14-day trip to Yemen

Visiting Sana’a, Wadi Dhar, Village Gabel, Baraqish, Mar’rib, Arsh Bilqis (Temple of the Moon), Mahram Bilqis (Temple of the Sun), Desert Ramlat As Sabatayn, Shabwah, Say’un, Tarim, Aynat, Shibam ( the “Manhattan” of the desert), Al- Hajjarayn, Sif, Ribat Al Mukalla, Bir Ali, Ibb, Jiblah, Taizz, Al- Makha, Tihama, Zabid, Bayt Al Faqih, Al Hudaydah, Village Assudi, Hajjah, Khulan, Amran, Thila, Hababah, Kawkabar, At- Tawila, Al Mahwit, Manakhah, Al Hajjara, Al Khutayb.

We thought that the trip to Yemen would have been more difficult due to the climate and the environment, than it turned out to be.

The matter was that, since we requested first-class services, the Italian operator should have chosen a better specialized local correspondent agency.

Not all the cars and the drivers were suitable and the local guide was nice but poorly prepared.

As a matter of fact we visited a beautiful country with unimaginable natural and monumental beauties.

For this reason, I decided to include numerous and rich photo-galleries.

Sana’a, the capital: characteristic buildings

First of all, we visited Sana’a, the capital.

It is a city full of characteristic buildings all decorated with windows embellished with stained-glass or alabaster panels.

Sana'a

Sana'a

Yemen

Sana’a, the capital: the Suk

The Suk, really beautiful, is very large and the market is still frequented by Yemenis and there are very few  tourists.

There are numerous typical shops where they sell all kinds of goods.

The Suk

The Suk

Sana’a – Yemen

Sana’a, the capital: the people

Wandering around the town we had many opportunities to take pictures of its inhabitants, always dressed in their typical clothes.

Yemeniti

Yemeniti

Sana’a – Yemen

 

Yemeniti

Yemeniti

Sana’a – Yemen

Sana’a, the capital: Wadi Dhar the “Rock Palace”, Sultan’s residence

The emblem of Yemen is the ”Rock Palace”, the Sultan’s residence located in Wadi Dhar, built atop a 50 meters high rock.

It is very nice from a stenographical point of view even because of the green valley full of fruit orchards.

Sultan's Palace

Sultan's Palace

Wadi Dhar

Sana’a, the capital: Gabel village

Close to Wadi Dar, crossing the White Butterfly Garden, we arrived at Gabel village which has numerous beautiful palaces.
Village Gabel

Village Gabel

Sana’a – Yemen

Yemen, desert area: Baraqish ancient capital of Ma’in Kingdom, Ma’rib (capital of the kingdom of Saba), dam of Ma’rib and Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon

At first, we visited Baraqish, the ancient capital of the Ma’in kingdom (400 BC).

We could visit the mighty city walls, still well preserved. In the ancient town, nowadays, there are only a small mosque, a well and a temple dedicated to the God Athar.

Then, we visited the capital of the Sabaean kingdom: Ma’rib, whose origins date back to the VIII century BC.

In Ma’rib, there are  very ancient  “mud skyscrapers”.

The importance of the Sabaean kingdom was due to the incense trade but, overall, to the dam which, with a barrage of about 700 meters, allowed to irrigate almost one hundred square km of fields.

The Sabaean kingdom ended with the disaster caused by the collapse of the dam which took place in  570, the same year of Muhammad’s birth!

Near the capital, we visited two interesting Sabaean temples: Arsh Bilqis (or Temple of the Moon) and Mahram Bilqis (or Temple of the Sun).

Old Marib

Old Marib

Desert Yemen

Yemen, desert area: cross of Ramlat As Sabatayn desert and visit of Shabwah city, ancient capital of Hadhramawt

After a night of thunderstorms, before dawn (at four a.m.), we began the journey through the Ramlat al-Sab`atayn desert. We were escorted by an experienced Bedouin, armed with a Kalashnikovs, who “checked” the sand to indicate to drivers how much they should deflate the air pressure of the jeep’s tires. The wet sand allowed us to cross the desert at high speed: even 120 km/h.

In the mid of our crossing, we met the remains of the city of Shabwah, the ancient capital of Hadhramawt, which was already famous in 700 BC for its sixty temples and its salt mines.

Shabwah

Shabwah

Yemen

Yemen, desert area: Say’un, capital city of Wadi Hadramawt, Tarim famous for its mosques, the most famous is Al-Muhdar Mosque

We reached Say’un, the capital of the Hadramawt governorate and Hadramawt is also the name of the largest seasonal river of the Arabian Peninsula .The city is surrounded by a palm grove (more than a million palm trees) and is known because the Sultan built there the most magnificent building in all the Southern Yemen.Although it was built in ochre bricks, it was completely white-washed.We visited Tarim, famous for its numerous mosques. The most famous mosque is the white  Al Muhdhar Mosque, with a more than 50-meter high minaret .The city is also known for its palaces made in  “baroque Javanese-style”, built by Sultan al- Kaf and his children when they returned from Singapore where they made ​​a fortune at the beginning of the 20th century.

