Al Hajjara – architecture of advanced civilization
Al Hajjara – architecture of advanced civilization, and breathtaking achievement of ancient architecture. The town literally hangs off the cliff face. Unexpected of course, but not if you consider that the town is built on a precipice of very limited square mileage. The only option was, indeed, up for the early Yemeni town planners. The huge care that was taken in decorating these towering structures indicates a sophisticated and advanced civilization – in fact, the oldest copy of the Qur’an has been found in this area. The engineering that must have gone in to the construction of these beautiful domiciles was advanced enough to easily rival that of Europe at the time. Many of the buildings are up to four hundred years old.
Situated at the heart of Yemen in the Al Bayda Governorate of the country, Al Hajarah boasts one of the most unusually situated structures you will ever see. The residence of the Imam Yahya Muhamamd is perched – precariously or so it seems – atop a rocky outcrop. Imam Yahya was famous for stabilizing the north of the country and for his benign attitude towards minorities, particularly Yemenite Jewry.
In order for his country to be recognized as independent he made many treaties, most notably the Ital-Yemeni Treaty of 1926 which gave Yemen full sovereignty. The country joined the United Nations in 1948 – a year before his death.
The Imam’s residence, grand and ornate belies the poverty in which many of the country’s population exist. The country itself is just over half a million square kilometers. Although it is on the Arabian Peninsula many would not think of a country like this having islands but, in fact, Yemen has over two hundred (more of one later).
It is the only republic in the area – and one of eight in total in the Arab World. It is thought that around twenty percent of the population live on just over one US dollar a day. It is, then, a poor country, but not one without its advantages.