000 inhabitants and, therefore, the world.


Because of the problem of excavating through meters of sand that have buried the remains over the past centuries, there was no consensus on the origins of Timbuktu. However, a recent archaeological survey, between 2008 and 2010, by Yale academics confirmed that Timbuktu’s antiquity extends back further than its 12th century A.D. Tuareg origins, and permanent large-scale urban settlements began as early as 200 B.C. The researchers also concluded that Timbuktu was already a part of the trans-Saharan trade by 500 A.D.

Largest University in the World

Largest University within the World

Under the Songhai empire, the town became a top Muslim educational center, with quite 180 Quranic schools and universities. By the top of Mansa Musa’s reign (early 14th century A.D.), the Sankoré mosque, also referred to as the University of Sankoré, was one among the primary universities ever inbuilt the planet. An up to date of Oxford and therefore the Sorbonne, the extent of learning at Timbuktu’s Sankoré University, was superior to it of all other Islamic centers within the world. The three madrasahs — Djinguereber, Sidi Yahya, and Sankore — facilitated 25,000 students, making it also the essential university within the world at the time.

One of the most critical Libraries of Manuscripts in Africa Since Egypt’s Library of Alexandria

Considered one among the leading beacons of Islamic knowledge, Timbuktu drew many scholars from around the world. A lively trade book between Timbuktu and other parts of the Islamic world led to the writing of thousands of manuscripts. During the cities’ golden age, books became the first valuable commodity; in particular, another product. Timbuktu housed quite 700,000 documents, forming a priceless written account of African history.

About 20,000 manuscripts are preserved by the Ahmed Baba Institute, inbuilt 2009, to guard the delicate literary artifacts.

Many of the books also reside in a number of the local families’ private libraries. Among the families with manuscript collections, it’s traditional for one loved one from each generation to swear publicly that he will protect the library for as long as he lives. The families revere their manuscripts, even honoring them once a year through a vacation called Maouloud, on which imams and family elders perform a reading from the traditional prayer books to mark the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.

Before and through the occupation of the town by Islamic militants, quite 300,000 Timbuktu manuscripts from the Ahmed Baba Institute and from private libraries were saved and moved to safer locations in Mali.

The City of 333 Saints
The City of 333 Saints

The ‘City of 333 Saints’

Timbuktu is additionally referred to as the “City of 333 Saints” because 333 saints were laid to rest within the city. These were celebrated Muslim scholars and teachers who were revered for his or her exceptional wisdom, scholarship, and generosity. Many Muslim pilgrims traveled to Timbuktu to honor these religious icons.

Who Ruled?

Who Ruled?

Timbuktu was under the control of several different rulers throughout its 900-year history. It had been annexed by the Mali Empire early within the 14th century. Within the half of the 15th century, the Tuaregs took control of the town for a brief period until the expanding Songhai Empire absorbed the village in 1468.

A Moroccan army defeated the Songhai in 1591, and made Timbuktu, instead of Gao, the capital. The invaders established a replacement upper class, the Arma, who, after 1612, became virtually independent of Morocco.

Different tribes governed until the French took over in 1893, a situation that lasted until it became a part of the present Republic of Mali in 1960.

Attracted Metal-Hungry Europeans Who Instead Got a Faraway Place
Attracted Metal-Hungry Europeans Who Instead Got a Faraway Place

Attracted Metal-Hungry Europeans Who Instead Got a Faraway Place

Tales of Timbuktu’s fabulous wealth are one among the explanations metal-hungry Europeans came searching the West Coast of Africa for riches. Among the foremost famous descriptions of Timbuktu are those of the Spanish explorer Leo Africanus and, therefore, the captured African merchant Shabeni. However, the more truthful aspects of Africanus’ descriptions were largely ignored.

Well, before the Europeans arrived, Timbuktu had declined economically. When European travelers didn’t find the gold they were trying to find and instead found how difficult it had been to urge there, the city’s reputation shifted from being fabled due to its gold to being fabled due to its location and mystery. Getting used during this sense since a minimum of 1863, English dictionaries now cite Timbuktu as a metaphor for any faraway place.

Recognized as a World Heritage Site

Recognized as a World Heritage Site

In December 1988, the planet Heritage Committee (WHC) selected parts of Timbuktu’s historic center for inscription on its World Heritage list. Three mosques and 16 mausoleums or cemeteries were chosen for World Heritage status.

With inclusion came the decision for the cover of the buildings’ conditions and exclusion of the latest construction works near the sites and measures against the encroaching sand.

Shortly afterward, the monuments were placed on the List of World Heritage in peril by the Malian government, which lasted from 1990 until 2005, when restoration work, a compilation of a listing and other measures warranted “its removal from the Danger List.”

In 2008, the WHC placed the protected area under increased scrutiny, dubbed “reinforced monitoring,” to access the impact of planned construction work. The designation was removed a year later after concerns were addressed.

Following the takeover of Timbuktu by Tuareg militants MNLA and, therefore, the Islamist group Ansar Dine and the destruction of a number of the city’s monuments and tombs, the location was returned to the List of World Heritage in peril in 2012.

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