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What gingerbread houses and other masterpieces of the ancient Arab world hide: A trip to the capital of Yemen
What gingerbread houses and other masterpieces of the ancient Arab world hide: A trip to the capital of Yemen

Despite the fact that there are many amazing mosques and simply interesting buildings in the Middle East, it is believed that it is in Yemen that you can see the most valuable architectural masterpieces of the ancient Arab world. And by the way, some of these buildings have more than a thousand! This eastern country has many amazing houses - for example, bright vertical houses with flat roofs, similar to gingerbread, which are especially abundant in the capital of Yemen, Sana'a.

Perhaps the architectural diversity in these parts is due to the fact that, being on the way from Europe to Asia and being attractive local for conquerors, Yemen has absorbed the features of different cultures and religions. Forced to defend themselves from outsiders, the locals built their houses like defensive structures. In Sana'a, some of these buildings are the height of a modern six to seven storey building. However, these buildings have nothing to do with dull towers or fortresses.

A city with unique architecture

They seem to be covered in glaze

The gingerbread look to the buildings of the capital is given not so much by the even shape (like the European skyscrapers, the houses of Sana'a are rectangular in shape), as by the unusual design of the facades. Their windows (also rectangular) are decorated with shutters with lucarne and arched transoms and, like sweet glaze, are edged with white-painted stripes. The same white stripes are applied between the floors of the houses, which makes them look like gingerbread and even gives them a European look.

The houses in this city are like gingerbread

The truly "gingerbread" house of Imam Dar al-Hajar is especially richly decorated in Yemen. The uniqueness of this palace is also given by the fact that it is erected on a rock and seems to soar in the sky, which makes it seem that you are seeing a mirage.

Dar al-Hajar palace in the evening It seems like a mirage

However, other houses are quite elegant, which as a whole forms an incredibly beautiful cityscape.

How they lived in gingerbread houses

Interestingly, the lower part of such a building was usually erected from granite or basalt, while livestock was usually kept on the ground floor or used as a warehouse. The owners lived on the upper (residential) floors, which were built of bricks.

The lower floors are for servants, harem and livestock Sana'a houses

As it should be in the east, men and women were located separately (each lived in his own half), but there were also common rooms in which, for example, the owners received guests. Servants, as well as the owner's harem, were usually housed in the basement of the house.

Sana looks incredibly beautiful

By the way, the inside of bright and decorated with intricate patterns of houses is not at all as elegant as outside: unlike residents of other Arabian states, the local population is not accustomed to elegant interiors and, in modern terms, for a long time Yemenis are accustomed to living in an atmosphere of practical minimalism in the interior: smooth smooth walls, narrow corridors.

"Skyscrapers" Shibam

Another place with a pronounced distinctive architecture is Shibam, located in the Hadramut province of Yemen. This city is actually a metropolis that is 2000 years old.

Some buildings in Shibam reach a height of 11 floors, and, moreover, they are built of clay mixed with straw (albeit on a stone foundation).

Buildings of the city of Shibam

The houses are very close to each other, which visually makes Shibam even more like a modern European metropolis.At the same time, the architecture of this city is unique and recognizable in the oriental way - the houses have non-parallel walls, and upon closer inspection, you can admire the interesting carvings on windows, doors and doorways.

Unique thread

Read more about this unique city and why ancient architects had to build skyscrapers.

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