YEMEN FACTS       PLACES TO VISIT        HOTEL GUIDE          TRAVEL HINTS         DIVING TOURS           EMBASSIES             

AL ZAHRA TOURS

  Socatra Expedition :                  The fame and historic important of Socotra dates back to the begining of holy . .  

                            Read more

 Language Travel  An Arabic language course  in Sana'a, the "Pearl of  Arabia " !

                                    Read more

 Trekking Travels: 8,11,15 Days trekking program : Yemen Mountains .  . .

                                   Read more

 Cultural and adventure tours : mini tour, intense, scenic Yemen , compact programs . . .

                                   Read more

Alzahra.Tourism, Agency (ATA)
Sanaa Republic of Yemen
P.O.Box: 23132
Tel.: 00967 1 24 40 40
Fax : 009671 240393
E-Mail: alzahra.tours@y.net.ye
E-Mail: alzahra.tours@gmx.de
Internet : www.alzahra.de
Internet : www.al-bab.com/alzahra

PLACES TO VISIT

Wadi Dhahr,Taiz, Al-Raudha,Manakha area,Al-Hoteip,Al-Mahweet,Ibb,Shibam Sana'a,Kawkaban,Thula/Hababah,Al-Tawilah,Al-Hodeidah,Al-Hajarain Beit Al-Faqih,Al-Khokha,Al-Makka,Kamaran Island,Yufrus,Seef,Baraqish,Sumara citad Wadi Hadhramaut,Wadi Dhabab,Djiblah,Dhafar,Al-Udein,Shaharah,Al-Mukalla Habban,Shabwa,Bana Valley,Shibam in Hadhramaut,Damt Sa’yun,Tarim,Wadi Dau'an Huraidha,Al-Khrayba,Aden,Marib,Rada,Hajjah,Kohlan,Saada,Al-Mahara

Sana'a

Sana'a, capital of the Yemen Republic, is said by the Arabs  to have been founded by Noah's son Shem. Its Great Mosque, one  of the oldest in the Islamic world, was founded in the 7th century during Mohammed's lifetime.

Fragments of the mosque date from pre-Islamic times, and although it has been restored many times, the building which  remains still shows evidence of Sabean architectural  technique.

What to see in Sana'a  today

The Old City: This contains houses which are more than 400 years old, built of dark basalt stone and decorated with  intricate friezework. The old city wall is extremely well preserved.

Suq al-Milh: The best time to visit Sana'a's main souk is  in the morning or between 6 and 7 pm, when it is full of activity. The name Souk al-Milh means Salt Market, but actually a wide variety of goods are on sale, such as spices,  vegetables, corn, qat, pottery, raisins, copper, woodwork and clothing.

The National Museum is located next to al-Mutwakil mosque, about 100 metres north of Tahrir Square. The House of Good  Luck (Dar as-Sa'd) in which it is housed, was once a royal palace dating from the 1930s. The museum contains artefacts  from the ancient kingdoms of Saba, Ma'rib, Ma'in and Himyar,  and is open daily from 9 am till 12 noon and from 3 till 5 pm.  Fridays: mornings only.

Wadi dhahr

A fertile wadi, about 15 km north of Sana'a, with small  villages and clay-walled orchards, which grows grapes,  apricots, peaches, pomegranates, and nuts. It is also renowned  for a beautiful five-storey rock palace, Dar al-Hajar, which  belonged to the Imam Yahya during the early part of this  century.

The palace was built on the ruins of a prehistoric building  and is now government property. It remained empty until 1990,  when a renovation project commenced. Occasional visits are  possible by special arrangement.

Al-Raudha

Literally the garden city of Sana’a, interesting the architecture of the Imam Gasim Mosque from the 17th cent. and the rural clay houses made in the Sana’a style and the  vineyards, every Sunday - market. 

Manakha area

Manakha an important Turkish stronghold in days gone by and  the center of the Haraz region with the 3000 m high mountain Djabal Shibam.

Al-Hoteip 

An important picturesque village, nestling in the  mountains; goal of the Ismaeli pilgrims. Here you find the  grave mosque of Da’I al-Hatem Ibn Ibrahim al Hamdani, an ismaelitic saint of the 17th century. Walking to / from Al Hoteip, pilgrimage place of Ismaeli sect.

