Yemen is home to several isolated mountain villages several of which functioned as fortresses throughout the region’s history.
Haraz Mountain Villages
Located between the Tihamah coastal plain and Sanaa, Haraz has always been a strategic area. For instance, it was a caravan stopping point during the Himyarite Kingdom (110 BC-525 AD) and the stronghold of the Sulayhid dynasty between 1047 and 1138. Accordingly, the region is famous for its fortified villages. Jabal Haraz has also been on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in the mixed category in terms of its culture and nature since 2002.
Al Mahwit in the Haraz Mountains
Compared to other mountain villages in Yemen, the foundation of Al Mahwit, dating from 1599, is relatively recent. Located at an elevation of 2000 meters, the village was highly isolated until the 1970s. The economy in the village depends on agriculture, mostly producing coffee, tobacco, corn, and sorghum.
Al Hajarah in the Haraz Mountains
Founded in the 12th century, Al Hajarah used to be a fortified market town along the Sana’a-Al-Hudayda road. Later, it became a base camp for trekkers.
Shahara Mountain Village
Shahara village lies at an elevation of 2500 meters, on top of Mount Shaharah. The region is famous for its 17th-century limestone bridge connecting two villages across a deep gorge. The village’s history goes back to the rule of a pre-Islamic king As’ad al-Kamil. It was mentioned as a mountain and a fortress in the historical records of the author al-Hamdani during the 10th century. Moreover, the village was an important learning center for several scholars and poets during the Middle Ages. Shahara was also a significant stronghold during the Yemeni-Ottoman conflicts of the 16th and 17th centuries.