Secret Cities of Yemen
August 9, 2011 6:41 AM   Subscribe

Little-known cities of Yemen have beautiful features, such as the cliffside buildings of Al Hajjara and exquisite centuries-old architecture of Old Sana’a.
posted by exogenous (21 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
We will start in the town of Al Hajjara, so little known that even Wikipedia does not have an entry on it.

I weep for the future.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:47 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


In a less snippy vein, I really like the architectural urge that says "impassible rock? Ha, I'll show everyone, I am going to build an apartment block on you!" It's like the architectural version of mad science, only, you know, real.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:50 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


It does have an entry, just not much info...

Maybe if the Marines deploy there the wiki article will get worked on...
posted by ennui.bz at 6:54 AM on August 9, 2011


I am surprised to not see a single satellite dish.... or power line... whilst these buildings are beautiful treasures it's sad to imagine that Yemenis have not progressed since they were built.

I really like the architectural urge that says "impassible rock? Ha, I'll show everyone, I am going to build an apartment block on you!"

I think it was more of an urge of "No one can attack me if I build up there."
posted by three blind mice at 6:55 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Are we bombing them yet?
posted by Jon_Evil at 6:55 AM on August 9, 2011


it's sad to imagine that Yemenis have not progressed since they were built.

I'm not sure I would pick a satellite dish as a metric of progress....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:59 AM on August 9, 2011


Are we bombing them yet?

Yep.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:03 AM on August 9, 2011


I think it was more of an urge of "No one can attack me if I build up there."

I dunno. Only part of this structure is up on the rock, and I can't imagine it would be all the defensible, given that there's likely no water up there. I like to imagine that someone took up a challenge. The lack of land also probably helped....
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:05 AM on August 9, 2011


Speaking of water, they're probably doomed as an organized state.
posted by aramaic at 7:07 AM on August 9, 2011


How safe is Yemen for an American traveler? I assume it is not particularly safe, but I've wanted to see these cliff-side dwellings, the walled gardens of Sanaa and Socotra for awhile, but it seems dangerously unsafe for an American tourist. But then again, I've traveled in areas that were supposed to be unsafe before and never had a problem.
posted by Falconetti at 7:12 AM on August 9, 2011


Falconetti - I too have had Sanaa and Socotra on my "must visit" list, and I've also been places on the Department of State "do not visit list". I've asked around to some press people I know who have been. The sort of laughed at the idea of going to Sanaa as being recklessly dangerous. I think Socotra would be do-able - except for the fact you have to go to Sanaa first to fly there.

I've decided it's not possible. Besides I still haven't been to Isfahan - that's first on the list of places everyone thinks you are crazy to go to as an American. (yes I understand Iran is totally safe assuming you aren't unlucky enough to be there when the west decides to attack them - just that when you tell most people that's on your list of places to go they sort of look at you in shock)
posted by JPD at 7:19 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


How safe is Yemen for an American traveler?

"The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to civil unrest. The Department urges U.S. citizens not to travel to Yemen. U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should depart while commercial transportation is available. The Department of State has ordered all eligible family members of U.S. government employees as well as certain non-emergency personnel to depart Yemen. Due to the fluid security situation in Sana'a, the Consular Section will only be able to provide emergency American citizen services. In addition, terrorism remains a serious threat in Yemen."
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:19 AM on August 9, 2011


Oh also Tim Mackintosh-Smith has a travelogue from Yemen that's worth picking up
posted by JPD at 7:22 AM on August 9, 2011


I can personally recommend this travel book on Yemen. Oddly enough, I'm currently in the middle of Eric Hansen's Stranger in the Forest, which is also pretty great.
posted by bonecrusher at 7:30 AM on August 9, 2011


Socotra Island, off the coast of Yemen, is also loaded with strange and wonderful things to see.
posted by three blind mice at 7:36 AM on August 9, 2011


Sorry JPD. Just saw that you already mentioned it. Also on my wish-list.
posted by three blind mice at 7:36 AM on August 9, 2011


Until recently, Aden, Socotra and some other parts of Yemen were relatively safe for foreigners and many of my colleagues have been. I was intending to go to Yemen for a friend's wedding, but that's postponed until the situation calms down. Sanaa and much of the country-side haven't been safe for unescorted visitors for some time, unfortunately. (One of my friends had armed guards in Sanaa, and he was an Arab, the situation is obviously potentially more dangerous for Westerners, especially if they don't speak Arabic.

At the moment the whole country is really too dangerous for travel, and even worse, my supply of Do'ani honey is running low.
posted by atrazine at 8:07 AM on August 9, 2011


Beautiful country and beautiful people. I was lucky enough to work in Yemen in 2001 for 8 months. Besides all the beautiful architecture I was able to see the only active river system on the Arabian Peninsula; which is the Wadi Masilah(actually no wikipedia entry). Although it is called a wadi by the locals it has running water reaching the sea year round because of the massive geologic pressure in it's watershed. It is the last of the great rivers and lakes of Arabia that have been slowly drying up since the last post-glacial wet phase.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:01 AM on August 9, 2011


A few years ago a university student got back from a research trip to yemen. She had amazing photos and incredible stories. Made this video about it: http://vimeo.com/2401328
posted by thisisdrew at 9:21 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yemen on the Brink of Hell
posted by homunculus at 9:55 AM on August 9, 2011


Another good read on Yemen and Socotra island, from Outside magazine. The story is both stunning and harrowing.
posted by sobell at 2:35 PM on August 9, 2011


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