Friday, April 1, 2011

Dar El-Hajar January 2011

In January 2011 I traveled to Sana'a Yemen on a work assignment. On the weekend, however, I was able to drive outside the capital to Dar El-Hajar, the famous summer palace of Iman Yahia (1911-1948). Dal El-Hajar is also known as the Rock Palace because it rises 5 stories from a base atop a rock outcropping.

The palace is located in a lush valley called Wadi Dhar. From the palace's upper stories there are wonderful views of the valley and the steep cliffs of the surrounding mountains.

The interior of the palace has been maintained with much of the original artwork and furnishings of Iman Yahia. There are many photos from the 1930s and 1940s showing scenes from the life of the last traditional ruler of Yemen.

In contrast to Sana'a with its bustling streets and markets, the palace in Wadi Dhar and the nearby village are quiet. Here there are no political demonstrations attracting global headlines. From the palace rooftop, you look out over a scene hardly changed since the early years of the last century. At Dar El-Hajar, it is still easy to imagine a Yemen from years gone by, remaining in spendid and peaceful isolation from the rest of the world.