OsornoTombouctou is a region of Mali and is located in the northern-most part of the area. Tombouctou is comprised mostly of southwestern Sahara Desert.

Tombouctou is located in the northern-most part of Mali and is considered to be a region. It is actually the largest region of Mali.

The southwestern Sahara Desert comprises the majority of Tombouctou. If the name rings a bell but you can’t seem to pinpoint what it is, it is because Timbouctou is quite famous for the city of Timbuktu – different spelling, similar pronunciation.


The city of Timbuktu

The city of Timbuktu is a mythical city of sorts.

How so? Well, there is actually a city by that name – Timbuktu – and it can be found at the southern border of the Sahara Desert, near the Niger River. This city physically exists but all sorts of mythical attributes surround it.

The legend can be traced back to 1930 when Mansa Musa, then the ruler of Timbuktu, went to Mecca on a pilgrimage. It is said that on the way to Mecca, he stopped over in Egypt where he behaved extravagantly by throwing gold around. It is said that he spread around enough gold that the Egyptian currency back then devalued. What happened then was not surprising – rumors started to fly around that there was this city deep within the heart of Africa wherein there was more gold than one can imagine - roofs and streets made with gold, and so on.

Today, though Timbuktu’s streets may not be paved with gold and its roofs not made of gold, the city has something to offer the rest of the world. It is home to the prestigious Sankore University as well as other Islamic schools. Perhaps its greatest contribution to the Islamic civilization, and the world in general, is its scholarship.


Highlights of Timbuktu

Timbuktu has had its share of glory in the past.

Today, it is relying on that past to keep on living. The truth is, Timbuktu is quite impoverished in the modern world. However, its reputation and past is continuing to make it one of the more interesting places to visit. In fact, Timbuktu has its own international airport!

Timbuktu is also considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site – this has been so since 1988. As such, Timbuktu holds many wonders and pleasures to the culturally attuned. On a visit to Timbuktu, one must definitely visit the two museums and an institute dedicated to the preservation of ancient manuscripts and book artisans.