Amran: Governorate of agriculture and antiquities [Archives:2005/885/Last Page]
COMPILED BY YASSER AL-MAYASI
YEMEN TIMES STAFF
AND ESHRAQ AL-BODIGI
FOR YEMEN TIMES
Amran Governorate consists of many historic and archaeological cities and sites among of which are:
It is one of the important cities situated on the historical trading route known as As'ad road. The city overlooks the vast farming area of Amran known as Qa'a Al-Boun, and is 50 km to the north of Sana'a near to the asphalt road leading to Saadah, at the crossroads leading to Hajjah in the northwest.
Amran's old city was encircled by a clay rampart, most of which still exist together with the old eastern gates. The features of the old market are still visible. There are many stone inscriptions at the entrance of the city and on the facades of some houses, suggesting that Amran was one of the important sites in Yemen's ancient history.
Amran is not only known for its distinctive architectural style, but also for the variety of crops, which are grown there. The city is considered to be one of the centers of traditional crafts, particularly leather works. In Amran, Friday is the weekly market day where these crafts can be viewed.
Shaharah lies to the northwest of Sana'a. At the gateway of Shaharah, the visitor can easily understand how important it has been as a war-fortified position. It was constructed on two separate mountains. There is also an old school teaching various subjects of Arabic language and religion.
It is one of the main famous citadels of Yemen throughout history. It still has got an atmosphere of invincibility and is swarming with inhabitants. It is connected with the Al-Ahnoum range of mountains. This fort has got a historical and archaeological standing. The first to adopt Shaharah as a fort is the famous Hymiarate king Abu Karab Asa'ad Al-kamil.
From this fort, he was a candidate for rule at the onset of the 5th century AD. In recent history, the Imama Al-Mansour Al-Kassim Bin Mohammed took the citadel of Shaharah as his citadel in the war against the Ottomans during their first rule of Yemen from 1538 AD to 1635 AD. This happened because of the important strategic location of the citadel on Shaharah Mountain, its affluence of water and the natural fortification that made it unconquerable from all directions. The citadel is divided into two sections, Shaharah Al-Ameer and Shaharah Al-feeth. Each of them is at the top of a mountain with a steep 200 meter deep gap between them, and connecting the two parts is the Shaharah Bridge. The more than 300 year old bridge is three meters wide and 32 meters long, and built entirely out of stone. It shows how skillful and courageous the engineers were in connecting the two mountains at high altitude. They did it to make movement and communication easier during the siege.
Today, Shaharah fort is considered to be one of the most important tourist attractions in Yemen due to its linkage with historical town of Shaharah and its many surrounding sights. Shaharah is considered a genius example of architecture that is heavily dependent on stone structure.
Raida is situated 22 km to the north of Amran on the Amran-Saadah road and is the ancient town close to where the Tulfum Castle existed, as is pointed out by the renowned Yemeni historian, Al-Hamdani. It was said that Raida is the area, which is mentioned in verses of the Holy Qur'an as “the Hanging Castles”. There are no surviving historical hallmarks in the city and one can only see scattered stones that give reference to a long-gone era. Yet, the archaeological site of Na'et is near to Raida. A weekly market is held in Raida every Tuesday, with another held 2 km away to the east at Bait Harash.
Na'et is situated 25 km to the east of Raida across an unpaved path. It is an important archaeological site standing on top of Jabal Thaneen, historically known as Na'et. It is one of the components of Sam'ai historical triangle site, together with Shibam Aqyan and Shibam Al-Gharass. The triangle flourished during the decline of the Sheba dynasty in Marib, before the capital of ancient Yemen was moved from Marib to Dhafoar Al-Molk “Yareem”.
Many historical castles and water reservoirs were said to have existed in Na'et but nothing seems to have survived. Many antiquities from the area were moved to Sana'a.
Polygonal pillars, some of which are 5-6 m high, are from the Dome of Imam Yahya south of Dar Al-Saadah, which are in use in the National Archaeological Museum, while others have been installed by the gates of Dar Al-Hoom, presently called Al-Wahda school.
