The Old City of Taiz: A Great Historical Heritage for the Nation [Archives:1998/35/Culture]

August 31 1998

Taiz was a central basis from which a volcano exploded for shelling the towers of tyranny and oppression. Its vital role was to recieve thousands of young men from different places of the world, arming them with weapons and experience and then sending them for combating the reactionism that refused the revolution. And again in about one year it contributed in another important part to liberate the south of Yemen from British colonialism.
Formerly, Taiz was known as Odana. The name Taiz came into existence in the Al-Rasulyde age.
The old city of Taiz lies on the north of the Saber mountain. A long time ago, this towering mountain supplied Taiz with a great amount of water as well as fruits and vegatables. Equally, this lofty mountain is considered to be the main producer of the most important indispensable tree, called the Qat tree.
For its excellent location, Taiz was almost a pleasant home for so many Arab kings, foriegn rulers and so forth. They settled down in Taiz, ruling it for many decades. By turn, these kings brought into being very many great buidligns and institutions such as mosques, schools, museums and palaces.
Those kings and rulers were either Arabs, Yemenis themselves or Turkish. Now there are many Turkish people who cut off all their relations with their own country and settled down in different regions of Yemen.
Architectural Heritage
The old city of Taiz has many architectural landmarks well worth mentioning.
Seeing the old city of Taiz, one cannot fail to notice its significant and unique constructions either in their heights, beauty, colour or decorations.
In fact, this old city is well-known for its rare ancient monuments. It has many famous mosques built over a thousand years ago.
Such mosques like, Al Modhafer, built by the king Al-Modhafer, is considered to be a central facility in the old city of Taiz. It beautifies the city with its charming ornamentations.
Most people of Taiz prefer to pray in the Al-Modhafer mosque, particularly on Fridays afternoon prayers.
Similarly, Alashrafia mosque is the most beautiful heritage in Taiz, a vast mosque consising of catchy emblishment and colours. A part of it is used as an institution for teaching children. It is visited by many tourists who spend many hours gazing at this historical landmark.
The Sheikh Abdul-Hadi mosque is another famous mosque in the old city of Taiz. It is said that Al-Sheikh Abdul Hadi Asudi is buried in a dome in this mosque. It is no exaggeration to say that it is the biggest mosque in the whole of Yemen. Today, people from all over the country visit his shrine, cleaning it, slaying sheep, praying and reading chapters from the Holy Quran to seek God’s forgiveness.
Other architectural landmarks in the old city of Taiz are the huge gates. These gates used to be closed at night and opened again in the morning. They still remain today. In short, we can enumerate some of them, Bab Mosa which was leading to vital and important regions such as Makberat Alogamat, Almosla and Al-Mukha road.
Bab Al-Madager is another important gate, it borders the old city from the north. While Bab Al-kabir borders it from the west.
Indeed they are important and ancient edifices which the authorities should take care of.
But unfortunately, these ancient monuments are about to be ruined.
In this respect, we cannot forget to mention some of the palaces in this old city such as Dar Al-Mahmola, Dar Al-Shayana, Dar Al-Bostan, Dar Al- Otaba, Dar Al-Nour, etc.
These unique buildings were inhabited by the kings and rulers. However, poor people are living in them now. They usually rent them from the government.
It should be noted that treasures are found from time to time in many quarters of the old city of Taiz. Ten years ago, people found huge pots full of gold and silver and also coins in one district of the old city.
Markets in the Old City
The old city of Taiz has remarkable markets (suq). For example, the Al-Shanini suq sells special things which you will fail to find in any other market. It is the suq of all spices, foods, drinks, traditional clothes, ancient masterpieces and some conventional furniture. It is also remarkeble for its cheese which is brought from nearby villages.
The Al-Markizy suq is another that the old city has, it is a central market suppling the people with almost all their needs. This suq has many shops and restaurants which are well known for their traditional dishes.
Likewise, it has many shops selling silverware, traditional clothes, madar, and dishes made of stone. Moreover, it is the only suq from which you can buy good dates. Tourists visit these markets to have some photographs taken, and also to buy silver and the traditional clothes.
There are big differences between the dialects of the people in the old city of Taiz and the dialect of other regions of Taiz. One can easily recognize whether the speaker is from the old city or another part of the city. They actually speak a simple and clear language. While speaking, they often omit the letter “L” from words.
Thus, the old city of Taiz is distinguished by its unique architectural heritage. It has all the qualifications of a beautiful and historical city. It is gifted with marvelous weather, unique buildings and friendly people. It is a fruitful branch in the lofty tree of the Arab history. It really needs someone to preserve its historical identity.
By: Haifa Yahia Qanbar,