An ancient cradle of civilization, a country with miraculous nature and multidimensional culture that formed through thousands of years – modern Yemen is one of the most unusual and wondrous countries in the world. There are vibrant, lively cities and ancient deserts that are still home to nomadic tribes. Yemen is famous for its unique archaeological areas, inimitable natural landmarks, unique culture, and diverse historic landmarks.
First signs of ancient people in the territory of modern Yemen date back to the Palaeolithic age. This means that first settlers appeared here a million and a half years ago. Archaeologists discovered dozens of ancient human sites. For thousands of years, there were many great countries in the territory of modern Yemen. The ancient Kingdom of Awsan, which dates back to the first millennia BC, is one of them.
Later, the Ma’in, Himyarite, and Saba kingdoms emerged in this region. During the reign of Himyarite kings, Judaism became the official religion. Nearby Ethiopia had a great impact on the country in the 6th century, so first Christian churches and societies started appearing in the country, but they didn’t last long. Yet at the end of the 6th century, the Iranians conquered Yemen, marking the start of the so-called “Islamic epoch”. During the medieval period, Ottoman conquerors became a new disaster for the country, and later Yemen entered a long war with Turkey.
The country became fully independent from the Ottoman Empire only at the beginning of the 20th century. Nowadays, each of those tough historic periods has found its reflection in the culture and traditions of the country. Tribal relations and the cult of family still remain one of the main pillars in the national culture. Yemeni people prefer to live together with their numerous relatives. Families connect generations of people, and every family has a head – the oldest man alive.
The traditional dress of the country may look quite unusual for foreign guests. For example, women in Yemen continue wearing niqab, and Janbiya is an important part of the everyday outfit of local men. Ancient hospitality traditions are still alive in the country, so never refuse an invitation to visit the house of a local person. A refusal will deeply hurt hospitable hosts.
Sana’a, the capital of the country, remains the liveliest and most vibrant tourist destination in Yemen. This is one of the oldest cities in the world. The citadel of Sana'a, Al-Qasr, is an important historic symbol of the city. The citadel was erected in the 7th century. There are many beautiful and old mosques in Sana’a. If you plan to visit the capital, pay your attention to not only historic landmarks but also to local markets. Souk Al-Milh is a great place to shop for interesting souvenirs and national delicacies, and Janbiya Market specializes in selling incredibly beautiful ceremonial weapons.
Do you enjoy exploring archaeological sites? If yes, don’t forget to admire the gorgeous ruins of Baraqish. This ancient city was the capital of the Minaean Kingdom thousands of years ago. Archaeologists managed to restore fragments of ancient mosques and temples. It is also possible to see mysterious stones with inscriptions made in a very ancient language. Modern scientists still cannot decrypt these inscriptions and understand their meaning.
Deserted and dry climate is typical for Yemen, so fans of natural landmarks will not feel bored here. Socotra Island is a place where everyone can admire gorgeous tropical flora. Socotra is home to unique species of trees and plants that grew in our planet millions of years ago. The dragon tree is one of these unusual and unique species. Finally, the biggest aloe species in the world also grows on this island. This aloe is widely used for medical purposes.
Do you want to enjoy pleasant and trouble-free beach recreation? In this case, simply head to the city of Aden because there is a wonderful beach there. There are several coastal hotels for foreign guests. Tourists can enjoy a typical beachside vacation at these hotels and do not need to worry about breaking rules and traditions of the country.
The most comfortable way to reach Yemen is to take a flight from Istanbul, Dubai or Doha. The country has a well-developed connection with the neighbor Saudi Arabia – it is possible to reach Yemen by car from this country. There are regular bus routes that connect Jeddah and Sana’a. Tourists can also reach Sana’a from Oman by bus. That being said, airplane flights remain the fastest and most comfortable way for tourists to visit this country.
Read further: Cities and sights of Yemen