Sultan's Palace

Sultan's Palace

Saywun

Yemen, desert area: Aynat, tombs called “seven domes”, factory of mud bricks

After a stop at Aynat to admire a complex of solemn tombs called “seven domes“, we made a stop at a factory of bricks made of a mud resulting from a mixture of mud, organic waste (as a glue) and straws (to strengthen the mixture).

With those brick they can build houses  as high as 30 meters, such as those of Shibam.

Aynat

Aynat

Yemen

Yemen, desert area: Shibam, city of the sandy skyscrapers

We were lucky enough to see Shibam, a town of unique beauty, with the wadi (the river bed) covered by  a fast rainwater; then a strong wind raised the tropical desert sand. The external part of the town is wonderful  while the interior has been abandoned and  flocks of goats wander undisturbed.

Shibam

Shibam

Yemen

Yemen, desert area: Wadi Daw’an, tomb of Alì ibu Hasan, village of Al-Hajjarayn, Doani Honey, Sif, Ribat, palaces owned by Bin Laden family

We began to cross the Wadi Daw’an and, as first thing,  we visited the tomb of Ali ibu Hasan, with the nearby market.

Then we stopped at the village of Al- Hajjarayn which is located on the opposite sides of the wadi. It is really beautiful the village situated on top of a rock.

Al – Hajjarayn is famous for being the place where they produce the Doani Honey (Wadi Do’an Honey) which is a powerful aphrodisiac.

We went on towards Sif and, along the way, we met numerous villages all characterized by huge and colourful palaces which were built by the native Yemeni who made their fortunes working in Saudi Arabia.

I present two sumptuous palaces (one is multi-coloured) of the Ribat village; the palaces are owned by the Yemeni branch of the Bin Laden’s  family.

Ribat

Ribat

Wadi Dawan – Yemen

Yemen, the South: Al Mukalla

The city of Al Mukalla, an important port, was famous for being the ”shining white port” surrounded by watchtowers as a defense.Nowadays, it is a white modern city where there are Indian-style houses and few houses of the Old Town located within the souk.
Al Makulla

Al Makulla

Yemen

Yemen, the South: Bir Ali with fish market and nice beach

The road to Bir Ali was long and bumpy with some desert areas.

It was interesting the fish market as well as the nearby beautiful beach where we could enjoy a great lunch of fish.

Bir Ali

Bir Ali

Yemen

Yemen, North East: Ibb with high and characteristic stone houses

We returned to Sana’a by plane to begin the journey that would take us to visit the towns and villages of the highlands of Yemen, with a stop on the Red Sea coastal area.

We visited the city of Ibb which is almost at two thousand meters above sea level and is located on top of two hills.

The old city is very interesting with its tall and characteristic stone houses.

Ibb

Ibb

Yemen

Yemen, North East: Jiblah with the tomb of Queen Arwa in the Great Mosque and White Mosque Qubbat Bayt Az-Zum

We went on to the small town of Jiblah made ​​famous during the eleventh century by Queen Arwa, buried in the homonymous great mosque which is still today a place of pilgrimage from the distant India. The white Qubbat Bayt Az- Zum Mosque is smaller than the Queen Arwa Mosque but is very beautiful.
Jiblah

Jiblah

Yemen

Yemen, North East: Taizz with Fortress, White Mosque Al-Ashrafiya and souk, on the coast Al Makha (Moka) with Yemenis of African origin

Taizz is now a modern city which is characterized by a spectacular fortress, the white Al- Ashrafiya Mosque, with twin minarets and harmonious architectural lines, and an interesting souk.

We arrived on the shores of the Red Sea, near the town of Al – Makha  (Mocha), which is the well-known port for coffee export.

We saw a well where the camel caravans came to drink: the caravans carried the coffee from the inner zone of production (Manakhah) to the coast to be shipped by sea to Europe.

Along the coast (Tihama plain) there are numerous villages built with reeds by the Yemenis of African origin.

Taizz

Taizz

Yemen

Yemen, North East: Zabid (city of the 236 mosques, now 86), once they taught there the “al-Jabr” mathematical system, that is “algebra”

We reached Zabid, the city of 236 mosques (now reduced to 86) and in each one there is a Koranic school.

In one of the “ancient” mosque, it was taught a mathematical system called al- Jabr , that is “algebra”.

