Landmarks of Niger

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Traditional architecture in Maraadi region, Niger
Traditional architecture in Maraadi region / Amy Reed, / CC BY-SA 3.0

Most interesting landmarks of Niger

Below are listed the most amazing natural and man made landmarks of Niger.

Natural landmarks of Niger

  • Gadoufaoua – Agadez. Fossil graveyard in Tenere desert which contain bones of extinct animals. Amazing find is the fossils of Sarcosuchus imperator, most terrible crocodile in the world which lived some 112 million years ago.
  • Orida Arch – Agadez. Free standing natural arch – a loop of sandstone, rising from the desert sands.
  • Timia waterfall – Agadez. Seasonal waterfall in guelta (seasonal stream) in the cliffs of Timia oasis.

Man made landmarks of Niger

Prehistoric landmarks

Dabous giraffes - world's largest prehistoric petroglyphs in Niger
Dabous giraffes – world’s largest prehistoric petroglyphs / Albert Backer, / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Bura site – Tera. Prehistoric (first millenium AD) necropolis with coffins which are adorned with interesting terra cotta statues. Site contains burial mounds, shrines, ancient dwellings. This site has given name to local archaeological culture – Bura culture.
  • Dabous giraffe carvings – Agadez. World’s largest single petroglyph. Unique life-sized rock carvings of two giraffes created some 8 – 10 thousand years ago. The quality and detail of carvings is exceptional. Largest giraffe is 5.4 m tall. The site contains hundreds of other petroglyphs. Niger is very rich with prehistoric cliff art and there are countless sites with petroglyphs, including very interesting and somewhat mysterious round-headed people in Tageuit.
  • Gobero site – Agadez. Oldest known graveyard in the Sahara, was used already sometimes around 8,000 BC. Here have been found remnants of extinct animals, human remains and many interesting artefacts. Site was inhabited for some 5 thousand years.

Living historical settlements

Zinder Old city, Niger
Zinder Old city / Roland, / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Agadez – Agadez. Tuareg city, founded before the 14th century AD. Historical quartals of this desert city are built from adobe and soil, several buildings have outstanding architecture – such as the mosque with the tallest adobe structure in the world.
  • Fachi fortified village – Agadez. Fortified citadel of Fachi village has tall walls and inside it are located granaries to provide food in a case of siege. Village was fortified to repel the raids of Tuaregs and others.
  • Zinder historical centres – Zinder. Historical desert city which evolved in the 18th century. Two districts in the city – Birni and Zengou – contain many historical buildings. Birni (Birini) contains Zinder Great Mosque and Zinder Sultan’s Palace, but Zengou (old Hausa settlement) – many examples of vernacular architecture. City has numerous mudbrick buildings.

Abandoned settlements

Ruins of Djado, Niger
Ruins of Djado / Holger Reineccius, / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Assodé ruins – Agadez. Ruins of historical Tuareg capital in Aïr mountains, founded around the 11th century AD, declined in the 18th century AD and abandoned since 1917. Ruins of 30 m long mosque.
  • Djado ruins and Djaba ruins – Agadez. Ruins of amazing, fortified hilltop towns in Djado Plateau.

Mosques

  • Agadez Mosque – Agadez. Large clay building, originally constructed in 1515 and restored in 1844. Mosque has 27 m tall minaret – tallest adobe structure in the world.
  • Yamma Mosque (Yaama Mosque) – Tahoua. Unusual building, constructed in 1962 and later in traditional style, from adobe. Building has elaborate structure of central dome and four minarets. The local architect Elhadj Mamoudou dit Falké has built several similar mosques in this area.

Palaces

  • Agadez Palace – Agadez. Massive building from adobe, palace of local sultan.
  • Zinder Palace – Zinder. Palace of local sultan, large building in traditional local style, built from adobe.

Other man made landmarks of Niger

L'Arbre du Ténéré in 1939, Niger. Once the loneliest tree in the world.
L’Arbre du Ténéré in 1939, Niger. Once the loneliest tree in the world.
  • Madarounfa Lake – Maradi. Around this lake are 99 graves of Muslim saints. Site of legends about unusual events, e.g. gatherings of light on Thursday evenings.
  • Tree of Ténéré (sculpture) – Agadez. Metal sculpture in the site where was standing lonely tree, reportedly – the loneliest tree in the world. This Acacia was standing 400 km from the nearest tree until it was knocked down by a car in 1973.
  • Tunguma Stone – Dosso, near Lougou. Traditional stone of judgement, which can be approached only by certain, authorized people. According to local traditions it moves towards the one who asks, of the answer is positive and moves away, if negative. This site has many legends, including legends about the nearby burial of legendary first queen of Saraounia. This area is the last stronghold of Hausa animist religion.

Described landmarks of Niger

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Agadez Mosque: 16.974156, 7.988422

For most part Niger is covered with desert. While some parts of country have monotonous landscape, there are suprising landmarks. Highlights of Niger are:

  • Historical desert cities and towns. There are several old cities, towns and villages in the country with well preserved traditional architecture. Some are abandoned (Djado and Djaba) and now are exotic ruins in the middle of desert. Others are alive (Agadez, Fachi, Zinder) and to outsider may look like living open-air museums.
  • Adobe buildings. World’s tallest adobe structure – Agadez Mosque with its 27 m tall minaret – is in Niger. There are many other interesting buildings from adobe in the country.

Featured: Agadez Mosque

Agadez Mosque - tallest adobe structure in the world
Agadez Mosque – tallest adobe structure in the world / Dan Lundberg, / CC BY-SA 2.0

Like a lighthouse rises the tallest adobe structure in the world – minaret of Agadez Mosque. This 27 m tall tower for centuries has served to watch out for enemies and invited caravans to Tuareg metropolis – Agadez.

Recommended books

Niger: The Bradt Travel Guide


This first English-language guide to the Saharan country of Niger spans the densely populated regions of the south–a colorful melting pot of cultures–and the hostile desert landscape of the north–featuring some of the most stunning sand dunes in Africa. Transport options for travelers are a particular feature of the guide–including long-distance connections to neighboring countries, river trips on the River Niger and camel trekking in the Massif de Aïr and Ténéré desert regions, home to the nomadic Tuareg people.

Lost Cities of AfricaNiger tourism: Sahara tour, in Niger republic


Overview of Niger republic: Niger has been inhabited by humans since at least 10000 BC, and has been part of many major West African empires throughout its history. Though today, Niger is situated within the Sahara Desert, its early terrain featured fertile grasslands and a variety of wildlife, and became the arid desert it is today beginning around 5200 BC.

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