The Old City of Sana’a

Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, has been continuously inhabited for over 2,500 years, with its densely populated old city characterized by unique architecture bearing geometric patterns. It has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, due not only to its aesthetic beauty, but the resourceful use of local materials and clever urban planning: The multistory buildings reflect efforts to house a large community within a tightly defended fortress without compromising space, hygiene, and recreation. The city abounds with green spaces, public baths, and markets; despite Yemen’s grinding poverty, homeownership is fairly high.

Like much of northern Yemen, Sanna has faced thousands of air strikes from a Saudi-led coalition that intervened in the country’s civil war in 2015 after the Iran-aligned Houthi group ousted the internationally recognised government the previous year; the war has killed tens of thousands and brought Yemen to the brink of famine.

This past April, the United Nations brokered a ceasefire that has suspended air, sea, and land attacks, allowed desperately needed imports into Houthi-controlled seaports, and has reopened Sanaa airport. The truce is the first comprehensive agreement in the war and has actually held up fairly well — allowing citizens to rebuild their exceptional cultural and historical legacy.

Reuters reported on local efforts to fix their broken and dispirited city:

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