Home of the prestigious Koranic Sankore University and other madrasas , Timbuktu was an intellectual and spiritual capital and a centre for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its three great mosques, Djingareyber, Sankore and Sidi Yahia, recall Timbuktu's golden age. Although continuously restored, these monuments are today under threat from desertification .
The World Heritage properties situated in the northern parts of Mali have been subjected to destructive attacks since they were occupied by armed rebel groups in April this year . In Timbuktu, nine mausoleums have been desecrated , including two at the Mosque of Djingareyber, the most important mosque in the town.