Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso

Bobo-DioulassoKick back in the languid charm of the old quarter and the beautiful Grande Mosquée. Bobo, as it’s widely known, may be Burkina Faso second-largest city, but it has a small-town charm and its quiet tree-lined streets exude a languid, semitropical atmosphere that makes it a favourite rest stop for travellers. It has a thriving market, a fine mosque and a small popular quarter, Kibidwe, which is fascinating to roam around. There’s also a lively music scene.

The Grande Mosquée, built in 1893, is an outstanding example of Sahel-style mud architecture, with conical towers and wooden struts (which both support the structure and act as scaffolding during replastering). Although entry is forbidden for non-Muslims, it’s the exterior that is so captivating, especially at sunset when the façade turns golden and the faithful pass by on their way home or to the neighbouring well, often pausing for prayer in the mosque en route.A powerful sense of community life revolves around the mosque. The quiet and shady grounds in the immediate vicinity are interspersed with shelters and prayer mats for worshippers, and add to the charm of one of Burkina Faso’s most memorable sites.If you take one of the guides who hang around the vicinity, expect to pay for explanations about the mosque and a short tour of the Kibidwe district; permission to take photos in the latter should be included in the price.

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