Old City of Sana’a, glory and pride (Part II) [Archives:2004/702/Last Page]

January 12 2004

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
Sana'a is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world architecture wise. The city in spite of the days maintained its beauty and style, which is a very old style aged thousands of years, known as the “Garden Islands”.
The palaces and the close intact buildings in a distinguished manner attract the visitor to discover worlds of creativity and splendid artistic beauty. The buildings are built with stones carefully sculptured of red rock and mud. Most of the houses are three stories or more and each story contains many beautifully decorated verandas and colored glass.
Its mosques are also another attractive aspect with their high minarets and shining white domes, especially the great mosque which is considered of the most important mosques in the whole country, and which has gone through various phases of architecture styles. For the great mosque is the oldest and the first mosque built in Yemen in the time of prophet Mohammed (mpbh) in the sixth year Hijriya. The mosque was initially built in very simple fashion and has gone through phases of renovation to match with the styles of the times to eventually look as it is looking today.
Sana'a as a city has a hidden touch of beauty symbolized through its liveliness along with its obvious beauty through its architecture. There are various structures composing the city, there is the Samsara which is a place where travelers stay over night and where goods are stored, the market places, the steam Turkish baths, schools and mosques, all together making this city fulfill all demands that could come from the people or the visitors. All these monuments form together or individually a rich heritage that narrates historic stories and legends.
Gates and historic names for Sana'a
Sana'a managed to maintain a number of names throughout its history some which are still known and used even today. Such as City of Sam, who was son of Noah the prophet (mpbh) and whom is thought by historians to be the founder of the city.
The city was also known as Azal referring to one of Aad's – a famous historical tribe mentioned in the Quran – grandsons, and from this the Sabai name “Yazil bain” was composed. The city is also termed in the ancient engravings as “Tasana'a” which means protected, and in the old places it is still called “Masana'a” which means the protected and defying town in high places.
Sana'a is also recognized as the city of the nine gates, as the old city of Sana'a used to be surrounded by a fence with nine entrance and exit points. These gates are: Bab al-Sabah, Bab al-Balaqa, Bab al-Qa'a, Bab al-Room, BabSatrat, Bab Khuzaima, Bab Sho'oob, Bab al-Shaqa'if, and Bab al-Yaman which is the main and most famous gate of the nine and which is the only one still intact as it was built by the Ottoman leader Ahmad Faidhi Pasha in 1316 Hijriya.
The city was heavily protected due to its strategic location especially that it was a continuous target for invaders.