I arrived from Al Mukallah by 4WD through Wadi Dawan, and after a day of driving and marvelling at the beauty of the region, I managed to arrive in Shibam at around 4. Just in time for a cup of tea and an afternoon stroll in this fairy tale town. Walking through the alleys, it became clear how high the buildings are. Shibam is largely a car-free town because its alleys are simply too narrow to allow for traffic, and it adds to the medieval appeal of clay houses, its quietness and peacefulness, and its dusty streets smelling of animal dung.
Before sunset, I was sure to climb the hill at the edge of the wadi to have a better view over the town and was not disappointed. It was truly marvellous to see the high rise buildings as a not to be missed mark in the wadi, with the sunlight playing hide and seek on the side and top of the village. From a distance, it certainly seems that Shibam is one big house, instead of a collection of some 500 independent houses, and that's mainly because they are built so close together.
I could not resist coming back to Shibam one early morning, and walked all around the town. Views from the back were truly spectacular, and the absolute silence only interrupted by the barking of a large clan of dogs. The skycrapers defiantly point into the air which they have been doing since some 500 years, although most buildings have been rebuilt in the 19th century. Shibam's origins lie in the spice trade, but its rare beauty have redefined the role of the town as the summum of what clay construction could bring.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Shibam (Yemen). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Shibam. Read more about this site.