Old City of Sana’a

Old Sanaa, UNECSO World Heritage Site since 1986. Credit:
Old Sana’a, UNECSO World Heritage Site since 1986. Credit: Rod Waddington, wikipedia cc.

If located elsewhere, this beauty would go hand in hand with Paris, Venice, Amsterdam and Florence. Unfortunately Sanaa is located in Yemen. You would risk your life traveling there.

The Ancient City of Sana’a is one of the oldest populated places in the world – continuously inhabited for over 2,500 years. And other than old cities such as Jericho, Aleppo or Faiyum, she still got something to show. Sana’a is capturing people’s imagination – an incredible piece of engineering. It perfectly documents early urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction. As a tourist you would be in awe when experiencing the distinctive architectural character, most notably expressed in its multi-storey buildings decorated with geometric patterns. You would witness an extraordinary density of 1,000 year old burnt brick towers rising 50 meters up into the sky. The buildings are richly decorated with patterns of fired bricks and white gypsum. Within the city, minarets pierce the skyline. Spacious green gardens are scattered between the densely packed houses, mosques, bath buildings and caravanserais.

Dar al Hajar, residence of Imam Yahya. Credit:
Dar al Hajar, residence of Imam Yahya. Credit: Antti Salonen. wikipedia cc

The site was inscribed into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1986. In the 7th and 8th century the historic part of Sana’a became a major centre for the propagation of Islam. As of today 103 mosques, 14 hammams (public spas, traditional bathhouses), and more than 6,000 houses are still standing as they did before the 11th century. Old Sana’a is an outstanding example of a homogeneous architectural ensemble. It reflects the spatial characteristics of early Islam. The city in its landscape has an extraordinary artistic and pictorial quality. Its many-storied century old buildings represent a perfect response to defensive needs in providing spacious living quarters for the maximum number of residents within defensible city walls. The buildings demonstrate exceptional craftsmanship in the use of local materials and techniques.

All this ingenious architecture is in danger because for decades, the war torn people of Sana’a are simply fighting for their survival. Nobody really cares about the historic value of a building.

Old City of Sanaa. By Chili & Chirp | © International Destinations | Read more about Sanaa here -> Forbidden Gem Sana’a