Hajjah: A city shakes hands with clouds [Archives:2005/882/Last Page]

October 3 2005

Completed by:
Yasser Al-Mayasi
Eshraq AL-Bodigi
Yemen Times Staff

The governorate of Hajjah is about 127 km northwest of Sana'a. Most of it is in the mountain range and the rest in the Tihamah coastal plain. The city of Hajjah is the capital of this governorate, and lies on top of a mountain 1800 meters above sea level. It is surrounded by the mountains of Al-Sharaqi Maswar and Bait Adhaqa from the south and Kohlan Mountain from the east.

Hajjah overlooks the areas of Bani Qays, Wadi Mawr and Tihamah from the west, and towering over Hajjah are the mountains of Al-Shaghderah and Najrah from the southwest, and the mountains of Al-Dhafeer and Mabyan from the north. Citadels and forts surround the city, the important of which are: Jahesh, Naman and Kahera Forts.

Hajjah was a stronghold of the revolutionaries at the Imamic era. It was also a grave for many of the fighters against the last tyrannical Imam.

Most people of the Hajjah Province work in agriculture and cattle breeding. Hajjah is reputed for growing coffee beans, fruits and various cereals, but also tobacco and palm trees are commonly grown in the plains. There are many craft products in Hajjah Province, among them are palm-leaf rimless hats made with great detail. These hats are sold at high prices because of the many hours of labour needed to make each one. It is chiefly made in Al-Mahabesh, 70 km northwest of Hajjah.

Traditional customs and folk arts

The traditions and daily lifestyles show great diversity between the mountain and plain communities and from region to region. The diversity is visible in clothing, some wear Jambiah hats, others Khayzaran hats or straw hats. The communities also have different styles of music and dances, and these diversities can best be seen in the weekly souq, which is an important tourist destination particularly on the coastal plain.

The coastal plain of Hajjah

The coast offers many points of interest to tourists, such as the villages of thatched huts, along the Hajjah-Haradh road and the Wadi Mawr. These villages and towns are particularly beautiful as they are peculiar to the prevalence in the mountainous area. The main building materials are thatches exactly like African-Style oval huts that are lavishly decorated on the inside. The most beautiful of these villages are in the Abss Area.

The archaeological citadels in the governorate

Kohlan Affar citadel

About 85 km from Sana'a and 2500 m above sea level, is one of the most fortified ancient citadels in Yemen. This is obvious when you see all the foundations, forts, towers and cisterns made to supply water to the defenders. This citadel is the most ideal fortification in Hajjah. A weekly market is held on Mondays in the Kohlan Affar region.

Al-Kahira citadel

The Al-Kahira citadel overlooks Hajjah from the eastern side, and was established during the first Ottoman rule of Yemen. Ottoman influences are quite visible in the architecture of both the citadel and the older houses of the town. The citadel has a huge fenced structure, which makes it naturally closed in from all directions. It only has one entrance and during the rule of Imam Ahmed (1948-1962) the citadel turned into a dreaded prison. Today it is a tourist attraction.

Washha Mountain Range

This mountain range is parallel to the Al-Sharafain mountain range in the north. The most important peaks are the Al-Muwashah, Al-Qara and Qoushar mountains, with average altitude of 2500 m above sea level. The mountainous region around Hajjah province with all its valleys, beautiful agricultural terraces and hanging villages are all of a remarkable architectural style. They are among the most beautiful places for hiking, mountain climbing, hang gliding and trips for watching flowers.