Yemen isn’t a place that gets a great deal of attention in the tourism stakes, and at the moment it’s a place of some unrest. But it’s a beautiful country that deserves recognition, boasting some astonishing architecture, amazing souks and some fantastic scenery.
As an added bonus, the weather in Yemen isn’t as hot and dry as you might expect for a desert region. Sure, they get very little rainfall, but with many of the cities at a high altitude you’ll find the temperatures warm but not stifling. Although at midday you’ll probably want to copy the locals and beat a hasty retreat to the shade and cool of indoors. We’ve picked out some of the highlights to tempt you in the future.
Yemen is the original home of “if we can’t build out then we’ll have to go up”, with multi-storey buildings dating back over four hundred years, when us Brits were just about working out how to make buildings stay up for any length of time! Beautifully adorned high rises have survived the centuries clinging to rocks for dear life and houses stand perched atop rocky outcrops. Seek out the village of Al Hajjara to see some amazing examples.
The capital, Sana’a boasts a spectacular Old Town where a wander through the streets is like taking a step back in time. The streets are labyrinthine and can be confusing to start with in this city totally untouched by Western influences, but you’ll find it a rewarding place to get a bit lost in. The oldest copy of the Qur’an ever found was uncovered here in Yemen and there are plenty more discoveries to be made along the way as well.
Sana’a is also well known for its delicious food, and indeed you can try regional delights from all around the country. The markets are packed with all sorts of spices and we don’t think you’ll be able to resist buying some to bring home.
In the Gulf of Aden off the mainland of Yemen lies this island, which is so isolated that a third of plant life here is unique to the island. Travellers describe it as an other worldly place, where strange trees forge a life for themselves out of bare rock. Eco-tourism is a fledgling industry in this part of the world, but this is going to be one to watch.
Top image by Ai@ce