Ruins of Loropéni – Poni, Burkina Faso - Atlas Obscura

Ruins of Loropéni

Poni, Burkina Faso

These mysterious 1,000-year-old walls have revealed little about their past. 


These stone walls have stood for at least 1,000 years, towering above an otherwise flat territory. As of yet, the ruins have revealed little about their past, as much of the archaeological site has yet to be excavated.

The walls that stretched around the 119,800-square-foot site once guarded a fortress. It’s believed the fort was used by the Lohron or Koulango peoples, who were part of the powerful trans-Saharan gold trade.

The settlement reached its peak between the 14th and 17th centuries, which were toward the end of the trans-Saharan gold trade’s prime. The site was abandoned sometime in the 19th century, and has largely been left to nature’s whims.

Already, bits of the settlement have been lost to time. Centuries of wind, rain, and bushfires have weakened the walls that remain.

In 2009, the ruins of Loropéni were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the first World Heritage Site within Burkina Faso, and it’s hoped this prestigious title will fuel some funding for further research and excavations.

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