Loropeni ruins: The mysterious walls of Burkina Faso

Africa Zainab Sulaimon
Roaming
Loropeni

The ruins of Loropeni may not be the most attractive site to visit, but they are sure to catch your attention and earn a special place in your heart because of the labyrinth of its walls and the atmosphere of the area.

About the Walls

Located near the town of Loropeni in southern Burkina Faso, the mysterious Loropeni walls are part of a larger group of about a hundred stone built circumvallations. They share borders with Ghana, Togo, and Cote de’ Ivoire and they seemed to have come into existence a thousand years ago. These walls played an important role during the trans-saharan gold trade. The area was famous for the mining of gold between the 14th and 17th century and as a result of this, the walls were believed to have been built as a fortress for the surrounding area that served as a house for the gold miners and a storage place for the mined gold.

The surroundings of the ruins were occupied by the Koulango or Lohron peoples who were in control of the extraction and transformation of gold in that region. The settlement seemed to have been abandoned and deserted during the 19th century, hence not much information is known about this site.

The Layout of Loropeni

The walls are made up of laterite stones which are mostly found in tropical climate zones. The ruins of Loropeni spans across 2.5 acres of uninhabited land and the walls are as high as 20ft in height and 4metres apart in width. Structurally, the ruins have suffered some form of weakness and some exterior stones have been lost due to its exposure to tropical rains and rough winds, rodent activities, vegetations growing against the walls, frequent bush fires during the dry season and rising damp during the rainy season. Although extreme temperature cycles might have dealt with the structure of the walls, about 80% of it still stands and a lot of work has started going into the preservation of what remains to prevent further disintegration.

Preservation

The Loropeni walls are the best preserved of ten similar fortresses in the Lobi area. In 2008, the World Monument Fund (WMF) placed it under its watch and a conservation plan was developed. Also, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the Ruins of Loropeni as a world heritage site in 2009. UNESCO is responsible for the unification of many nations by ensuring stability and peace through the preservation of humanity, culture, and education. These mysterious walls earned Burkina Faso its first world heritage site and it is hoped that this will propel further research and archeological excavations.

Tourism at Loropeni

Due to the non-availability of adequate information about the mysterious walls, visitations have been met with quite a number of disappointments. The tour guides lack enough facts to relate to tourists, there are no amenities (especially where consumables can be purchased from) like kiosks, a mall, or a market around, so a tourist visiting has to come prepared. Also, there is no electricity and hotels around, so visitation has to be before dusk. The entrance fee into the fortress is about a thousand five hundred (1,500 CFA franc) and an additional 500 CFA if pictures are to be taken. There are hopes that the mysterious walls will become a major tourist attraction once excavations reveal more historical facts about them.