Situated in a mountain valley at an altitude of 2,200 meters, Sana’a is the capital of Yemen. The old city of Sana’a has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1986 and the reasons for this are clear. The city has 103 mosques, 14 hammams and over 6,000 houses, all built before the 11th century AD. These multi-storied tower-houses, built of rammed earth (pisé) and delicately decorated, are home to approximately 50,000 people. The main souk in Sana’a is the Suq al-Milh. Although the souk’s name means Salt Market, a wide variety of goods are always on sale ranging from spices to pottery and from clothing to qat, chewed as a drug on a daily basis by the populace.
Sanaá has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years and according to legend it was founded by Shem, one of the three sons of Noah. During the second century AD it was the main highland garrison town of the Sabean Kingdom. Sana’a was then twice conquered by the Persians and was even ruled for fifty years by the Abyssinians. During this time a great cathedral was built with the help of two architects sent by the Byzantine emperor Justinian. The cathedral is the largest Christian building south of the Mediterranean and Sana’a became the centre of Christian pilgrimage in Arabia. In 628 AD Yemen embraced Islam and according to historians, the Prophet Mohammed himself gave strict instructions for the exact positioning of the main mosque and for the open prayer space outside the city.
Julian has written articles on Middle Eastern and European architecture for the US magazine Skipping Stones. He has written travel articles that were published in The Toronto Globe and Mail, Fate Magazine, National Catholic Register, and Northwest Travel. Julian has also written articles for the In The Know Traveler, Go Nomad, InTravelmag, and Go World Travel websites. He has also taken many photographs that have appeared in travel guides by National Geographic, Thomas Cook and The Rough Guides. Examples of his work can be found at http://www.photographersdirect.com/sellers/details.asp?portfolio=13734