Ruins of Loropéni, Burkina Faso
What appears to be a scattered array of walls at first glance is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The walls may not be impressive to look at until you learn of the history behind these walls. The Ruins of Loropéni have stood untouched for hundreds of years and have many mysteries yet to be discovered.
What are the Ruins of Loropéni?
The ruins are situated near the borders of Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo. They are huge walls made of a local red stone, which form several large enclosures. Inside these large enclosures are a few smaller structures of houses or watchtowers. Some of these walls reach heights of 8 meters high. They may have initially been even higher since the ground was perhaps one or two meters lower when the walls were first built in the 11th century. These ruins are the best preserved of 10 fortresses in the Lobi area. These walls have recently shown to be at least 1000 years old.
This settlement was occupied by the Lohron or Koulango peoples, who controlled the extraction and transformation of gold in the region from the 14th to 17th century. This site was finally deserted in the early 19th century. Since then, nature has taken its toll on the walls of Loropéni. Many years of harsh wind, rain, and bushfires have damaged the walls that remain.
It wasn't until 2009 that the Ruins of Loropéni were declared as a UNESCO world heritage site. This is the first World Heritage site within Burkina Faso. The 11,130 square-meter property was home to 10 fortresses in the Lobi area. The Loropéni ruins once guarded a fortress that no longer exists. As of yet, there is still a lot of mystery that surrounds this site since much of the archaeological site hasn't been excavated yet.
What should you know before you visit
Loropéni is on the way from Gaoua to Banfora. You'll find the city of Gaoua in the South- Western part of Burkina Faso. Gaoua is around 6 hours away from the capital (Ouagadougou) by bus. If you plan on visiting, I'd recommended that you take a rented car to the ruins. You could also take a motorcycle but make sure you're prepared for the dusty 40-kilometer ride you'll be on! When visiting the ruins, having a guide can do you a lot of good. There's no shortage when it comes to finding a local tour guide who'll take you to the ruins and show you around.
This World Heritage site is quite important, being the first in Burkina Faso. It was believed that the title would fuel further research and excavations in Loropéni. We don't know the discoveries that are yet to be uncovered at this historical site. Still, it's worth paying a visit if you want to experience one of the many historical sites Africa has to offer.