Al-Mahweet

The city of Al-Mahweet is the capital. It is 181 kms to the  north west of Sana'a and 2050 m high above sea level. In this province, there are villages the mountain summits reflecting how human beings could overcome the rigidity of nature. And  among the important historical villages on the way to Sana'a are:

Shibam Sana'a

Situated at the foot of the mountain below the stronghold  of Kawkaban, Shibam was once the capital of a small, independent highland state. Ancient inscriptions can be found on the stones of the city gate and in other old buildings of the town. In the nearby mountainside, which rises to a height of 2850 m, there are man-made caves.

Kawkaban

An important stronghold during the Turkish occupation of lower regions of the Yemen, Kawkaban served to protect the  town of Shibam below. It is built at the summit of a 350-metre  cliff and the town's inhabitants were often evacuated there during times of crisis. Kawkaban is about an hour's walk from  Shibam, by means of a paved footway, starting from behind the  main mosque.

Thula/Hababah

A village of pre-Islamic origin, situated along the ancient  spice route, about 9 km north of Shibam. There are many  remarkable examples of stone architecture, including tower  houses, well-preserved   aqueducts and splendidly carved water cisterns near the northern and southern  gates.

Thula is built at the foot of a mountain with a fortress at  the summit. Near to Thula, village Hababah with its impressive  cisterns.  

Al-Tawilah

A typical mountain village on the way to the coast - a once  famous centre during Turkish rule, visit of the city with its interesting old stone houses and souk. 

Al-Hodeidah

The most famous harbor of Yemen in the Red Seas and a  widely known fishing region throughout the history of mankind.  It was used during the 15th century as a ship-fleet depot after which it expanded from a small village to a local port.  Later, one of the Sultans defeated the Portuguese, and made the port free of their control. In 1961, the port was  re-constructed to become a modern one.

Beit Al-Faqih

Situated 60 kms from Al-Hodeidah on Taiz-Hodeidah road,  this was during the seventeenth and eighteenth century the storage station of the coffee crop, which used to be exported  from Al-Mokha harbor. During those periods, the town prospered  through expansion of its dwellings and variations of its  activities. Christine Yanbour, a famous foreign explorer in  1763 A.D. described it by writing: "It was the biggest  commercial market in the world for coffee". He saw numerous businessmen of Europe there, together with others from Persia, Turkey, Morocco, India, and other countries, carrying out commercial transactions. It is distinctive in its buildings  being constructed out of plain red bricks. Its people are known to wear short skirts known locally "Al-Lahafat", which are the male costumes of the inhabitants living in all coastal  regions of the two Asian and African continents.

Zabid

Traditionally a centre of Islamic learning, Zabid was the  site of an important early Islamic seminary and there are still over 80 surviving medrese-mosques within the city, with more on the outskirts. The narrow streets are flanked with traditionally decorated houses with a prevalence of brick and  stucco. Like those of Hodeida, the buildings of Zabid are rarely more than two or three storeys high, with the exception of the Governor's Palace. Founded, or reconstructed and  enlarged, in the early 9th century when the city became the capital of the Banu Ziyad dynasty, Zabid kept its importance for seven centuries, until the Turkish conquest. There is  still a large Koranic school attached to the Great Mosque, but the importance of Zabid has declined considerably in recent  years.

Al-Khokha

This coastal town receives tremendous tourist attraction since it is the most beautiful coast spot of the Arabian  Peninsula. Fishing village with palm woods along the Red Sea, swimming is possible, facultative boat cruise in the Red Sea,  diving possible. 

Al-Makka

In the 17th and 18th century this was a flourishing trade  port and main transfer place for the coffee export. Impressive  landscape along the coast between Al-Khokha and  Al-Makha. 

Kamaran Island

The biggest Yemeni Island after Socotra, widely populated. There are various rare animals in the area.

Taiz

A town situated in the northern foothills of Jebel Saber (Mount Sabir). The former palace of Imam Ahmed is now a  museum. The city walls and gates, Bab Al Kabir and Bab Mosa,  are worth a visit. Its most important mosque is the Ashraffiya, with its two decorated minarets, the Mudhaffariyah  mosque. The souk is particularly fascinating and unique because of the unveiled mountain girls who come every morning  to sell their goods.

Al-Djanad –  Mosque

It is a tiny village north of Taiz, at a distance of 23  kms. At Al-Janad, there is the Janad mosque, which is the second mosque built in Yemen.

Yufrus  

It is a tiny village where Sheikh Bin Al Wan tomb exists,  and from which it derives its importance.

Wadi Dhabab

This fertile subtropical oasis is situated between Taiz and  Yafrus. Every Sunday the villagers of this region meet here at  the market. 

