The gate, out of the seven of the town (village?), that I liked most is Bab al Misrah - a tiny gate at the end of some stone steps leading up towards the foot of the mountain behind. It's the narrawest of all, but one of the best kept ones.Originally it was used to isolate the town from the outside world, and to defend it, now it is part of the...more
Thula does not only have mosques and tower houses... it also has a small house that is owrth seeing - I call it the rock house since I don't think it has a name. Like the more famous palace in Wadi Dahr, but less imposing, a house was build using a rock outcrop as its walls.This house is so well integrated in the rock that it is not quite clean...more
Mohammed ibn al-hadi tomb seems to be housed inside a mosque right opposite the Jaadan cistern. It is partly below ground and has a delightful white dome - and cannot be visited. I wish I could gather more information, but nothing was found online - and my precious guidebook simply ignores its existence.more
If you enter the town of Thula, from the bab al hadi gate, the first sight that you will see, on your left, is a large water cistern. Like many other mountain towns where water is extremely scarce, this cistern is used to collect the rainwater for domestic use.It is an open cistern, one of the two in town (but I did not find the second one) and it...more
One of the most beautiful buildings in Thila is a low-rise stone house that looks like anything except a mosque. But it is: this two floors high construction (one of the few that are not tower houses) is a mosque, the Saeed mosque - sometimes spelled Sa'id.There is not mynareth there - and, if it had not been for the sign outside, I would nover...more
Thila, although nothing more than a splendid fortified village, counts more than 25 mosques, including this one - the mosque al-imam said al-kenai. I am not sure if this is the main mosque: it should have been easily recognisable by its minareths... and this mosque, in my opinion, had a most stuning one - but only one, indeed.I have the feeling...more
Bab al-Mayah is one of Thila's seven gates and it is located to the north of the town - according to my map near Al-Mayah cistern - which, admittedly - I did not find. It is a bizarre gate, as it looks very much like a castle or fortress, while the town's fortress looks a lot less like a fortress.more
Bab Al-Hadi is one of the seven gates of the city, and the one where you should start your visit. It is not the one by the taxi station - but the one before that, where the road splits. The gate is imposing and bent... so first you'll be walking amid walls without seeing what else you will find... this way you enter the town right by the old...more
The fortress that doesn't look like a fortress is a palace built right on the face of the rock, at the foot of the mountain overlooking the city. It really blends in with the mountain. In the past it was known as the fort of Mutahar Bin Sharaf Uddin. To get there you should exit the city walls at Bab al-Husn and walk up the old steps carved in the...more
I have had the best meal in Yemen in a little roadside restaurant in them middle of nowhere - right before the road splits in two: turn left and you end up in Hababa and Shibam, turn right and you head towards Thila. There is a little hamlet where this simple restaurant is, but I don't know its name.
You will be eating on simple plastic charis and table, but the owner covers it with a new thin sheet of plastic before each customer... a touch of kindness which is very welcome (and igienic).
Favorite Dish: We had a simple grilled chicken - the best chicken I have ever eaten... grilled to perfection, crispy and savouriy... Plenty of spices (not too hot) were put on the chicken before grilling - it turned out perfect. We also had some arab bread, baked at the moment - which was yummy, too. Our dirver had some sort of local soup - but I found it far too spicy for my taste.
The best way to reach Thila and the surrounding villages is to hire a car with driver for the day - public transportation is scarce, and at the time of writing (2007) it is not quite clear if foreigners are allowed to use it. You also need a simple travel permit, which every driver knows where to get.
We met our driver through the Arabia Felix Hotel - and he really went out of the way to show us around during the day, to help us during the evening (he managed to locate my lost cell phone) and to save us during the night (as xaver had to be taken to hospital). A truly wonderful man, witty and fun, with whom we spent many happy hours.
A former qat chewer (as he said, he had been made to choose between qat and wife), he bugged us all day to try it, listing all the great benefits of it. He did not have much luck...
Donkeys seemed to be everywhere in Thila... the first one we saw walked towards us as we neared the village: he left it, we entered... Soon later, by the cistern, another donkey... and as we walked though the narrow alleys, we came across more and more donkeys.Often we shared the same path, the same lane.. we walked together for a stretch. If it...more
I second what is said under "Aggressive sales people". The shopkeepers have ruimed it for themselves as far as I'm concerned. Besides, there's nothing there you couldn't find in Old Sana'a for less. Go see the town, or skip it and see Hababah (see there). Go to the souq area of Old Sana'a for your jambiyas, shawls or whatever takes your fancy.more
If there is a tourist trap in Thila is the salespeople and their shops... selling everything you may need as a souvenir - not necessarily Yemeni-made. We had read about it but we had not expect the people using such aggressive sales techniques... disappointing. At first we had been fooled... the village seemed deserted and we had it all to...more
On the mountain behind Thila you can find several examples of dwellings. Some are simple holes, others look more elaborate, all are carved (naturally, too) into bare rock.
I believe that they are now used for starage but in the past they had different uses, including temporary shelter to people in need and nomads. Some of these dwellings must have known a more permanent use since occasionally you can find caves with plastered
walls, carvings, and niches.
Thila is a small fortified town with seven ancient gates not far from Sanaa (about 90 minutes drive) and worth a day trip for its superb architecture. It is a mountain town built at the foot of a steep, rocky outcrop. The houses are all old and the vast majority are tower houses built with stones taken from the mountain behind. A perfect blend.
Fondest memory: In Thila there is a fortress built right on the face of the mountain, several mosques and tombs, an old suq (with aggressive vendors), two water cisterns and parts of the original town walls. All very charming, very old and well-presernved (thanks to the UNESCO). The lanes are narrow, there are many donkeys (why are tey all white-ish?) and million of steps... going up, going down.