Yemen, nestled just below Saudi Arabia, is a forgotten country: a failed state in the midst of an on-going humanitarian crisis and long-running civil war. However, one thousand years ago, Yemen was a prosperous and vital actor on the world stage. In this seminar, we will explore Yemen’s history, starting in antiquity, and focus on its impressive architecture including the amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites within its borders.
To classical writers, such as Strabo, Yemen was known as Arabia Felix, Fertile Arabia, a land of abundant spices, gold, and fields of frankincense and fragrant myrrh trees. With a millennial history and a strategic location on the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen was naturally at the crossroads of multiple cultures and civilizations such as the Sabaeans, Romans, Sasanids, Arabs, Ottomans, and later the British. Located on important global trade routes, Yemen prospered and grew. Great cities were built, monumental inscriptions were drafted, and temples erected.
One of Yemen’s most remarkable achievements was its vernacular architecture. The high-rise mud-brick buildings were the world’s first skyscrapers. Not only were the traditional construction techniques in harmony with the local landscape aesthetically, but they were durable and suited to the climate, proving more durable than modern concrete. Decorated with ornate filigree details, the architecture of Yemen was not only built to resist Bedouin attacks but also to be beautiful.
Yemen’s historical, cultural and architectural heritage was recognized by UNESCO, who awarded the coveted World Heritage Site status to several locations with the desert nation. In this seminar, we will focus on The Old City of Sana’a, the Walled City of Shibam, and the historic town of Zabid, exploring the techniques used in their construction and their influence on global architectural styles. We will also look at the more subtle details that add richness to these great sites.
Led by an expert on Architecture and Art History, Tiago Neiva, this interactive seminar will explore the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Yemen. Designed to inform curiosity and future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of Yemen’s history and how its architecture is unique in the world.
About Your Expert
Tiago Miranda Neiva was born and raised in Lisbon. He studied architecture in Rome and worked later in distinct offices in Portugal and Spain. For several years he was Professor of Arts and Art History, having a Master's degree in Teaching of Visual Arts. He is currently working towards a PhD focused on the Art and Architecture of al-Andalus: the confluence between the Arab, Jewish and Christian medieval world. In recent years he has been working as a tour guide in his hometown, seeking to show and reveal its most intimate secrets through an authentic and passionate local vision.
This conversation is suitable for all ages.
90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.
Very interesting presentation about a type of architecture that is not very well known.
At a time when we hear of the war and humanitarian crises in Yemen, this superb presentation conveyed a rich, vibrant, creative culture that has tragically, perhaps been lost. It was a revelation with a excellent visuals and a well-told history.
Broadly informative review of the architecture of Yemen and its cultural and religious significance.
fun and informative primer on Yemen and its architectural heritage - tying it in with other Islamic elements
I had the great privilege to visit Yemen around 23 years ago and I was totally conquered by its beauty and singularity back then. Thanks to this seminar with the ever enthusiastic Tiago Neiva I could relive some of the aesthetic bliss that I felt at that time but with the help of an expert’s eye on architecture.