Dhofar Dhibain is located approximately 30 km to the north east of Raida across an unpaved path. It got its name because of the Dhofar archaeological fort, which stands to the northeast of Dhibain. The fort has many ancient remains and Islamic monuments, such as forts, castles and reservoirs, in addition to one of the most important monuments, the mosque.
The mosque and minaret of Imam Abdullah bin Hamza was built as a school at the onset of the 13th century AD, and houses bin Hamza's tomb. Dhofar Dhibain's mosque is considered one of the most significant historical mosques in Yemen because of its architectural beauty and the decorations on the walls and pillars. Particularly the decorations of the cylindrical shaped minaret which features symbols in the shape of snakes facing each other, which is an unfamiliar and rare depiction in Yemen's decorative style and could be found in the Seljuk decorative styles of the 13th century.
Khamer lies 22 km to the north of Raida along the Saadah road and is an important archaeological site. Khamer is considered to be the original place of the Yemeni king As'ad Al-Kamel, the most famous of the Hymiarate kings. Many great cultural traditions have been attributed to him.
Houses in this area are beautiful, high-rise structures built in stone. A weekly market is held in this area every Sunday.
Hooth is located 124 km from Sana'a, mid-way between Sana'a and Saadah. From there the unpaved road branches out to Shaharah, across Al-Qabea'y.
Hooth is one of the localities, which was developed as a religious, intellectual school and is considered to be the largest secondary city between Amran and Saadah. Nashwan Bin Sa'eed Al-Hymiari, the famous Yemeni scholar, lived here, and a weekly market is held every Friday.
Hooth has many famous mountains. The Rameedh Mountain overlooks Hooth Mountain and is located to its southeast. The Dhi Khairan Mountain is located to the north of Hooth and is dividing Soufian, Udhur and Osaimat, while the Red Mountain overlooks Al-Jawf to the north. Then there are the Al-Amashiyah Mountains, which are situated in the Sofian region. The most famous of these is the cracked mountain which consists of two pyramidal mountains north of Al-Aasshiyah.
Huqat Hamdan is situated in Hamdan area, 20 km north of the capital. It can be reached from the Sana'a-Amran Road, after which you go west across Al-Haawri village and immediately before Al-Jahiliya village, you turn left to Hugat Hamdan.
The site of the village is historically important, as it contains of relics of a temple and old inscriptions which can be seen on the houses, dating back to the 3rd Century BC. In 1931, excavations by a German expedition, led to findings of ancient treasures and masterpieces, many of which are now on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Sana'a.
Thula lies 40 km to the west of the capital, Sana'a. It used to be a fortress town of the imams in the 16th century, and is situated 2800 meters above sea level. The town is an archetype of the Yemeni stone architecture which gives it an extraordinary appearance, and Thula is the only Yemeni city encircled by a wall of stone.
Thula is only 2 km from the Shibam Kawkaban, and tours to Thula are quite common because of the incredible architecture.
Maswar Mountain Range
Maswar Mountain range lies in an east-west direction with many fertile wadis cultivated with coffee trees, and villages built on the mountaintops. Maswar Mountain is considered one of the archaeological fortified mountains, with springs run down the sides of it. The high point is quite wide with a few villages built on it. The peak has three entrances and at the very top of it stands Hosn Al-Montaab. Maswar Mountain is considered one of the highest peaks in Amran governorate, 3000 m above sea level.
Amran Governorate has many famous mountains. Among them are the Yazeed and Ashmoor Mountains. They are a chain of mountains situated to the west of the Amran area connected to Da'an Mountain and Yashboo as well as Dhofar Hashid Mountains. Their average latitude is 3000 m above sea level. There is also the Bani Soraim Mountains situated north of Raidah area, and Warwar and Dhofar Mountains situated north of Dhibain. The Na'et Mountain is the mountain on which the famous Mahfad lies. This mountain is situated to the east of Amran.