The Desert & Hadramout
Mareb was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Sheba. One of the most important archeological sites in Yemen, Mareb’s ruins of the monumental temples and the imposing historic Cyclopean dam which once brought prosperity to the people of Sheba. Today, a new dam has enabled the desert to become green again. Other points of interests include the Temple of the Moon God and the thrown of Bilquis.
Here remains the former walled city of Maen Kingdom, 4th century CE, one of the most spectacular monuments in the region.
From Mareb, one can reach the Hadramout valley through the desert, following the old incense route, crossing the waves of sand dunes to Shabwa, the ancient capital of the Hadramout Kingdom, whose ruins still stand in the middle of the desert. From here, one can enter an unbelieveable oasis-like valley, 50 km wide and 120 km long, lost between the immensity of the desert and aridity of the plateau. Between the two high cliffs of this valley numerous villages are scattered, such as Seivun, Terim and Shibam, where the first skyscrapers of the desert have been documented. Shibam dates back to the Yafurid dynasty (829-1001 CE) and its most notable monument is the mosque built by Mohamed Ibn Yafur in the 9th century CE. Shibam is under protection of UNESCO and has been included in its World Heritage List.
Kawkaban was the former capital of Bani Sharaf al Deen in the 15th century CE. It is characterized by beautiful architecture, mainly two palaces decorated with precious stones, each of which was called a “star”. Hence the name Kawkaban, two stars.
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