26.09.2013 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

City of Agadez in Niger, a new UNESCO World Heritage site

Historic Center of Agadez ©CRAterre/Thierry Joffroy

The historical center of Agadez, the most important city in the northern part of Niger, has been included on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. This city, also known as The gateway to the desert, is a major transit area between Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa.

The historical center, divided into eleven districts and inhabited by 20.000 people, embraces a stunning palatial and religious complex. The mud brick Mosque is crowned by a 27m high minaret made out of adobe (the highest mud brick minaret in the world).

Comes in a difficult time

For the past several years, the unstable situation in the region has had a negative impact on tourism in the city. The inscription on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List therefore constitutes a major asset for the region, its residents, and the international community, particularly because the inscription comes at a time when the Sahel Region is experiencing an intense crisis in which culture and heritage play a huge part.

“It has really been a long wait, both for the local population and anyone who wants to protect the legacy and the splendor that lies in our city of Agadez,” explains Rhissa Feltou, Mayor of Agadez.

The legacy of a crossing point

Between the 15th and 16th centuries, the Aïr Sultanate settled in the Agadez Area. This settlement demonstrates the significance of Agadez’s strategic position at this time in the area. Agadez’s diversity of architectural styles proves that the city was for centuries, and is still today, an important human and commercial crossroad.

To preserve this legacy and this common material wealth, the World Heritage Committee has conveyed to the Nigerien State its requests and expectations regarding the site of Agadez. Indeed, if the attention devoted by the sultanate helps preserving the religious center, the heterogeneous complex of habitations has yet to follow the new standards which come with the new status as a World Heritage site.

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