Cities and Regions

Capital of Yemen in the heart of the country on a plateau at 2200meters. It has a moderate climate despite its altitude. Sana’a has a population of 1,3 million. The main roads out of the city are: Sana’a-Sa’ada going north, Sana’a-Hadida going southwest, Sana’a-Taiz and Aden going south to the Gulf of Aden. It is the seat of the governorate of Sana’a, which includes the districts of Amran, Kawkaban and al-Jawf.

Sana’a is one of the ancient cities of the world; its ancient name was Azal. When the Ethiopians invaded in the 5th century they called the city Sana'a meaning well fortified. Some claim it was named Sana’a after a descendant of Noah by the same name.

Sana’a is a commercial and industrial city, traditional hand crafted items are still made here such as silver daggers and swords; modern manufacturing is mainly plastics and household supplies, textiles.

Sana’a University was founded in 1970 and enrolls 25,000 students.

The old city is surrounded by high clay walls. Some of the houses within the walls are 400 years old and are being preserved. There are 12 public baths (hammam), and about 100 mosques in this area. Souk al-Milh which means Salt Market, where a wide variety of goods are available such as spices, vegetables, qat, pottery, copper, woodwork and clothing. The Great Mosque (jami’ al Kabir) dates to the 7th century.

photos courtesy:

The new houses outside the walls are built in the same spirit as the old, clay colored with white plasterwork ornamentation and of several storeys with flat roofs. The building material is concrete or brick rather than mud brick.

The old city of Sana’a was inscribed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 based on the following criteria:

1) it is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;


2) it is an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;


3) it is directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.