Sana’a is the capital of Yemen. Mystical, romantic and endlessly enchanting, Sana’a is one of the greatest treasures of Arabia. It is also one of the world’s oldest cities, and its rich history reveals itself throughout the narrow streets lined with centuries-old buildings.You won’t find any gleaming towers of steel and glass in the city, but you will see the stone and fired-clay buildings change hues from peachy-pink to deep rose as the sun moves across the sky. If it were not for the scooters and cars that whiz down the streets, you may swear you have stepped back in time.
Best Time to Visit
The best times to visit the country are during April/May and September/October, thus avoiding the hot weather in summer and the cold nights of December.
Top Places to Visit in Sana’a
1. Old City
The Old City is the heart of Sana’a and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The entire district is a work of art, and wandering without aim is the best way to enjoy it. The area is so well-preserved that you can walk more than a kilometer in any direction without coming across a single new building.
2. Souq al-Milh
The Souq al-Milh lies at the center of the Old City and is one of the best markets in all of Arabia. There, visitors can shop for anything from mobile phones to handwoven carpets and everything in between. Silver jewelry gleams in the sunlight, the air is thick with the scent of jasmine, stalls overflow with piles of dates and colorful scarves wave in the breeze. Walking through the labyrinth of vendors is like traveling back to a bygone era. Surrounded by topsy-turvy whitewashed houses and dreamy mosques, the whole market feels like a fantasy brought to life.
3. National Museum
The National Museum is not just one of the largest museums in the region, it is also one of the best. The breathtaking collection of figurines, statues and artifacts from the Saba and Hadramawt kingdoms greets visitors on the first floor while the second is dedicated to the medieval Islamic period. The well-curated galleries present an incredible range of history while providing an outstanding introduction to the country’s history, culture and people.
4. Great Mosque
The most significant of the 50 mosques in Yemen. Legend dictates this was the country’s first mosque, built on the directions of the Prophet himself. All that remains of the original mosque are a few ornamental fragments in the ceiling and some of the arcades. The current reincarnation was built and rebuilt from the 9th through the 17th centuries. The most striking features of the mosque are its minarets, beckoning worshippers with their elaborate geometric designs. Non-muslim visitors are prohibited from entering this and other mosques in Yemen, but you can catch a fleeting glance at the main prayer halls through the front doors.