Landmarks of Somalia

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Cal Madow mountains, Somalia
Cal Madow mountains / Abdirisak, , public domain

Most interesting landmarks of Somalia

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

Natural landmarks of Somalia

Country has amazing ecosystems, especially the lush tropical forest of Cal Madow mountains – but their size exceeds the threshold of Wondermondo landmarks. In these mountains have formed numerous tall waterfalls, some waterfalls are found outside Cal Madow mountains too.

  • Berde Ficus – Awdal. Giant fig (Ficus spp.) tree, possibly the largest tree in Somaliland, grows near Qabuurta village.
  • Daallo Frankincense Forest – Sanaag. Lush forest of frankincense trees (Boswellia frereana) at the base of Cal Madow mountains. Thanks to the trees in the air is constant, intense fragrance. Other rare plants, including Gabel Elba dragon’s blood tree (Dracaena ombet). Here live also numerous rare animals.
  • Iskushuban Falls – Bari. Perennial waterfall.
  • Lamadaya (Lama Daye) – Sanaag. Impressive waterfall in Cal Madow mountains, falls have formed tufa formations.

Man made landmarks of Somalia

Laas Gaal rock art, Somalia
Laas Gaal rock art, Somalia / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Rock paintings

There are known hundreds of locations with rock art and many more still are waiting to be discovered.

  • Buur Heybe rock paintings (Gogoshiis Qabe) – Bay. Rock paintings and remnants of prehistoric settlements from the Middle and Late Stone Age. Found skeletal remains of 14 people. Site is located at some 300 m tall granitic inselberg.
  • Dhambalin – Togdheer. Rock shelter in sandstone with some of the best polychrome paintings in Africa, a testimony of one of the oldest pastoral societies in the world. Here are depicted different animals: bovines, goats, sheep, dogs, snake, turtle and also at least eight giraffes which are extinct here now. Site includes also paintings of humans with bow and arrows, one seems to be riding a horse. Many animals and people have white belts. Paintings were made 5000 – 3000 BC.
  • Karin Heegan – Sanaag. Granitic hill with prehistoric rock art – more than 100 figures, mostly bovines, also goats, camels, three humans. Cave in the hill was inhabited roughly in 100 BC – 400 AD, but it is possible that drawings are older.
  • Jilib Rihin and Haadh rock art – Sanaag. Rock paintings of cattle and human. Interesting detail is white belt on them.
  • Laas Gaal – Togdheer. Group of 10 caves and shelters with beautiful, well preserved cave paintings, created 11 – 5 thousand years ago. Undeciphered inscriptions are under the drawings. In this region have been found numerous other caves with paintings.

Prehistoric sites

  • Botiala necropolis – Bari. Ancient burial grounds next to Botiala fortress. Site includes some 200 stone cairns, some with standing stones.
  • Jalelo site – Awdal. Paleolithic – Neolithic "factory" of stone tools – lanceheads, arrowheads, scrapers. Scientifically important site which links the Paleolite cultures of the West and East.

Ancient cities

Prehistoric structures in Haylaan, Somalia
Prehistoric structures in Haylaan / Abdirisak, / CC BY-SA 3.0

List includes these cities where most of the visible structures were built before the medieval period.

  • Abasa – Awdal. Ancient city with ruins of numerous old buildings, remnants of city walls. Here has been found pottery from the Middle East and China.
  • Amud Old City – Awdal. Ruins of ancient city with ruins of hundreds of buildings, city walls. City flourished in the 15th – 16th century AD.
  • Elaayo – Sanaag. Ancient coastal town, possible trade city in the times of Ancient Egypt and Greece. Town and its surroundings are rich with prehistoric burial cairns.
  • Haylaan ruins and necropolis – Sanaag. Ruins of stone settings, cairns made by Kushitic people in prehistoric times.
  • Maydh – Sanaag. Ancient port town, home of Sheikh Isaaq in the 12th or 13th century AD. Contains tombs of ancient rulers.
  • Ras Hafun ruins (possibly – Opone) – Bari. Ruins of once important port city which flourished in the 1st century AD. Back in those times this port served trade ships from Malaysia, Indonesia and nearer places. Here have been found remnants of diverse buildings and megaliths, necropolis, Roman and Partho-Sassanid pottery, different coins.
  • Qa’ableh – Sanaag. Ruins of ancient town with numerous archaeological landmarks, including purported tombs of former kings – megalithic stone settings.
  • Qombo’ul – Sanaag. Historical town with ancient ruins, stone settings and cairns.
  • Sheikh – Togdheer. Ancient town with numerous historical structures, including interesting ancient temples.

