Monday, September 22, 2008

Day Trip to Dar al-Hajar

Dar al-Hajar

I recently went on a short day trip to Dar al-Hajar, or The Imam's Rock Palace, which is located about ten miles away from Sana'a. Before arriving at the palace we stopped at an overlook, looking down on Wadi Dhahr, the valley Dar al-Hajar is in ("wadi" means dry river valley). When it rains the bottom of the valley becomes a river, hence the green swathe in the valley surrounded by all of the yellow and white sand and rocks. Apparently this overlook is a popular place for wedding parties to come, and although guns are officially banned from this area, participants can still be seen dancing with their jambiyyas drawn. Unfortunately we didn't see this happening, although the view was still pretty great.

Easily one of the most photographed sites in Yemen, and also featured on the 500 Yemeni Rial note, Dar al-Hajar was built in the 1930s by the Imam Yahya as a summer residence. Today it is owned by the government, and has been transformed into a museum visited by tourists and Yemenis alike. The palace grounds consist of the main building and also a few others around the courtyard housing special sitting rooms and dining rooms. The main building has been constructed on top of a large boulder in the middle of the valley. The giant rock that serves as its foundation has served other purposes throughout history - there are prehistoric burial caves and deep wells that were present long before Imam Yahya built his summer home there, both of which were implemented into the new building. See my pictures below.

Dar al-Hajar (The Imam’s Rock Palace)

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