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World's Most Beautiful Buildings

Great Mosque, Djenne, Mali

Corbis Bridge / Alamy

Great Mosque, Djenne, Mali

In sub-Saharan Africa’s oldest city, Djenne, you’ll find a monumental mosque built from mud bricks (and held together with more mud) by the Dogons, an African people who use mud as ancient Romans used marble. Mosques have been built on this site, the center of what was once a prosperous trading city, since the 13th century A.D.; the present Great Mosque, overlooking the market square, dates from 1906. Each spring, local masons maintain the mosque by applying a new layer of mud.

Ornament: Each of the mosque’s towers is topped with the local form of architectural decoration, an ostrich egg, symbolizing fertility or good fortune.

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