Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Dar al-Hajar, the Rock Palace

Perched atop a rock pinnacle at the famous Wadi Dhahr Valley, some 15 km away from the capita city of Sana, Yemen, is Dar al-Hajar, better known as the Imam's Rock Palace. It is an iconic symbol of Yemen, whose picture you can find on postcards and magazines to bills and water bottles.

What makes the building so attractive is perhaps because it is exemplary of Yemeni architecture. It seems to grow out of the rocks on which it is constructed, and it has the characteristic painting of its windows and edges. Furthermore, it stands all alone in an oasis of green and quiet, which is the wadi.

Back in the day, Yemen didn't have a king or a president. Instead, leadership of the country rested on the shoulders of an Imam (Islamic spiritual leader). Yahya Muhammad Hamiddin (1869-1948) became Imam of the Zaydis (an Islamic religious sect) after his father's death in 1904, then Imam of Yemen in 1918 and remained in that post until his assassination in 1948. The palace was built in the 1930s by Imam Yahya as his summer residence. The palace was restored for visitors, but and turned into a museum of sort.

Via: flickr

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