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.