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.
Located on the site of an ancient Sabean fortification, the citadel stands at the crossroad of two major historical trading routes on a hillside to the southeast of Sana'a. Although it was largely rebuilt in the nineteenth century under the second Ottoman occupation of Yemen, the citadel has been reconstructed and expanded many times throughout history. Some sections today date to the period of Yu'firid rule over Sana'a in the late ninth century. The citadel consists of two walled enclosures that are connected by a covered passage. The higher enclosure is a clearly defined fortress flanked by two circular towers or nawbah, while the other more amorphous enclosure probably marked the boundary of the city's first settlement. The entrance to the citadel consists of a long passage that bends at the end and leads to Bab al-Sitran. This masonry gate to the south of the lower section is similarly constructed to the two nawbah. It has been suggested that they both date to the same pre-Islamic, Sabaean period.
Hämäläinen, Pertti, and Françoise Fauchet. Yémen: guide de voyage, 97. Paris: Lonely planet publications, 1988.
Lewcock, Ronald B.. The old walled city of San'a', 32-35, 45. Paris: UNESCO, 1986.
Lewcock, Ronald, Paolo Costa, R.B. Serjeant, and Robert Wilson. "The Urban Development of San'a'." In San'a an Arabian Islamic City, edited by R.B. Serjeant and Ronald Lewcock, 123-127. London: The World of Islam Festival Trust, 1983.
Qal'at al-Silah (Variant)
Citadel of al-Silah (Variant)
Citadel al Silah (Variant)
originally constructed 871-872/258 AH, rebuilt 19th century/13th-14th centuries AH