[19/February/2004] The Road to It Passes
And Tourism Attractions
From Sana'a to Al-Mahweet, 118Km. The climate is moderate during the summer; cold during the Winter.
Among the sites that tourists to Yemen must visit on the road Sana'a to Shibam,
The area of Harz, which in ancient times got first prize in the number of water reservoirs which were set up to collect and store rainwater throughout the year, for all the water needs of the area, and as the ruins show, even now.
The area of Harz was one of the prosperous settlements during the Third Century A.D(around 250 A.D). In those days, there was one of the most famous temples, the Temple of Rian. In its location a palace was erected during the Islamic Period (Middle Ages after the 7th Century) as well as a mosque, as the remains, or, ruins clearly testify.
Among the structures of Harz that are still standing the many arches/ bridges. The location of Harz is on the outskirts of Shibam and Thila on the right side of the road leading north to Shibam by about 27km. from Sana’a
Located on the right side of the asphalted road, 20Km from Sana’a.
Among the sites which visitors stop to see are the caves which attract sightseeing and photo snapping tourists all the time.
This walled city on the eastern side of the famous Castle, or fort, which is the main objective of visiting tourists!
Among the most frequently visited locations, which need improvements and some beautifying inputs to make them tourist attractive are the hotel, first. Then the Museum, as second.
The Museum was recently set up in 1994. Many contributors from the area participated in its establishment. It contains, up to now, many relics, ceramics and old kitchen utensils, in addition to statues, all of which give an idea of how Yemeni households lived in their homes, and of the ceremonies, such as weddings, circumcisions, and holidays.
A Historical city from the cities of the Second Century A.D. The old name of the city was “Yahbus”. It was later called Shibam Aqian during the days of Bani Ya’afur.
Shibam Aqian, or Shibam Kawkaban, as it is called today, is visited by tourists daily. Among its landmarks is its popular market and its famous mountain caves. The most visible Islamic remains is the Shibam Mosque which is now 1020 years old.
Shibam is a rest area with overnight accommodation facilities, if the need arises. The city of Shibam is now in need of a Hotel with modern service facilities and more than just a rest area and hotel.
2800 meters above sea level with a moderate climate. From Shibam to Kawkaban Fort-rising on an asphated road 9km long. From Shibam, one may go up to the city by foot from Mount Shibam, which tourists of the Third Generation- or Third Age prefer to do, to reach the city passing by its main gate. Kawkaban is a high altitude town, with a wall on its northern side. As for the other sides of the town, nature has provided the necessary fortifications.
Kawkaban is among the best lookout points overlooking the beautiful fertile valleys like Al- Ahjur and Al-Na’im.
Among the important valleys which travelers to Al-Mahweet stop to visit are:
Al-Na’im Valley, Al-Ahjur Valley Shas Valley, and Al-Rujum Valley .
From the main road to the Waterfall in Wadi Al-Ahjur is 1km only, which is badly in need of paving and asphalting because all passers on the road are enthusiastic to reach the falls.
This famous waterfall, which receives a lot of visitors is also known by the following names:
o Shallal Al-Haid
o Shallal (Waterfall) Madarrat Al- Siyoul
o Shallal Al-Khalatby: According to the local residents there are 360 springs in this fertile area.
Al – Tawila:
Located 27 km from Sana’a Al-Tawila Road, west of Kawkaban-Al Mahweet Road ,which is about 21km from Kawkaban.
The intertwining houses of Al-Tawila are erected on the slope of Jabal(Mount) Al-Qarania at an attitude of 2,300 meters. From Al-Tawila one can see both Al-Mahweet City from the West, and Haraz and Al-Haimah form the South.
Al-Mahweet's Forts or Castles:
Its highest fort; if not the most important of Yemeni historical forts; is the "Yafouz" fort, which some people call "Al-Tawila Fort". It is the leading fort in the region, with height reaching 3,100 meters. In the Fort, the climate is quite cold, even in summer.
In this fortress, or castle, there are grain storage pits, which could store up to half a million Yemeni bushels of grain.
Spread out in the castle are many stores and water reservoirs etched out of the rock it self.
In the area there are caves and mountain openings, modern installations such as barracks and openings for artillery. The climber will also enjoy the sight of the arches/ bridges and the small terraces, which are filled with cultivation's of perfumery bushes.
The visitor will be fascinated by the sight of the closed caves by the large stones and the cold waters which gush out from the rock forming small frozen pools.
Besides "Yafuz" Fort, which is the largest of Al-Tawila's castles, are other forts spread out throughout the area, such as: Al-Qarqnia'a Shamsan, Hajar al-Sayid, Al-Jahily (Wishrobob) al-Muhayyir, and Bani Al-Musirry.
Many thoughts; ideas, or, suggestions can be given, such as:-
1) The tourists program should begin as follows:
The Valley and the Water falls thereby should be rest stops for resting and admiring the scenery and for taking in refreshments, so that the most beautiful scenery in the region could not be missed by the visitors, especially rest stops in the following areas:
At Al-Ahure Water Fall.[Rest Stop at the Camp] [Rest Stop at Bait Qatina].
