Manhattan of the Desert: centuries-old skyscrapers in mud.

Explore Shibam, an ancient Yemeni city with a skyline of 500 mud-brick high-rises, surrounded by a fortified wall.

Welcome to Shibam, often referred to as the 'Manhattan of the Desert'. This UNESCO World Heritage site in Yemen is known for its unique ancient mud-brick high-rise buildings.

Shibam's defining feature is its incredible architecture. The city's skyline is filled with around 500 tower houses, all made out of mud brick, some reaching up to 11 stories high. These structures, some of which are over 500 years old, are a testament to early urban planning and the use of vertical construction. It's said that Shibam is one of the oldest examples of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction.

The town itself is surrounded by a fortified wall, a feature that was common in many towns in Yemen's past. This wall was built as a defensive measure, meant to protect the city's inhabitants from potential attacks.

In terms of local activities, the city's compact nature allows for easy exploration on foot. Walking through the narrow alleyways between these ancient skyscrapers is an experience in itself. However, be aware that the city's architecture is fragile and in danger due to weathering and lack of proper maintenance, so be respectful during your visit.

The local food can be sampled in simple eateries serving traditional Yemeni cuisine. Staple dishes include saltah (a meat stew), zorbian (meat and rice dish), and bint al-sahn (a sweet honey cake) that you should definitely try.

One important point to note is the current travel advisory for Yemen, due to ongoing conflicts in the region. Please ensure to check the latest travel warnings and advisories from your respective government before planning your visit.

Average temperatures during the day in Shibam.

What people say about Shibam

Most popular articles on Humbo right now
Humbo™AboutBest places to visitSustainable travelPrivacyTerms