Habb Fort: Infinite beauty [Archives:2006/1001/Last Page]

November 23 2006
Hab fort is located on a hill known by locals to be Rock Mount and it is part of the geographical features of Yemen
Hab fort is located on a hill known by locals to be Rock Mount and it is part of the geographical features of Yemen’s middle area. PHOTO BY HAMDAN DAMMAG
By: Nashwan Dammag
Habb Fort, which is as old as the age, stands like a great mountain – or at least it's described as such in a local song. Not a legend, but rather a fact existing in a place whose qualifications disallow such a fact; it records the story of Yemeni man's existence in his land.

Journeying to Habb Fort need not be guided and begins by ascending eastward. Once past Ibb city, one encounters Badan Mountain overlooking it and seeming as if it's going to destroy the ancient city situated at its feet.

It doesn't matter if one stops at the peak of Badan Mountain or at the last turn in the road to gaze at the city beneath, which deserves such a look and a promise to return. It seems to be the painting of one who isn't born yet, while its surroundings are nothing but a heap of ash.

Moving amid its green meadows, time loses all meaning because Badan's valleys are capable of making one forget the hour. The greenness penetrates deeply into one's very depths, to the point where this greenness is felt within the heart. Whenever a beautiful sight disappears, another appears and the peaks on the horizon blaze with the colors of the sky. Such sights are endless until one reaches the fort in unwanted haste.

At this point, one must prepare for another ascent, but on foot because there's no road leading to the fort's only gate. Visiting Habb Fort is an opportunity to escape the noise of the city and all of the other things belonging to urban life. Once there, try to forget that you're a visitor or a tourist and simply live the moment as if you reside among those who lived there and made its civilization and history.

In the beginning, the view is unclear because there's nothing indicating the fort's existence over the hill, as the view from below yields nothing but a chasm surrounding the hill on the north and partly on the west, thereby prohibiting anyone from getting into the fort. For this reason, it wasn't walled.

The view begins to change as one takes the winding path leading to Habb Fort's only gate. Seeing the wall overhanging the edge, one questions how its inhabitants were able to bring such a great amount of stones to such a place and thereby creating such a beautiful scene. Although built long ago, the fort's wall still stands and remains strong.

Famous historian Al-Akwa'a says, “Habb Fort is one of Yemen's most fortified and impenetrable forts. Additionally, it's appealing to the eye and famed for the great historical events that occurred there and its important role in such events.”

He adds, “It stands alone, as if it was a preacher, with numerous beautiful villages and hills spread around it. Further, it faces Al-Taker Mountain, where it's said the Qail Thou Ru'ani was buried.”

Situated atop a hill locally known as Rock Mountain, Habb Fort is part of the geographical features of Yemen's middle region. It consists of two main areas: the fort itself and a small slope known as the garrison located in the south.

The fort has a high and oval shaped wall built of stone cubes over the mountain's rocky edges. The wall contains two-story round towers full of small openings from which to observe and shoot.

Habb Fort's entrance is a two-story structure with curved windows on the second story's upper wall. The entry is a wide opening with a semi-circular curve overlooked by a window built from stone blocks. With a two-layer wooden door, the entrance leads to a corridor overlooked by the second story's stairway entrance.

The western side has a wide opening with a semi-circular curve leading to Habb Fort's field, a rectangular east-west area whose surface isn't plain. Within the fort are numerous buildings distributed throughout.

The eastern part of the fort appears to be its ruling center, as the entrance and most buildings are situated there. This section also contains various types of construction, particularly a three-story house with two entrances – one on the east and the other on the west.

In the north is a cistern covered in a cement-like material called qadhadh. Mud and stone remains, believed to be old buildings, also exist in the northern section, as well as a hot-water bath, whose upper portion has collapsed.

A small building thought to be a prison lies east of the three-story house and to its left are grain stores primarily consisting of a rocky cave with a northern entrance covered by a stone and qadhadh block. The cave is divided into several rooms separated by rock walls without entrances, compensated for by 11 small openings dug at the top of the cave, each with a special number. The fort also contains other stores.

Another small one-story building with semi-circular carvings and two entrances is believed to be a camel stable, while a small mosque lies west of the three-story house with an open field, in the center of which is a square-shaped stone prayer house. Additionally, the area between Habb fort's entrance and its mosque contains several cisterns.

In the western end of the fort is a three-story building, most of which has collapsed, and against this structure is a square building on the fort's wall thought to be a military barracks.

Habb Fort's garrison is the highland area south of it, where numerous stores, water tanks and cisterns are located. Further, the fort contains the remains of a tower, as well as some tombs.

Habb Fort still is unknown to many people both inside and outside Yemen. It must be looked after because it's capable of attracting many visitors and tourists if turned into a modern tourist site, as was the case with Dar Al-Hajar in Wadi Dhahr north of Sana'a.