[Rset Stop at Al-Rujum] [Rest Stop at Al-Kawhil vilage] [Rest Stop at the site where the German Camp Site was erected by the contractor who laid the Sana'a-Al-Mahweet Road.
The city is located 118 km. northwest, from the city of Sana'a. Nature and God's Crative Hand did not grant any area the beauty of the enchanting mountain areas in Al-Mahweet. Al-Mahweet is distinctive with its unique natural layout. That is why today and tomorrow, Al-Mahweet will be an attraction for internal and international tourism. This is so despite the difficulty of reaching the recreation spots of Al-Mahweet, which is still lacking many basic infrastructure services:
The asphalted road extends to the city only. One hotel only has been built there, with good service, but it should only be regarded as a beginning of a hotel industry in the governorate.
The look -outs, or, observation spots of the mountains of Al-Mahweet are enchanting and their outline is breathtakingly romantic, especially during the green seasons, like the days of cultivating, or, planting.
The majority of its mountain recreation areas are elevated and its villages lie between heights and depressions. The sight of its forts is wonderful. Its climate is pleasantly moderate and its winter cold is bearable.
Among its famous mosque, is the historical Masiah Mosque. The important crops of the Al-Mahweet mountain terraces are:
Corn, Millet and all varieties of maize and pumpkin seeds, peanuts, long beans, Peppers (Chili), "Pepper" grapes, and Variety of "Raihana" scenty bushes. The most important trees:
Al- Thirh, al-Tunub- Among the strongest and most durable large trees. They are excellent for carpentry of doors and windows.
Where Does One go in Al-Mahweet?!?
It is possible that rest places and recreational areas and other places of leisure can be identified in the most outstanding locations that could be an attraction to tourists for its natural beauty, or, by being landmarks, and areas of beautiful landscape views.
Such areas are:
Especially Munief Al-Urquob, where all visitors can get a breathtaking view; from its height; of all the locations that are on its four direction- the near and the distones.
Wherever one goes, the view of this fort does not leave your sight, whether you were in Hufash, Milhan, Al-Khamis Kawkaban or Al-Tawila. Indeed, it is a park which deserves to be visited, and where pictures of postcard beauty can be taken. The road to Muneif Al-Urquob is paved but not asphalted. Yet, all the visitors love making the climb to the fort. The most important landmark is the Palace of Ahmed Hubaish, which only the eagles manage to reach its higher floor, or, ceilings, and they are visible lurking on them.
From among the spread out villages in the region, its mountains and its beautiful terraces are:-
-Sah Village (and Du'ura)
-Beit Rayyash Village
3) Lcations that would be of interest to tourists:
The Park may be visited, on the north of the city. One can walk to it from the hotel through beautiful roads and waterways on irrigation canals, in approximately half an hour. The mountain that rises by the Park is one of the most beautiful and majestic. One can see flocks of birds roaming just under the heights of the mountain. This mountain is called "Al-Riady" (The Pilot).
In the middle of the mountain, on its northern slope, are several caves of which only eagles and vultures manage to make it to the inside of these caves.
Al- Thbra, or, Al-Dhabra:
It is one of the favorite leisure areas for the people of Al-Mahweet, and is among the places that attract tourists.It is located by the road leading to the park of the same city.
Al-Masna'ah: (Industrial Area)
Located in the heart of the Old City of Al-Mahweet, it is the first site for visitors.
The age of the buildings in al-Mahweet exceed 1020 years. The pictures of the city taken from all angles, fit to be used as postcards. The visitor's view is also attracted by the wooden house windows which are made of the tunub trees.
Some of the houses in Al-Masna'ah are five floors. Al-Masna'ah should be among the tour program of tour guides, so that the tourists may wander around the middle of its beautiful castle.
The distance to it form the city is an ascending road of 7km. It is one of the visited sites that is liked by the tourists.
A rest site for the tourists. When one takes a look from the heights of Radman, he can see some of the most wonderful and breath taking views and winding roads.
Qouz'a Home, or, Al Najjar Home:(Carpenters House), called as such because its residents are carpenters, the descendants of Al-Wattary family.
Castles, or, Forts:
Among the castles which the visitors can pass through and stop in after the Al-Tawila castles, previously mentioned, are:
Anfa, Muneif, Al-Ahjal-Bani Habashi, which used to be called in ancient times Jabal Al-Tay, or, Mount of the Young Goat: A beautiful location at Al'Ir Mosque, which is suitable for a pleasant rest.
Among the Plateus:
Bagel Plateu- an agricultural area rich in the cultivation of beans and grains.
Samasar or Way stations:
These are buildings built as rest stops for tired travelers, and as shelter for overnight travelers.
