City Mayors presents the Africa's living historic cities

Contributions by:

World Heritage Centre
League of Historical Cities

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Historic Cities: Introduction
Historic Cities: Western Europe
Historic Cities: Eastern Europe
Historic Cities: The Americas
Historic Cities: Asia
Historic Cities: Africa

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Historic Cities / Living Cities in Africa
Edited by Tann vom Hove, Artwork by Kevin Visdeloup

'Historic Cities – Living Cities' in Africa already includes historic towns and cities from eight countries. The series will be developed further and we are inviting readers to submit additional examples of today’s thriving cities with a historically significant past. Please email the editor with your suggestions, inserting Historic Cities in the subject line.

| Introduction | Western Europe (A to K) | Western Europe (L to Z) | Eastern Europe | The Americas | Asia & Australia | Africa |

On this page:
Algeria | Egypt | Ghana | Kenia | Libya | Mali | Morocco | Tunisia |

League of Historical Cities says: The capital city of Algeria is located on the Mediterranean coast, set against forested mountains and overlooking a bay. The modern city of Algiers is formed of two parts. The lower part is the French-built new town with wide boulevards, and all the cultural trappings of colonialism like an opera house, cathedrals, theatres, museums. The Casbah or old city forms the upper part of Algiers, replete with labyrinthine passageways and a 16th century walled fortress. (Current population: 1,520,000)

League of Historical Cities says: Alexandria was named after Alexander the Great, who ordered the foundation of the city in 332 BC Alexandria, often referred to as "The Bride of the Mediterranean," is the largest port in Egypt and the headquarters for the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office for the World Health Organization. (Current population: 3,380,000)
Islamic Cairo
Situated within modern Cairo, Islamic Cairo, founded in the 10th Century, is one of the oldest Islamic cities.

League of Historical Cities says: Presently the capital of the Republic of Ghana, Accra was the capital of the Gold Coast, a British colony, from 1876 until 1957. Since its founding, the city has served as a centre of European Africa and has also played a major role in African ethnic activities since the late 19th century. (Current population: 560,000)

Lamu Old Town
Unesco World Heritage says: Lamu Old Town is one of the oldest Swahili settlements in East Africa. Built in coral stone and mangrove timber, the town is characterised by the simplicity of structural forms enriched by such features as inner courtyards, verandas, and elaborately carved wooden doors. Lamu has hosted major Muslim religious festivals since the 19th century, and has become a significant centre for the study of Islamic and Swahili cultures.

Old Town of Ghadames
Unesco World Heritage says: Built in an oasis, Ghadamès, ‘the pearl of the desert’, is one of the oldest pre-Saharan cities and an outstanding example of a traditional settlement.

Old Towns of Djenné
Unesco World Heritage says: First established in 250 BC, Djenné developed into a market centre and a link in the trans-Saharan gold trade. Some 2,000 of its traditional houses, built on hillocks, have survived.

Unesco World Heritage says: Founded in the 9th century and home to the oldest university in the world, Fez reached its height in the 13th and 14th centuries under the Marinids, when it replaced Marrakesh as the capital of the kingdom. The urban fabric and the principal monuments in the medina – madrasas, fondouks, palaces, residences, mosques, and fountains – date from this period. Although the political capital was transferred to Rabat in 1912, Fez has retained its status as the country's cultural and spiritual centre. (Current population: 450,000)
Unesco World Heritage says: Founded in 1070–72 by the Almoravids, Marrakesh remained a political, economic and cultural centre for a long period. Its influence was felt throughout the western Muslim world, from North Africa to Andalusia. It has several impressive monuments dating from that period: the Koutoubiya Mosque, the Kasbah, the battlements, monumental doors, gardens, etc. Later architectural jewels include the Bandiâ Palace, the Ben Youssef Madrasa, the Saadian Tombs, several great residences and Place Jamaâ El Fna, a veritable open air theatre.
Unesco World Heritage says: The walled city was founded in the 11th Century as a military settlement. Subsequent rulers have turned Meknes into a Spanish-Moorish city.

Unesco World Heritage says: From the 12th to the 16th century Tunis was regarded as the wealthiest city in the Islamic world. Today, some 700 monuments testify to the city’s glorious past. (Current population: 600,000)
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