We start our day by visiting the small town of Shibam of the nord, founded in the 1st century AD, located 2300 meters above the sea level, at the foot of Jabal Kawkaban. Here after visiting the ancient gate of the city, we head to the souk, small but really characteristic, where we can buy bread and fruit. Going through the small streets of Shibam, you get to one of the oldest mosques in the country: obviously not visitable for non-Muslims, but it is worth looking at, even from outside.
After this first stop we continue to the second spot, the town of Kawkaban, located 350 meters higher than Shibam, at the top of the mountain which it gets its name from. Along the side of the mountain you can see some small caves housing tombs following an ancient local custom. Starting from the central square of Shibam, after almost one hour walk, we reach the top of Jabal Kawkaban, where the Kawkabam village, situated in a spectacular position, dominates the whole area: local people haven’t got used to meet foreigners here, and the chance to see how daily life is going on, away from Western influences, is a truly unique experience!
Once famous for its music school, this village is known for its beautiful architecture and its ancient water tanks. During the visit through the villages, it is very common to be followed by a lot of loud and smiling kids that want to hold our hands. Got down on the same path to Shibam, after a short break in the crowded souk, we head to two ancient fortified towns, absolutely not to be missed for their particular architecture: Thula and Hababa. Characterized by imposing walls that surround the entire area, only interrupted by two ancient gates, the town of Thula was an important theological center: its stone houses, its mosques and its old souk surely won’t disappoint your expectations.
The nearby Hababa, similar in style and architecture, still maintains its oval water tank, which makes Hababa different from other citadels. Seeing this old stone made tank, where even today people draw water, do the washing or water the cattle, is really fascinating.
After enjoying these beautiful villages, we head to the last stop of our daily trip, Al Mahwit. Known for its lively market, this city does not have much to offer, but it’s worth visiting because the road to get there is surrounded by fruit , coffee and tobacco plantations.
This area has a beautiful view and, on each hill, you can see a fort or a fortified village. Al Tawila with no doubt, is the most spectacular spot and in the past it was an important gathering point for the coffee trade.