When you get here you will be offered the services of a quide. You don't need it since everything is marked or easy to figure out
Wadi Dhahr outcrop is arocky outcrop of weathered sandstone suoounding the valley. One part, in the distance but right opposite the rock palace, is a place where Sanaa residents go on Friday, either to have a pic-nic with their families, or else before they get married (men) for photographs and dances.
When we arrived the dances had finished, but the cliff was still full of people - really friendly people... some selling some seeds and candies, others just having a chat and qat with friends. Many have their rifle with them. It's no problem taking pictures of people, but it's also the place where people will ask to take photos of you, the foreigner. I ended up in some guy's wedding photos.
There's also some women without their families - widows I suppose - some badly crippled men begging for money. Everyone (locals, I mean) were giving them money. I have the feeling that they badly needed it, so do give a coin or two. One thing I noticed (with happiness) is that our greeted them all, and with utmost respect and reverence. Thumbs up.
Dar al Hajar is better known as the rock palace - and it seems to grow out of the rock at its base. Definitely a must-see because of the peculiar architecture, and it may also happen that you will see it (andsend it) as a stamp. This palace is the last palace of the Imam Yahyaand his four wives.
It was built as a summer residence in the 1930'ies and it is on five floors and it is a labirynth of (uneven) stairs and passages. Some rooms have kept the original furnishing and are quite nice, and the coloured glass windows are amazing.
However what you should really see in this palace are the ancient wells - one goes down as deep as 275 metres - and the spectacular views (and sore legs) you'll get from the top balcony. Entry (february 2007) was 500 dirhams.
Young men often come to this place on Friday morning before celebrating their wedding... it is a place to celebrate with pre-wedding dances and shooting in the air. You can pick out those grroms by their clothes... a white dress with some golden embroideries, a long (ceremonial?) sword, tied flowers around their neck... and a large group of male firned.s
Not only they are most happy to let you take pictures of them, but they will also invite you to be in their pictures.
Wadi Dhahr, some 15 kilometres from Sanaa, is a green and fertile valley dotted with some msall and dusty villages. It is most famous for its rock palace (Dar al Hajar) while for male locals it's the place to go to for traditional dances and photos before a wedding. For most itll problably be the first taste of "rural" Yemen.
In some villages, like Qaryat al-Qabil, you can see how traditional houses do not differ much from houses in the city... they are just smaller in size, but not less beautifully decorated. I like the fact that a simple, often poor life, is no excuse for lack of taste or beauty.
Fondest memory: Wadis are dry river beds that, at times, get water and at times (rarely) flood... for this reason the ground is really rich and fertile. Wadi Dhahr is Sanaa's orchard... plenty of gardens and fruit trees all over. A very green sight. Even greener are some trees you'll see in great numbers, and often fenced: qat trees. If you want to make them out, look for the withered and sad-looking trees...