Ibb

Ibb, 192 kms to the south of Sana'a, and 2337 ms above sea level, is the most evergreen city in Yemen. It is surrounded  by Mount Ba'dan, which is considered to be a real beauty and charm as an evergreen environment. The important areas in  Ibb are:

Djiblah

Situated 8 km south of Ibb, on a hill of basalt between two  connecting wadis, this is another former capital of the Yemen  from the Middle Ages. It was once the chosen capital of Queen Arwa bint Ahmad (1067 A.D. to 1138 A.D.) who ruled here for  almost 70 years. The Mosque of Queen Arwa is also her  tomb.

Dhafar

17 km from Yareem city, was the capital of ancient Hymiarate state, founded on Mount Dhu-Raidan. Some remains of  it are now being housed in the Dhafar museum.

Al-Udein

An area 40 kms away from Ibb, and famous for coffee  agriculture.

Sumara citadel

This is situated on the summit of Mount Sumara and is 2800 m above sea level.

Bana Valley

A wide area with numerous pure water fountains, and  mountain-sulphated hot water.

Damt 

There exist a number of sulphated hot water fountains. Nowadays, work is under way to establish a natural health  center in the area.

Wadi Hadhramaut

This is the largest wadi in the Arabian peninsula. Situated  about 160 km from the coast, it follows an east-west route for about 160 km through the desert. The wadi bottom drops to a  depth of about 300 metres. The region is very fertile and the local population lives on arable farming and goat-herding. There are several archaeological sites in the region, which  show signs of early settlement before the 3rd century A.D. Situated in this cultural landscape are the three cities Shibam, Sa’yun and Tarim. 

Shibam in  Hadhramaut

It is called Safra'a, and the "Manhattan of the desert" by the German explorer Hans Hellfritz. Its houses are considered the first skyscrapers of the world. Here you find loam houses  with 8 floors, 500 years old. After the destruction of Shabwa in the 3rd century A. D., its habitants fled to Hadramaut and founded the city of Shibam. From 1983 Shibam has been under special protection from the UNESCO.

Sa’yun

The biggest in size of all cities, or towns, of Hadramout, with houses surrounded by green line of wide parks and gardens, together with, date-farm yards and forests. One of its well-known features is the Sultanate Palace known as "the  Revolution Palace". It consists of five floors each divided into several rooms, and accessories. It has been transferred  into a cultural center, archeology museum, and a traditional  museum for handicrafts and costumes. Another monument is the Al-Ghalas castle which is one of the industrial complexes for wooden crafts, clay-pots manufacturing and leather  industries.  

Tarim                                                                                                           Tarim is situated 35 km west of  Seyun City and has  been the spiritual centre of the Hadramaut since its heyday between the 17th and 19th centuries. At that time young men  used to come from all over the Arabian Peninsula to study the holy scriptures. More than 300 mosques and religious schools  developed to control the teaching activity, though most are now closed. The teachings of orthodox Sunni Islam are still  taught in Tarim. Many of Tarim's buildings date to a building boom in the 19th century when successful Arabian traders returned with their riches from enterprises in Southeast Asia. The minaret of the al-Midhar mosque, is remarkable. 64 metres  high and square rather than round, it is built of mud bricks. Unfortunately the mosque is now closed to non-Moslems.

Wadi Dau'an

There are several branch wadis in Hadramout such as Wadi Dau'an, Al Ayn Wadi and Amad. Dau'an is considered to be the most important and famous of all since there are many attractive villages along both banks of the Wadi, which are  considered excellent examples of architecture in Yemen.

Al-Hajarain

It is one of the most beautiful Yemeni villages and the  most beautiful village in Hadramaut. It is the oldest village  in Wadi Hadramaut over-looking groves of palm trees.

Huraidha

Located at the entrance of Wadi Amad, and on the east side of this city, there are ruins of the temple of Goddess Seen, the main Goddess of old Hadramaut Kingdom.

Seef

This village pilgrimage is made to the tomb of Shaikhan Bin  Ahmed on 8-12th of Rabie Al-Thani every year.

Al-Khrayba

This village was a main centre for old Yemeni caravans between the coast and the valley and is 157 kms to the west of Seiyun.

Al-Mukalla

This is a seaport and fishing centre in the southern part  of the Hadhramaut province, and was founded in 1035 A.D. as a  fishing village. The beautiful white buildings in the old town  are of interest to visitors and there are several impressive  mosques, notably ar-Rawdha and the Mosque of 'Umar. Outside  the town a small fortress, Husn al-Ghuwayzi, can be seen on the top of a cliff.

