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 in the eastern quarter of Sana'a, the Mosque of Imam Salah al-Din is the tomb mosque of Imam Salah al-Din Muhammad. It dates to 1390, the year of his death. The domed mosque is square in plan with a qibla iwan to the north, and a southern extension with a second mihrab. Inside the prayer hall, the arcades are oriented along the east-west axis. Accommodations for students are located on the second floor, above the main entrance of the mosque. The imam is buried in a domed tomb next to the entrance along with his son al-Mansur Ali ibn Muhammad (d. 1436), his wife, and other relatives. This closed chamber is decorated with scalloped arches and an alabaster dado.
The mosque is well-known for its minaret. Constructed in the late sixteenth century by Ottoman governor Sinan Pasha, the minaret is decorated a strong diamond pattern. A ribbed cupola with a finial (alem) surmounts the structure.
Finster, Barbara. "An Outline of the History of Islamic Religious Architecture in Yemen." In Muqarnas IX: An Annual on Islamic Art and Architecture, edited by Oleg Grabar, 132, 142. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1992.
Lewcock, Ronald, R.B. Serjeant, and G. Rex Smith. "The Smaller Mosques in San'a." In San'a': An Arabian Islamic City, edited by R.B. Serjeant and Ronald Lewcock, 370. London: The World of Islam Festival Trust, 1983.