Al Mahwit is a capital city of Al Mahwit Governorate, Yemen. It is located in the elevation of around 2000 metres.
The architecture of Al Mahwit is typical of the Central Highlands and mixes the old and the new successfully. It is quite run down in parts but this adds to its charm. The older houses, which are between 300 and 600 years old, are made from blocks of mountain stone and have attractive shuttered windows.
Al Mahwit is a good place to buy batteries, films, CDs and other items of a more 21st century nature. It is a reasonably modern shopping area although a bit run down.
Most of the mountain villages and small towns concentrate on selling crafts and tourist souvenirs but Al Mahwit is a practical sort of town and it is a good opportunity to stock up on things you are running short of if you are spending some time in the highlands area.
The shopkeepers are very helpful and if they don't have what you want they will tell you where to get it.
Al Mahwit was the friendliest and most welcoming place I visited in Yemen. People were smiling and helpful, saying hello in the streets.
The children wanted their photograph taken but none asked for money or anything else - unlike the highland villages that get a lot of tourists.
West of Mahwit in the Haraz mountains, Manakah was an important stopping place in Ottoman times for caravans travelling between Sana’a and Hodeidah.
Close by is Al Khutayb, an Ismaili Shi’ite region and Hatim Ibn Ibrahim al-Hamdani is a 16th century Ismaili shrine and tomb. It is 6km from Manakah on top of a hill.
Pilgrims travel from as far as India to visit. It is much larger than most shrines we saw.
The area is fenced and non-muslims are not allowed in but there are good mountain views around it.