The Great Mosque, Mali

Where space represents the capabilities of many

The adobe city of Djenné appears like a mirage in the Mali desert, with the Great Mosque rising up from its heart. The entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but there's a special reverence for the Great Mosque. It was built around the 13th century but is, to this day, rebuilt annually by the people of Djenné, constructed in a mixture of local materials, including mud, sand, and river water. It was designed as a place of worship, with prayer halls and lofty minerettes designed to reach heavenward, but it's the construction that says the most about the people who worship there—the village comes together after each rainy season to replaster and repair the mosque. Though the form of the mosque has morphed over decades of annual replastering, its design persists as a testament to the people's enduring devotion.