Medieval cities

Barawa, Somalia
Barawa / Vascoscream, / CC BY-SA 3.0

List includes these cities where most of the visible buildings were built in the medieval period.

  • Barawa – Shabeellaha Hoose. Picturesque port city, founded in the 10th century AD or earlier. Historical center consists of coral stone buildings with large windows, there are remnants of city walls. City has a tradition of ornate handicrafts in local style.
  • Gondershe – Banaadir. Medieval port city with fortifications, located at the sea. Established in the 14th century AD or slightly later.
  • Las Khorey – Sanaag. This town contains ruins of fortress, palace (Sha’a) and other buildings from the 13th – 14th centuries, when it was the capital of Warsangali Sultanate.
  • Maduna – Sanaag. Medieval city, founded in the 15th or 16th centuries. Old city includes several hundreds of drystone buildings, large mosque.
  • Merca – Shabeellaha Hoose. Ancient port city, established in the 5th century AD. Whitewashed buildings at the sea form picturesque skyline. Earlier city walls surrounded the historical center, fortified lighthouse – Jamia tower – rises above the city.
  • Mogadishu Old City (Hamar Weyne) – Banaadir. Historical center of Mogadishu – important port city since the 1st century AD or earlier. Old buildings are located at the ocean, forming an impressive waterfront, there are remnants of city walls.

Fortifications

Taleh Fort from above, Somalia
Taleh Fort from above / "Africa Through a Lens", , 1919 / Open Government Licence
  • Almnara Tower – Banaadir. Massive tower in the center of Mogadishu, built in the 15th century. Structure served as a lighthouse and fortification tower.
  • Botiala Fortress – Bari. Old, massive fortress rising above the Botiala town and port.
  • Taleh Fort – Sool. Enormous fortress, former administrative center of Dervish state, constructed around a group of Dervish tombs. Constructed in 1910 – 1912.
  • Wargaade Wall – Bari (?). Ancient (possibly – 2000 years old) fortification wall built from dressed stones around Wargaade settlement, 230 by 210 m large. Abandoned after the coming of Islam.

Mosques

  • Fakr ad-Din Mosque – Banaadir. Old mosque in Mogadishu, built in 1269 from marble, coral stone and glazed tiles. Building has sophisticated design.
  • Old Arba Rukun Mosque – Banaadir. Possibly the oldest mosque in Mogadishu, built in 1260. Its round tower rises 13.5 m tall and is built from coral stone.

Described landmarks of Somalia

loading map - please wait...

Lamadaya: 10.990195, 48.543400
Daallo Frankincense Forest: 10.788524, 47.266641

Last decades have been very hard for Somalia. Country has experienced devastating civil war and poverty, there is a possibility that this large country can divide into smaller countries.
These events have "closed" Somalia for general tourism and most people in the world don’t realize how incredibly rich is the cultural heritage of this country. Highlights of Somalia are:

  • Prehistoric and ancient cave paintings. Somalian cave art belongs to world’s best prehistoric art, here are hundreds of sites with beautiful and often – mysterious paintings and undeciphered signs.
  • Ancient port cities. Today Somalia has some of most feared pirates in the world but millenia ago it was known for its welcoming, rich port cities which were attracting ships even from the present day Indonesia and Malaysia. Many of these ancient cities have been preserved up to this day.

Featured: Lamadaya

Lamadaya - base of waterfalls. Somalia
Lamadaya – base of waterfalls / Abdirisak, / CC BY-SA 3.0

There are many waterfalls – perennial and persistent – in Cal Madow mountains. One of most impressive is Lamadaya, one of the rare waterfalls which flows throughout the year.

Recommended books

The Last Camel: True Stories of Somalia


THE LAST CAMEL is a collection of stories about the people who live in a little village in Northern Somalia. These are compelling tales about African spirits, clever women, untouchable Midgaans, sagacious elders who struggle with modern technology, bandits, and a few goats. The stories are embellished; each one illustrates a special aspect of Somali culture. The tales are told by a young American Peace Corps teacher who lived alone in the village of Arabsiyo in Northern Somalia in the late 60s.

Somalia tour


Africa has regained one of her giant nation in tourism. Somalia in tourism may sound outrageous to many outsiders, but the reality is that this once infamous land is now open for tourism, receiving a huge market. The popular war movie titled Black Hawk Down has effectively embedded a very disreputable stereotype in international media…

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