Southwest of Sana’a is Al Hajjarah, one of the most impressive and easily accessible mountain villages in Yemen. It is situated west of Manakhah, regional centre of the Jebel Haraz (famous for the beauty of its women).
Like so many Yemeni villages, Al Hajjarah encircles and crowns the summit of a hill. Built of quarried stone from the mountainside nearby, it looks like a natural outgrowth of the local bedrock. It is a superb example of Yemeni vernacular architecture.
The village dates from the twelfth century. Its fortified houses made with massive blocks of unmortared stone, cluster to form an uninterrupted rampart.
A series of granaries and cisterns have made it possible for this village, like others in the mountains, to withstand a long siege.
The fortified houses are highly decorated; some say this is to keep away the flies, others say it is a symbol of having accomplished the Hajj or marks the room where a child has been born, while still others believe the decorations are protective, like amulets, and have a more ancient pre-Islamic origin.
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