Ancient African Mosques

From Senegal to Ghana, to Egypt to Somalia, Africa is known for its fantastic mosques – each an architectural masterpiece in their own right. Here are 20 of the most unique & ancient mosques in Africa, each a reflection of the local building styles



1/ The Mosque of the Companions, Massawa, Eritrea. early 7th century CE


Did you know? This was the first mosque built in the continent of Africa. It is believed to be the first mosque on the African continent.



2/ Great Mosque of Djenné, Mali, built 13th c. current structure 1907


World’s largest mud-brick building & finest example of Sudano-Sahelian architecture; characterised by its adobe plastering & wooden scaffolding. The walls are reconstructed with mud each April in a 1 day event



3/ Minaret of Hamoudi mosque (1906), City of Djibouti, Djibouti


Every city has at least one iconic building, and this is the closest thing to it in Djibouti city what with the mosque's size and prominent location above the main square



4/ Chinguetti Mosque, Adrar, Mauritania, 13th-14th century


The minaret of this ancient structure is supposed to be the second oldest in continuous use anywhere in the Muslim world. The mosque is popularly considered the national emblem of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania



5/ Larabanga Mosque, Ghana, early 1400s


Founded by one of the Prophet’s (PBUH) Companions, Ibrahim Ayuba al-Ansari, who was sent there from al-Madinah. Built in the Sudanese architectural style, it is the oldest in the country & one of the oldest in West Africa



6/ Djinguereber Mosque, Timbuktu, Mali, 1327


A famous learning center of Mali, cited as Djingareyber or Djingarey Ber in various languages. Its design is accredited to Abu Ishaq Al Saheli who was paid 200 kg (40,000 mithqals) of gold by Musa I of Mali, emperor of the Mali Empire



7/ Agadez Mosque, Agadez, Tchirozerine Department, Niger, 1515


It was made of clay and is the tallest mud-brick structure in the world. The city was built in 1515 at the time when the city was captured by the Songhai Empire. It was restored and some of it was rebuilt in 1844




8/ The Great Mosque of Kano, Nigeria, 15th century


The great mosque was built for Muhammad Rumfa. It was made of mud, and was of the soro, or tower, variety.[1] It was moved to a new site by Muhammad Zaki in 1582, and rebuilt in the mid 19th century by Abdullahi dan Dabo.



9/ The Great Mosque of Touba, Senegal, 1887


Founded by Amadou Bamba in 1887 and completed in 1963. Bamba died in 1927 and is interred inside the mosque. It is the largest building in the city and one of the largest mosques in Africa, with a capacity of 7,000



10/ The Fakr Ad-Din Mosque, Somalia, 13th century


Also known as Masjid Fakhr Ad-Din, the 2nd oldest mosque in Somalia after Masjid al-Qiblatayn (Somaliland). It is located in Hamar Weyne mogadishu, the oldest part of the city. It is believed to be the 7th oldest mosque in Africa



11/ Masjid al-Qiblatayn, Zeila, Somaliland, 7th century


Built after the hijrah, the migration of the early followers of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to Abyssinia. Now mostly in ruins, it is one of the oldest mosques in Africa & contains the tomb of Sheikh Babu Dena



12/ Khatmiyah Mosque, Kassala, Sudan, 18th century


At the base of the Taka Mountains is this spectacular mosque, centre of the Khatmiyah Sufi sect. It's a lovely mudbrick building with a pointed octagonal minaret and a photogenic arcade of columns in the main prayer hall



13/ Great Mosque of Kilwa, Lindi Region of Tanzania, 10th century


The Great Mosque of Kilwa is a great example of Swahili architecture. It is one of the earliest surviving mosques on the Swahili coast and is one of the first mosques built without a courtyard



14/ Great Mosque of Béja, Tunisia, 944


Built by the Fatimidis on an old Christian basilica, near it there is another mosque, The Bey’s Mosque, which was built in 1675 by Murad II Bey for Hanafi Muslims of the city & in 1685 Mohamed Bey El Mouradi added a Madrasa to the mosque



15/ Mosque of the Seven Sleepers, Chenini, Tataouine, Tunisia


Where the sleepers are allegedly buried: in the surroundings of the masjid some uncommonly large tombs (about 4 meters long) are visible.



16/ Bou Inania Madrasa, Fes, Morocco, 1350–55 CE


Built in 1350–55 CE by Abu Inan Faris. It is the only madrasa in Morocco which also functioned as a congregational mosque. Widely acknowledged as a high point of Marinid architecture & of historic Moroccan architecture generally



17/ Al-Azhar Mosque, Cairo, Egypt, 970


One of the oldest and most important mosques in Egypt. It is considered a source for enlightenment. The cornerstone of Al-Azhar Mosque was laid on Ramadan 14, 359 AH – 970



18/ The Great Mosque of Fes el-Jdid, Fes, Morocco, 1276


It is the historic main Friday mosque of Fes el-Jdid. It is believed to have been founded by the Marinid sultan Abu Yusuf, around the same time that the city itself was founded, making it the oldest mosque in Fes el-Jdid



19/ The Mosque of Ibn Tulun, Cairo, Egypt, 879


One of the oldest mosques in Egypt as well as the whole of Africa surviving in its full original form & is the largest mosque in Cairo. It features ancient architecture styles of Egypt, being created from carved stucco and wood



20/ Al Nejashi Mosque, Negash, Ethiopia, 7th century


Negash is synonymous with Islam as it is the place where the first Muslim settlement took place in the world. It houses the tombs of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) & is dubbed by Ethiopian Muslims as “the second Mecca”