The walls of the old city are still well preserved and the interior presents splendid views of everyday life.

Zabid

Zabid

Yemen

Yemen, North East: Bayt Al Faqih with ruins of a Turkish Fortress, Al Hudaydah capital of Tihama

In the town of Bayt Al Faqih we could only see the remains of a Turkish fortress and an incredible collection of plastic bags, which are present throughout Yemen, but there in huge proportions!

Al Hudaydah is the capital city of Tihama, but the only interesting thing is the visit to the rich and colourful fish market.

I wish to highlight the sharks without fins that will be sold to the Chinese and Japanese markets.

Turkish fortress

Turkish fortress

Bayt Al Faqih

Yemen, North East: farmers’ village of Assudi

Before going northward towards the highlands, we visited the farmers’ village of Assudi.

It has a rich countryside, poor houses, but beautiful people, especially children.

Assudi Village

Assudi Village

Yemen

Yemen, North East: village of Hajjah, village of Kuhlan, Amran

We arrived at the almost 2.000-meter high village of Hajjah along a road with spectacular views as well as it is wonderful the panorama which we could enjoy from atop of the citadel:  mountains with terraces on the peaks and slopes with numerous villages. In Hajjah, there are some nice palaces and interesting views .

Following a winding and extraordinary road that goes up and down several mountains, we reached the village of Kuhlan located at more than 2.200 meters, atop of a mountain.

We saw flying hawks and eagles and could enjoy the wonderful view of terraced fields and breath taking views.

After passing a Pass situated at 2.800 meters, we reached the town of Amran. It is surrounded by beautiful walls and is full of houses characterized by a stone ground floor while the upper floors are made of mud bricks.

Crops

Crops

Kuhlane – Yemen

Yemen, North East: Thila, water tank of Hababah, fortified city of Kawkabar with a view on Shibam and Thila

The town of Thila has numerous stone tower-shaped houses, recently restored.

It is dominated by a fortress.

Near the southern gate of the city there is a large water tank still very well preserved.

It is scenic the Hababah tank, surrounded by high stone houses which are mirrored in the water.

The houses and the tanks gave us wonderful views of beautiful stone houses and troglodyte caves even if the town is located in the plains unlike the other places we had visited.

With a steep and spectacular climb up to 2.850 meters, we reached the fortified city of Kawkabar which dominates the highland overlooking Shibam and Thila.

Cistern

Cistern

Hababah – Yemen

Yemen, North East: At-Tawila, Al Mahwit

The village of At – Tawila has characteristic houses built on tall cylindrical rocks.

The old town has the usual interesting views and gives us the joy of many beautiful shouting and cheering children.

Al Mahwit, town capital of the governorate, has stone whitewashed houses and is scenically interesting even because it is positioned on top of a hill.

At Tawila

At Tawila

Yemen

Yemen, North East: Jabal An-Nabi Shu’ayb, Manakhah place of the world most important coffee trade

Due to the heavy rains, it was impossible for us to follow the planned route because we could not cross a wadi. The alternative route took us under the Jabal An- Nabi Shu’ayb, the highest mountain in Yemen with its 3.660 meters high.

We crossed a 3.050-meter high Pass making a very interesting climb more than 30 kilometres long and driving through beautiful landscapes.

Manakhah is the place that was home to the largest coffee trade in the world.

From there, the camel caravans departed carrying coffee to the port of Mocha (see). The place where the trading took place has been declared a national monument.

With a picture, I show the Yemeni inventive to solve the problem of the lack of electricity.

To Manakhah

To Manakhah

Yemen

Yemen, North East: peculiar village of Al Hajjara, village of Al Khutayb (pilgrimage place for a Ismailia sect of Indian origin)

On the top of the Haral mountains, at nearly 3.000 meters above sea level , there is the picturesque village of Al Hajjara. The peculiarity of its beautiful and tall houses is that the stones are positioned one over the other without being “attached” with clay or mud.

The last visited village in the highlands of Yemen is Al Khutayb.

It is a pilgrimage place for a Ismailia sect originating, mainly, from India.

Al Hajjara

Al Hajjara

Yemen

Yemen, North East: trade and consumption of the QAT, the social drug of Yemen

I cannot close the presentation of this wonderful journey in Yemen without describing through my pictures the cultivation, the trade and the consumption of the QAT, the social drug of Yemen.

It is called “social” because it is consumed in common in the afternoon in the  ”Mafraj” , the room located in the higher place in the Yemeni houses.

The cultivation of Qat are numerous and well attended , and in the morning there is a long bargaining for the choice of the Qat quality.

The afternoon consumption allowed us to see almost all of the men with one of the two cheeks swollen in any situation.

The Cat

The Cat

Yemen