Aden

Aden is a natural port, built on an old volcanic site and  first used by the ancient Kingdom of Awsan between the 5th and 7th centuries B.C. The port's convenient position on the most important sea route between India and Europe, attracted the  attention of the rulers of many ancient kingdoms, all of whom  sought to possess it at various times throughout history.

Things to see and places to visit in Aden

The Tanks of Aden: 18 cisterns dating from the 1st century A.D., when they were probably built by the Himyarites. Situated high above the oldest part of the city on the volcanic slopes, these cisterns can store  up to 45 million litres of water.

The National Museum: Situated in  Crater, the old part of the city, the museum was once a sultan's palace and contains many interesting archaeological finds, and the Ethnographical Museum

Marib

The capital of the Sabean Kingdom dates back to the fifth  century B.C. and one of Yemen's most impressive archaeological sites. There are two dams worth a visit: the ancient one, dating from about 10 B.C., and the modern one built in 1986. An area about 2 km south-west of the old town is the site of  the ancient temples of the Queen of Sheba.

Ancient Marib Dam: This is considered the symbol of Sheba kingdom and its dominant emblem, as it reflects the zenith of its power, while marking at the same time its  downfall. The Marib Dam in brief is considered the most famous archeological monument of Yemen, and the greatest technically  constructed object of archeology ever constructed on the  Arabian Peninsula. Two of its main controlling water banks are  still in good shape today.

Ancient Temples of Marib:

a) Bilqis Shrine: The most famous and important temple of  Marib, with its original name "Awam Temple", and generally  called by the ancient Yemenies "Al-Shams (the sun) Temple". The latter was the worshiping goddess of "Al-Maqa" - a term in the language of Sheba, which meant the moon. Its design was  planned as an oval-form of building surrounded by a  fencing-wall built from rocks and stones. 

b) Baran Temple: This is generally known today as the  "Throne of Bilqis". Till now, only few of the huge stone pillars related to this and above mentioned temple has been positioned in the desert sands of Marib.

c) The region of Serwah: There are ruins of archeological  sites. This area is situated 120 kilometers east of Sana'a. It was first taken by the Sheba kingdom as capital of rule, and has the biggest ancient Yemeni sculptures and inscriptions collectively known as the "victory" engraving design. Marib  also has today its own revivals because of the construction of  the new

Marib Dam, after the 26  September Revolution, close to the ancient one. There are among others petroleum and agricultural projects that are  currently being carried out in the province. 

Baraqish

The most impressive of all Yemen's ancient sites. Its  fortified city wall is 14 metres high and is constructed from a beautiful calcite stone, mined from neighbouring Djebel Yam and carefully carved into blocks. Some of these massive blocks are also to be found in one of the city's temples. Near the  city there is a considerable expansion of irrigated land. The alluvium carried by old canals has been deposited in the surrounding fields to a depth of 12 metres. This area is dissected by numerous water gates, and from a hilltop vantage point one can easily trace the path of the ancient canals.

In ancient days, Barakesh was known as Yathil and is first mentioned in a text written in the 5th century B.C. At this  time, Barakesh was one of three major caravan cities - the others being Main (ancient name Qarnaw) and As Sawda (ancient Nashan). It was also the closest city to the spice route.  Barakesh was one of the cities which defied the Roman army led  by Aelius Gallus in 24 B.C., around the time of the collapse of the Minean Kingdom. This collapse did not mean that the city was abandoned; it was mentioned in Sabean text between  the 1st and 3rd centuries A.D. There can be no doubt, however, that its period of splendour was certainly over. The city of  Barakesh remained inhabited during the Middle Ages, but it seems that it was abandoned at the end of the 18th century.  This fact is borne out by archaeological findings of ceramics and other ancient artefacts, which were discovered under houses which had simply been built over older sites. Today the ruins of Barakesh represent the most spectacular of Yemen's  archaeological sites. 

Shabwa

In Shabwa province, the most important historical and  tourist sites are:

- Cities and towns as Beihan, Habban and Azzan;

- Beir Ali coast; and Al-Radhm natural swimming bath, to which the hot mineral-water springs are flowing down, and are  known to cure some skin diseases and/or infections. On the  other hand, the province is today one of the petroleum  locations in the country. There are many international firms exploring crude-oil, which are