The Great Mosque of Djenné -- the Largest Mud Brick Building in the World

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The Great Mosque of Djenné in the West African country of Mali was originally constructed in the 13th Century. It gradually grew to be an enormous structure before it fell into ruins by the 19th Century. From 1906-7, it was rebuilt using adobe -- the original building material. It is today the largest adobe structure in the world:

The Great Mosque is built on a raised plinth platform of rectangular sun-dried mud bricks that are held together by mud mortar and plastered over with mud. The walls vary in thickness between sixteen and twenty-four inches, depending upon their height. These massive walls are necessary in order to bear the weight of the tall structure and also provide insulation from the sun's heat. During the day, the walls gradually warm up from the outside; at night, they cool down again. The mosque’s prayer hall, with ninety wooden pillars supporting its ceiling, can contain as many as 3000 people. This helps the interior of the mosque to stay cool all day long. The Great Mosque also has roof vents with ceramic caps. These caps, made by the town's women, can be removed at night to ventilate the interior spaces. [...]

Although the Great Mosque incorporates architectural elements found in mosques throughout the Islamic world, it reflects the aesthetics and materials used for centuries by the people of Djenné. Its use of local materials, such as mud and palm wood, its incorporation of traditional architectural styles, and its adaptation to the hot climate of West Africa are expressions of its elegant connection to the local environment. Such earthen architecture, which is found throughout Mali, can last for centuries if regularly maintained.

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My daughter, a college student, is living in Mali and just visiting this mosque last week. A rare turn of events allowed her and her classmates to tour the inside. Being female and American, this was truly a treat to be permitted entry.
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The current Great Mosque of djenne, although a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the great architectural wonders of Africa, is not the original mosque of Djenne. The first Great Mosque of Djenne was built in the 13th century by Koy Konboro, Djenne's first Islamicized ruler.
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I saved this post on my feed reader until I had the time and internet speed to watch it... and it was worth it! Not what I expected but definitely interesting. Loved the cameraman's toes wiggling at the end!
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