- Location:In Hadhramawt, Yemen
- Attraction Type: Ancient City
- Significance: Explore the world’s historic skyscrapers squeezed into a tight space surrounded by city walls.
- Best Time To Visit: From September to the month of April.
- How To Reach: You can reach the capital city of Yemen – Sana’a via international flights. From Sana’a you can take a bus to Shibam.
- Nearest Airport: Sayun Airport
Named after King Shibam Bin Harith Ibn Saba, Shibam is surrounded by a fortified wall. The 16th-century city is one of the ancient and outstanding examples of planning based on the principle of vertical construction. Its perfect tower-like structures rise out of the cliff touching the sky. Shibam is an old city and also the most impressive in southern Yemen.
Shibam in Yemen is believed to have been in existence since the second century AD, and layers of history lie below the current buildings. It became the capital of the Hadramawt Kingdom in the third century AD. The ancient city is made up of domestic, educational, commercial, administrative and religious building. This is a small walled city that is a complete unit in itself. Its unique architectural heritage of 500 mud-brick houses is a great example of traditional building skills.
The alleys in Shibam are very narrow to allow any traffic, therefore the city of Shibam is largely a car-free town. The city adds to the medieval appeal of clay houses, its quietness and peacefulness, and its dusty streets. On your way to Shibam which is desert-like, you will be amazed by the sudden sight of high-rise houses. The tallest house among them is eight stories and there are more than 500 skyscrapers squeezed into a tight space surrounded by city walls. There are connecting terraces built on the upper levels of some houses so that the neighbors can visit each other.
Shibam is a historical place which will surprise you with its architectural splendor. It is believed that Shibam was founded by a direct descendant of Noah and marked for a long time the frontier between the Sultanates of Al Qatn and Sayun.
The blacksmiths of Shibam will remind you that mostly everything in Yemen is handmade and recycled.
Hiking in this region is especially great. You can try hiking with your friends and family because the paths are challenging but the inclines are not too steep. During your hiking, you will meet many local people going about their daily chores, carrying bundles to their elevated villages from the suqs in the valley or herding goats.
You can stay at Shibam Hotel. This hotel offers all the basic amenities. It is simple and modest in taste.
Places To See in Shibam
Old Sana’a has many popular attractions. One of them is Suq al-Milh, here you can buy not only salt but also spices, bread, raisins, cotton, pottery, copper, silverware, antiques and many more.
You can visit the seventh century Jami’ al-Kabir. It is one of the oldest mosques in the Muslim world.
The Bab al-Yaman, a 700 year old wall is the entry point through the city walls. This is a great sight for you and your family.
Al Madina is the commercial area of the old city. In recent years, it is developing rapidly. The area also has three parks and the President’s palace.
In the new and improved Shibam, you can visit the theme park “Funland”. It will offer you a perfect entertainment and enjoyment.
Next to Al-Mutwakil mosque is the National Museum which is about 100 meters north of Tahrir Square. The museum houses artifacts from ancient kingdoms of Saba, Ma’rib, Ma’in and Himyar.
You can visit the Asser Mountain which is a very high hill overlooking all of Sana’a. The view from here is spectacular.
Situated in a green valley called Wadi Dhar, 10km from Sana’a, the Dar al-Hajar is a rocky palace built by the Imam Yehya Hamid Al-din. It is an outstanding structure and considered one of Yemen’s cultural symbols.
In addition to three large hotels (the Sheraton, Movenpick and Saba), there are numerous stores and restaurants, including branches of American chains such as Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Things to Do in Shibam
Try out the delicious cuisine of Yemen. These cuisines are very authentic dishes which differ from the other Middle Eastern cuisines. The people of Yemen begin their meals with bread accompanied by a fenugreek relish. Bread is very important to a Yemeni and fenugreek is a popular spice.
Do some shopping while in Sana’a. Check out the traditional souks offering various items at a great price.
Accommodation and dining in Shibam
You will have plenty of choices for hotels in Sana’a. You have the option of staying in new business hotels in the modern part of the city to the restored traditional hotels and cheap guest houses in the old town. Some of the hotels where you can stay include Sheraton Sana’a Hotel, Moevenpick Hotel Shibam, Mercure Al Saeed, Sheba Hotel, Burj Al Salam, Hadda Hotel, Sam City Hotel and many more. The restaurants in Sana’a serve local and Arabic food. You will also find Ethiopian food in Sana’a. The five star hotels, such as Sheraton and Míövenpick offer good western food. You will also find the following restaurants: Grill 101, Deja vu, Zorba’s coffeeshop (Greek), Mehraja (Indian food), Shalal Wadibana, Al-Hamra, Karmouche Pizza and many more.