Old City of Sana’a, Yemen

One of the world’s oldest cities, Sana’a in Yemen has been continuously inhabited for more than 2500 years. The city, which translates as “fortified palace,” is a work of beauty in and of itself and is still one of Arabia’s greatest treasures.

Sana’a was created by Shem, one of the sons of the Prophet Noah (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ ), according to Yemeni folklore, however the exact year of its founding is uncertain.

The walled city, which is distinguished by its rammed earth and burnt brick tower-houses, has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years and is the location of the pre-Islamic fortress of Ghumdan, a 20-story palace thought to be the first “skyscraper” in history.

It is now Yemen’s capital city after serving as the caliphs’ administrative center during the early days of Islam. With 106 mosques, 12 hammams (bathhouses), and 6,500 homes constructed before the 11th century, it has a strong Islamic legacy.

You will experience a sense of time travel as you pass through the famous “Yemen Gate,” the only one of the city’s seven medieval gates that is still in place.

Within the old city walls, more than 6,000 buildings from before the eleventh century lie, packed close together and connected by a complex network of narrow streets and alleyways, like an elaborate piece of art in a vast open-air museum.

The city has miraculously preserved its historical aura and magnificence throughout the years and escaped modern architecture’s ravages, preserving a cozy rhythm between its ancient architectural fabric and the demands of modern life.

In 2020, the UN-Habitat noted that more than 1,000 years ago & preceding most of the world’s cities, the old city of Sana’a presented a model of green architecture in its 6,500 buildings, constructed with local environment friendly materials, such as stones, mud, baked bricks, wood & gypsum.

The multi-story buildings of Sana’a’s architectural legacy include geometric shapes and horizontal bands rendered in gypsum, as well as exquisite minarets, imposing monuments, narrow lanes, and urban gardens.

Sana’a’s typical homes can have up to nine floors. Typically, the top levels are constructed of lighter brick and the lower ones of stone. Gypsum is used to outline the windows, which include fan lights made of alabaster or colored glass that are supported by gypsum tracery.

The stained glass windows on the homes and structures of Sana’a’s old city sparkle at night.

One of the oldest mosques in the world is the Great Mosque of Sana’a (Arabic: الجامع الكبير بصنعاء, al-Jāmiʿ al-Kabīr bi-Ṣanʿāʾ), which is located in Sana’a, Yemen. According to legend, the mosque was established in the first century of the Islamic calendar, maybe around 633.

About 15 kilometers from Sana’a, near Wadi Dhar, is the former royal palace known as Dar al-Hajar. It was constructed in the 1920s as Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din’s residence. Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din ruled Yemen from 1904 to 1948.

The ruins left behind after the structures are destroyed won’t be hazardous to the environment or human health. The old city of Sana’a was built using a technique that prioritized the creation of sizable green spaces in the 69 or so community centers and surrounding areas.

There are gardens (Mqshama) in every neighborhood, and the old city of Sana’a as a whole has about 40 gardens (Mqashama). These gardens served to guarantee the self-sufficiency of vegetables cultivated at home.

The old city of Sana’a developed a fantastic method for water from residential and public buildings, sewage water, as well as water from mosques, which go in a drainage system to nourish the green spaces in all the neighborhoods.

In terms of planning and design, the historic city of Sana’a still has a lot of environmental characteristics that might be used to contemporary construction. Additionally, Old Sana’a has embraced the use of environmental concepts, more recently termed as green building methods.

Flooding, war, and prosperity have all caused harm to the city’s architecture, which has since been destroyed and rebuilt. The city’s architectural fabric wasn’t actually in risk of dying until the modernization of the 1970s.

From the architectural point of view, Yemen is the most beautiful country in the world, and Sanaa is Venice of the Arabia, according to the Italian author and director Pier Paolo Pasolini.

A global initiative to preserve the city was started by UNESCO in the early 1980s at the request of the Yemeni government. The city of Sana’a received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1995 and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

Ibn Rustah noted in the eleventh century that Sana’a’s architectural language was fully developed and that the majority of the dwellings were “are adorned with gypsum, baked bricks, and symmetrical stones.”

Ten buildings in Sana’a’s historic old city, which dates back to ancient times, have just collapsed due to heavy rainfall. For the benefit of future generations, this stunning ancient architecture must be preserved.


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