The capital city of Yemen, Sana'a is one of the oldest populated cities in the world. Historically, its strategic location has allowed it to control the movement of trading networks, governing access from the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean to the Red Sea ports. Sana'a has been a site rich in Islamic architectural history since the seventh century, when Islam was largely adopted in Yemen. Sana'a's architectural heritage is a culmination of influences and styles; containing elements of Umayyad, Rasulid, and Ottoman architecture. Particular to Sana'a is a vibrant tradition of vernacular architecture, known for its use of carved timber, stone, and stepped masonry in multi-level houses. The western city has historically been the site of palatial architecture, including the notable Ayyubid "Sultan's Garden." Other notable complexes include a number of caravanserais and public hammams. In 1974, legislation required that all new buildings be executed in accordance with the traditional Yemeni styles. In 1986, the old city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Much of the Old City has since been destroyed, as a result of bombings throughout 2015.
As part of an on-going restoration project carried out by the General Organisation for the Preservation of Historic Cities and foreign funders, the Italian government has chosen to sponsor the restoration of the Beit Sari. It is a typical example of traditional Yemeni architecture, especially in its rich exterior decorations, spacious interior, mud walls, and variety of window types. The antiquity of the alabaster windows on the eastern exterior and the interior third floor windows is well authenticated to c.1540. These pairs of circular windows, one held above the other within a single arch frame, are unique to this period. Based on the existing deed of sale, the house itself dates to the 14th Century, although it has undergone a number of changes since. The house is also notable for its elaborate ornamentation around the door and striped stone work on the façade, all of which arc unique in this quarter. Owing to the importance of Beit Sari to the architectural heritage of the Old City and the degradation of the socio-economic conditions of the surrounding area, the Yemeni government with the technical cooperation of the Italian government carried out the first restoration of Beit Sari in 1990. This restoration featured the use of traditional Yemeni craftwork to encourage the continuity of this heritage, and as an example for future maintenance of the Old City monuments. Beit Sari consists of four floors and a new mafraj (c. 1940) built over the old open courtyard, and a roof terrrace. This restoration project is part of the larger Old Sana'a conservation project.