The Valleys :
-Wadi al-Uquof: Abundant in flowing waters. Wadi Sail Al-Iyoun (The flood of the Springs):Where many kinds of beautiful birds go and have fun and chirp all throughout the valley.
-Wadi Sumi'a: Northwest of Al-Mahweet.
-Wadi Juma'a Saria'a: Where the water of the south region of al-Mahweet is on the edges of the valley converge to the eastern mountains of Hufash
-Wadi Hiwar: East of Sari'a
-Wadi Boor: Between Hufash and Milhan. Its flood waters go to Wadi Surdud.
-Wadi Al-Houdh and Wadi Tubab: Its falls are to the west of Milhan.
-Wadi Al Qanawos, Wadi Al Thahir and Al Taraf: Al Khabt Al -Nuwaira villages appear at the edge of these valleys.
Bilad Ghail Mountains: (Spring Mountains Country):- situated on the slopes of which Al-Mahweet is situated.
High Moutains of Hufash:
A big chain, on the slopes and heights of which are located villages and homes of the farmers. The highest point of the Hufash elevations is the Fort of Mount Alqufl followed by Milhan mountains.
-The Fort of Mount Al-Qufi is among the most formidable fort which tourists are amazed by. The high fort, or, castle the climber can not enter into, except through a gate which is opened for him. After entering, the tourist will find himself facing many services that were available inside the castle, including the current residence farms, in which coffee, apple and oranges trees, as well as beans and flowers are planted. There is a mosque and beside it, a large plastered pool. The Castle of Jabal Qufi still stands and it can be turned into a rest, or, leisure area for the tourists, or, a park provided that modern services are set up in it.
-Bani Sa'ad Mountains: Where Al-Zahir Castle is located, are related to the mountains chain.
One of the western districts. The area of Khabt Al-Nuwaira stands out by the three well fortified castles, which have their history. These are:-
Ibn Uthman Castle, and
Al-Safih Castle; in the Village of Bani Umara. they were built like a cave.
Among the peculiar waters are the waters of Wadi Al-Hamitha(The Sour Valley), named as such because the taste of the water has a slight sour flavor, but it is different from the mineral spring waters used in baths, in terms of taste and medicinal applications.
-Ibn Uthman Castle: Situated on Jabal Al-Waqui but its residents vacated because of the recurrence of lightning defects for the fortress. The amazing feature of this castles is that many tunnels reach far out of the fortress. They are useful in the event the castle is besieged by any hostile forces. The fortress is five stories high, and many rooms are adjacent to it, for serving many functions.
This castle is suitable as a rest area, and to make postcard photos. From its high setting, one can see Hajjah Al-Tour, Abs, Al-Zuhra, and Haradh.
The distance to the castle form the Al-Mirwah Administrative Center in Al-Khabt is 12km. Among the other fortifications, or, fortresses in al-Khabt are:-
-Mabhban Fort: Famous for its amazing tunnels. At the entrance there is a round watch tower surrounded by the ruins of the reservoirs and plastered pools, or, water tanks, and a mosque with its beautiful "altar" or front interior wall (where the Imam leads the prayers). It has beautiful inscriptions, and are still fully intact, with burial or ground silos, some of which have been filled.
-Al-Haddah Fort: Visible from the above in the village of Juba'a Al-Hijrah. By the road, there is a long barrier used as a dam for the storage of flood waters. It is 22meters long and 11,1/2 meters wide with a height that reaches 7meters.
Near Khabt Al-Nuwaira are the two villages of Al-Hijra and al-Mu'utalis.
The way to it was through the Al-Shamma'a Pass which has 360 turns. Hufash is among the most enjoyable natural landscape scenery, although lacking in sanitary and electrical services. The residents still rely on their women for movement of water!
The location which we had climbed to the Administrative Center in Hufash. There has not been any small hotel built there, which is needed, if the travelers decide to stay there overnight. Among the most important locations in Hufash which attract visitors are: The Center's Fort , Al-Shayim , Al-A'ajaf(Quarn Heel), and al -Qufl Fort(Rawood Castle)
The distance from the Administrative Center of Al-Khabt in al-Mirwah to the Hufash Administrative. Center is 26km. Among the most important crops of Hufash mountains are:
Qat, Coffee, fenigree(or phenigree)figs lentils, bananas, pepper grapes, citrus fruits.
Among the villages of Hufash are Al-Misbahah, Mahsanah, Rethafa, and Bani al-Zuhaif Castle. The decent from Mount Hufash towards the valleys is by the road to Bab al-Naqah (The Gate of the she-camel) a distance of 39km, leading to Khashm al-Naqah(the Nose Tip of the she -Camel), and lasts three hours and ten minutes.
Available Transport to Al-Mahweet
At 8:00 am, the Yemeni Overland Lines leaves Sana'a for Al-Mahweet. At the same time a bus, simultaneously leaves Al-Mahweet to Sana'a belonging to the same Public Transport Company.
Spots have been designated for tourists to take snapshots. These photos would be suitable for posters, or, picture postcards.