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Sana'a lies in the heart of Yemeni highlands on a plateau at an altitude of 2200m surrounded by several by mountains notably Jabal Nugum and Aiban. The city is around 320 Km north of Aden.
Sanaa is one of the ancient Yemen cities dating date back to the Sabean dynasty. The oldest reference to it existence is found in inscriptions which date back to the 1st Century AD. It is suggested that Sanaa was the capital of the Himyarite kingdom at the onset of the 6th Century AD.
As of the dawn of Islam until the detachement of independent sub-states in many parts of Yemen Islamic Caliphate, Sanaa persisted as the governing seat, who himself is Caliphs deputy in running the affairs of one of Yemens Three Makhalifs: Mikhlaf Sanaa, Mikhlaf Al-Janad and Mikhlaf Hadhramawt, The city of Sanaa recurrently assumed an important status and all Yemenite States competed to control it.
The Mamelukes arrived in Yemen in AD 1517. Following the collapse of the Mamelukes in Egypt at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, Yemen fell under the Ottoman Rule and during the first Ottoman rule of Yemen between 1538–1635 Sanaa became the capital of the Ottoman Vilayet and also during the Ottaman second rule 1872–1918. In 1918, Sanaa was the capital of Imam Yehya, who ruled North Yemen. At the onset of the 1962 revolution which desposed the imamate rule, it became the capital of the Arab Republic of Yemen. It was then the capital of unifed Yemen in 1990 where it is dubbed as the historical capital of Yemen.
Attractions and Culture
The old, fortified city has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years and contains a wealth of intact architectural gems. It have been declared a World Heritage City by the United Nations in 1984. Efforts are underway to preserve some of the oldest buildings, some of which are over 400 years old. Surrounded by ancient clay walls which stand six to nine metres (20–30ft) high, the old city boosts over 100 mosques, 12 hammams (baths) and 6500 houses. Many of the houses look rather like ancient skyscrapers reaching several storeys high and topped with flat roofs, they are decorated with elaborate friezes and intricately carved windows. One of the most popular attractions is Suq al-Milh (Salt Market), where it is possible to buy not only salt but also bread, spices, raisins, cotton, copper, pottery, silverware, antiques, and a host of other goods. The majestic seventh century al-Jamial-Kabir (The Great Mosque) is one of the oldest in the Muslim world. Bab al-Yaman (Yemen Gate) is an iconized entry point through the city walls and is over 700 years old.
Cultural Arab Capital
Sana'a was designated as the Arab Cultural Capital for the year of 2004. Notable cultural activites included a musical concert by the European Philharmonic Orchestra of Magdeburg, Germany.
Quotes and Impressions
"La budda min Ṣanʻāʼ" (Sanaá must be seen) are famous words first attributed to Imam Muḥammad ibn Idris al-Shafiʼi (768–820) who visited the ancient capital several times.
Many travelers in ancient days were impressed by the beauty of Sanaá. The well-known Yemeni geographer and historian Al Hamdani marveled at the cleanliness of the city:
The least dwelling there has a well or two, a garden and long cesspits separate from each other, empty of ordure, without smell or evil odors, because of the hard concrete (adobe and Cob probably) and fine pasture-land and clean places to walk.
It is the city of Yemen—there not being found ... a city greater, more populous or more prosperous, of nobler origin or more delicious food than it ...