History and loreAl-Taweelah cisterns show Aden’s glory [Archives:2005/823/Culture]

March 10 2005

Ismail Al-Ghabiri
They have a history that is inscribed on the face of Yemen, an ever-remembered civilization. It is the city of warmth, magic and beauty Aden.

In this city that everyone visiting even as a passersby gets infatuated with it.

Here in Aden – the city of legends – everything is possible, even if it is impossible. That is because it has the legends of all the tales of “One Thousand Nights and a Night”. In Aden, legends and superstitions had been weaved since ancient times.

One of these legends says that Qabeel who killed his brother Habeel in India feared his father's (Adam) wrath so he fled to Aden and lived on the mountain of “Seerah” that surfaces the town of Aden from the eastern direction, and is one of its most prominent tourist and historical landmarks. He lived there happily.

The legend adds that the end of the cosmos will begin from Aden, too, as an awful fire erupts from the bottom of the well that is found in Seerah Mountain till the Day of Judgment. It is narrated that The Prophet (PBUH) said the hell-fire will erupt from Aden on the Day of Judgment.

Though the legends and tales related to Aden are many, they are not only the most important things experienced in this wonderful city. It is the magical nature made by the rare shores and gulfs that surround the town from three directions, which makes it a voluptuous bride.

Besides, its location in the middle of the path among different continents of the world as it has an ancient civilization that qualified it to be the destination of various races and tribes of different religions. These people got affected by the city and affected the city as well, forming a unique society that mostly has civil and religious tolerance. With this, the town became the place where civilizations and religions meet.

Today, it has so many important and alive impacts of the people who lived in it. For instance, the churches, temples shrines and diors, and, before these, the historical mosques that assured the Arabic and Islamic identity.

Of the most important historic landmarks in Aden is its wall of stones and lime for the purpose of protecting the town from thieves and bandits. The history of this wall dates back more than 1,000 years.

Along this wall stretch the castles and forts built for special protection and watching. At the bottom of “AlH-adeed” mountain situate the “Bughdatan” that are two tunnels leading to the town of Aden.

These two tunnels are of the alive witnesses of the greatness and ability of the Yemeni man in making up tunnels using primitive methods and ways, but with geometrical methods that are so accurate, which assures that ancient Yemenis were pioneers in such important landmarks that the Yemeni ancient civilization is rich with.

From the other side of Aden, and specifically the old town, are the Cisterns of “Attaweelah” which go back to the “Awsanyyah State” era and considered to be one of the greatest old kingdoms.

This kingdom's authority is expanded to include the shores of the Arab Sea and the Red Sea. It had such a large navy that the shores of the Red and Arab Seas were called the “Awasanian Shores” relating them to this kingdom.

The cisterns in Aden number of 53, built with stones as they were used for storing the largest amount water possible, so as to provide the people of Aden with water as they suffered lack of clear water sources.

Meanwhile, these tanks were used as a protection from the flow of floods that might come from the peaks of great mountains. These tanks have a capacity for 20 million gallons of water, which was among the greatest achievements the ancient Yemenis made.

According to the ancient inscriptions, the water of theses tanks was considered by the inhabitants to be sacred water. The French expert in the systems of irrigation (Sierge Bians) said the “Attaweelah Tanks” that still only around 13 tanks of the whole number of 53 tanks are considered to be of the rarest and greatest facilities in storing and draining water in the world.

The town of Aden was know from long time ago as an important commercial and sea port, as it played prominent and important roles in the prosperity of trade between the East and the West.

The depth of its seaport and the quietness of its air currents helped it play these vital roles. But, unfortunately, this port today has just some remnants of the old one, especially, after the establishment of the new internationally famous port in 1847, after a few years from the British occupation.

The Yemeni authorities have been working hard since the unification in 1990 so as to restore life to the Port of Aden which was well-known internationally. Many parts of the city were converted to a free zone. The Yemeni authorities rely mostly on the port of Aden and the Free Zone to revive the trade and economic activities in the country.

Over the last 14 years following the Yemeni unification, the city of Aden experienced growth and unprecedented urban expansion.