The Aden water tanks in Tawila gorge

The Aden water tanks or Cisterns of Tawila are a symbol of the long and varied history of this city. The city of Aden locates at the Gulf of Aden in the south of Yemen. Parts of the city located on a peninsula shaped by an extinct volcano. The old part of the city called Crater district. Of course, the location is the volcano crater on the peninsula.

The volcano rim forms the Shamsan Mountains. The peak called Jebel Shamsan. With 555 m the highest point around Aden. From northwest to southeast the crater still exists and is visible from afar. However, on the opposite, the crater is open in the direction of the Indian Ocean.

Besides the main function of the cisterns in ancient, they are back in focus. Today they have a lot of attention. The cisterns frequently visited by locals and tourists as well. Especially on weekends families come here for a walk around.

The Shamsan Mountains are a rocky and craggy landscape. The Tawila gorge is a natural gorge. However, the gorge has shaped from volcano lava. The gorge locates in the southeast of Aden’s oldest district Crater. The lower end called water tanks or the Cisterns of Tawila. Only this end is handmade. The cisterns have a long history. From 53 cisterns only 13 still exist today.

Aden’s cisterns hewed into the natural environment of the volcanic rock. In addition, at the tail end, walls made from bricks, bridges and walkways have constructed. Actually, the facility is a water reservoir. Constructed by linked tanks from various shapes and capacities. Finally, the Aden water tanks impede that rain collected from the crater sloops flow through the Wadi Tawila. The tanks not only protected Aden from floods. Anyway, they used as water storage in the dry season.

Sanaa, One Thousand and One Nights

Sanaa, the capital of Yemen locates in the west of Yemen. The city surrounded by craggy, cleft and rocky landscapes. The mountains are part of the Central Highlands. Up to the present time, the capital is the largest city in Yemen. Taizz and Aden follow and are two other important Yemeni cities. The city has a very long history.

With around 2300 m. the city is, even more, one of the highest capitals in the world. The climate in Sanaa compared to Aden is very pleasant. Due to the high elevation of the city the average temperature is relatively constant and raises not so much. However, the sun is bright and strong. Even the city surrounding mountains, the environment is very dry. However, in the Central Highlands sometimes rain is possible.

The Bab Al-Yemen is more than 1000 years old and of course, a landmark for Sanaa. The city is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Even more, Yemen is the land of skyscrapers.

A walk through the old city of Sanaa is amazing. Of course, we visit the historical city with unique architectural characteristics. Some of the oldest skyscrapers in the world have their home here. One of the gates to the centre of the old town is the Bab Al-Yemen (the Gate of Yemen). Many of the houses in Sanaa resembled ancient skyscrapers. All built from clay bricks. Even if Shibam is the famous city of the skyscrapers, Sanaa can easily keep up indeed.

So far, not only Sanaa’s skyscraper turns me back in time. The Souq al-Milh is also part of the old city. The bazaar with spices, Arabic handcraft and its unique lifestyle remind me of something. Indeed, the stories of “One Thousand and One Nights” came suddenly back into my mind.

Yemeni Desert and Central Highlands

A journey from Aden across the Yemeni Desert and Central Highlands to Sanaa the capital of Yemen is a great adventure. It’s still early in the morning. The clouds have not vanished yet. The clouds hanging in the valleys and the view looks like from an airplane. The sun has not yet risen too much in the sky. However, impressive is the sunlight, with its long shadows on the rocks.  The morning sunlight puts a veil of pinkish tint on everything.

The altitude of some of the peaks is more than 2000 m up to 3000 m in the highlands. During the daytime, the sun is bright and strong. Due to the hight, the temperature is pleasant. However, during the night the temperature drops below the freezing point. The Highlands has a spectacular landscape of lava rocks, sandstones or extinct volcano cones and sand dunes.

The journey across the Yemeni Desert & Central Highlands is an exceptional trip. The towns and villages turns back in history. The simple life of the Yemeni and the fascinating landscape shifts into another time.

The landscape reminds a little of pictures from planet Mars. Mostly oleander and weed are the only vegetation in the landscape. The area is craggy, cleft and exceptionally dry and dusty. Surprisingly, in this rough climate and unpleasant environment, are still settlements. The villages build up in typical Yemeni skyscraper architecture.

Even with low or no rain, in some of the valleys is a lush green. Most of the farmland used for cultivating Khat. Coffee shrubs, vegetables, olive trees or date palms growing fine in the valleys. Shortly before Sanna, the road crosses the Nail Yislah Pass. The pass is 2770 m high. It’s the highest point on the route from Aden through the Yemeni desert and Central Highlands until Sanaa.

Aden, the city in a volcanic crater

One of the important and largest cities in Yemen is Aden. The city locates in the south of Yemen at the Gulf of Aden. Sanaa the capital of Yemen locates around three 300 km northwest. So far, Aden is an ancient city with a very long history and culture. The area is, even more, a bond between Africa and the Arabic peninsula.

A part of the city locates on a peninsula. Actually, an extinct volcano formed the peninsula.  The volcano rim forms the Shamsan Mountains. The peak called Jebel Shamsan. With 555 m the highest point around. The district Crater is the oldest part of the city and locates of course in the extinct volcano crater. Crater district is the most impressive part of the city.

Aden is an ancient city and a bonding between continents. It’s a mix of many cultures and old traditions, influenced by Asia, Europe and Africa.

It’s an amazing view into the crater with all the buildings build up to the crater rim. Even more the spectacular view to the lava shaped landscape. Since the crater is only open to the seaside, the old town can only see from the mainland. However, other districts more modern designed and industrialised.

The city locates on the Gulf of Aden nearby the approach to the Red Sea the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. The Gulf had named after the port city Aden. In fact, the Gulf connects the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean with the Red Sea. The gate between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden is the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait.,

Since the Suez Canal opened, the Red Sea connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean. It’s one of the most important shipping routes today. All the shipping from Europe to the Indian Ocean lead through the Gulf of Aden.