Sabid Medina (World Heritage), Yemen

By | December 16, 2022

Sabid was the capital of Yemen from the 13th to the 15th centuries. The city has a fort, four city gates and houses decorated with stucco. The numerous mosques and religious schools include the Great Mosque and the ruins of the university, which for a long time played an important role in the Arab and Islamic world. Due to the inadequate restoration, Sabid has been on the red list since 2000. Check clothingexpress for information about Yemen.

Medina of Sabid: facts

Official title: Medina of Sabid
Cultural monument: historical city complex with fort and four city gates – including Bab al Nasr and Bab Sihahm -, with the Iskanderija Mosque, the Great Mosque, the Al-Aschair Mosque and a further 83 mosques as well as with 50 tombs of saints and the souk; Sabid is the center of indigo dyeing in Yemen
Continent: Asia
Country: Yemen
Location: Sabid, southwest of Sanaa
Appointment: 1993
Meaning: the Yemeni capital of the 13th to 15th centuries thanks to its outstanding closed military and civil architecture of particular historical value

Medina of Sabid: history

7th century Construction of the first mosque
819 City and university founded by the Abbasid governor Muhammad ibn Ziyad
825 Ziyad’s defection by the caliph in Baghdad
971 due to the establishment of the Cairo Al-Azhar Mosque and its university, the University of Sabid lost its importance
1173 Conquest by troops of Turanshah, Saladin’s brother
1228-1454 Rassulid dynasty, expansion of the university
1536 Completion of the minaret of the Iskanderia Mosque
1537 Occupation by an Ottoman army under Suleyman Pasha
1762 Visit of the German explorer Carsten Niebuhr (1733-1815)
1849-1916 further Ottoman occupation and construction of the Mustafa Pascha mosque
1962 partial demolition of the city wall
1985 Canadian research
2000 Inclusion in the »Red List of World Heritage«
Since 2007 Restoration and construction of infrastructure measures to preserve the historical building fabric with the help of German specialists

A haven of Sunni scholarship

Medina of Sabid “Tihama”, the “hot earth”, is the name given to the coastal strip on the Red Sea in Yemen, where it is extremely hot and the humidity is almost unbearably high; even the evening and night hours bring only little cooling. In the middle of this desert landscape lies Sabid, a small and rather insignificant oriental city today, but once the capital of Yemen, which housed the largest and most important Sunni mosque in the Arab world.

The verifiable history of the city begins in the first half of the 7th century AD, when the ruling sheikh and his followers professed the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed and founded the forerunner of today’s Great Mosque. Since the Tihama tribes al-Ashair and al-Akk fought against the Abbasid governors ruling in Sanaa, the then caliph of Baghdad commissioned a certain Muhammad ibn Ziyad and selected men to put down the uprising. As a reward for these services, he was enfeoffed with the new province; In 819 he had Sabid expanded to become the new capital. At the same time as the city, a university was founded that soon became the leading Sunni university in the entire Arab world. It wasn’t until the Al-Azhar Mosque was built in Cairo that she had to give up her supremacy to them. Sabid continued to be an important center of Sunni-Shafiite teaching: In its heyday, the city, whose round city complex is girded by a city wall with four massive city gates, had a few dozen Koran schools. The mint, which produced a large part of the coins that were in circulation in Yemen at the time, was also of great importance.

Citadel in Zabid

The Yemeni Zabid was founded in 819 and was the center of the Sunni part of Yemen with a famous academy until the 12th century. From the 13th to the 15th centuries, Zabid was the capital of Yemen.

The Nadjahids ruling in the 11th and 12th centuries, a black slave dynasty under the protection of the caliph in Baghdad, chose Sabid as their center of power. The city received a new impetus as a cultural center after Saladin’s Ayyubid troops, led by his brother Turanschah, had conquered the Tihama. The Rassulids even enlarged the university, which could now accommodate around 5,000 students. During the clashes between the Egyptian Mamelukes and the Turkish troops in the 16th century, the Tihama fell into the hands of the Ottomans. Only with the advance of the Zaydites from Sadah, who were able to push the Ottomans out of the country, did a Yemeni power regain supremacy over Sabid and the Tihama.

Little remains of the old glory of Sunni scholarship: most of the Koran schools, which used to be artistically decorated with brick decorations, are closed and dilapidated. The Great Mosque, a harmonious complex with a rectangular floor plan, still has remains of the original painting, which have been poorly restored. A large part of the decorations and ceiling paintings, however, have been lost forever due to careless handling. Careless handling of historical heritage has accompanied the history of the city for centuries. The German explorer Carsten Niebuhr, who visited the city in the 18th century, complained in his three-volume “Travel Guide to Arabia and the Surrounding Countries” that the former city wall was in ruins.

Sabid Medina (World Heritage), Yemen