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.
The U.S. Embassy compound is located in the Beb Al-Azab quarters in central Sana'a. The area was traditionally a site for expensive housing and residences the wealthy and powerful up to the outbreak of the 1962 revolution. It is a traditional Yemeni house that has been converted to office facilities and a staff residence for the U.S. Embassy. The design took advantage of local materials and technology. The U.S. Embassy compound is made up of several buildings: a Chancery, a residence, and the consulate, which were originally all houses, and some support facilities. The compound as a whole is served by one main entrance branching off Tahrir Square in the centre of Sana'a. A small parking lot leads to a one-lane alley to the main gate of the compound. Both the Chancery and the residence can be reached through the main gardens of the compound. Administrative buildings are further to the north of the residence and are separated by a service alley.