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Mission réalisée du 12 septembre au 1er octobre 1982

Cette mission a été organisée pour permettre au gouvernement de la république arabe du Yémen ainsi qu'à l'UNESCO de déterminer la portée d'une campagne internationale pour Sana'a. La sélection des consultants et l'organisation de la mission ont été confiés à l'ICOMOS et à son Directeur.
Cinq consultants furent choisis. Chacun était responsable pour une partie spécifique de l'étude. L'équipe fut dirigée par Abdelaziz Daoulatli, alors le Secrétaire général de l'ICOMOS.

Les sujets suivants ont fait l'objet d'un rapport de la mission :

  • Rapport sommaire concernant la restauration, la réhabilitation et la mise en valeur de la ville ancienne de Sana'a par Abdelaziz Daoulatli
  • La restauration et la préservation de l'architecture historique de la ville ancienne de Sana'a par Ronald Lewcock
  • Urbanisme, développement et création d'infrastructures par Jellal Abdelkafi
  • Règlementation concernant le développement, promotion de l'artisanat et tourisme, éléments du plan de protection par Jamila Binous
  • Approvisionnement en eau, égouts sanitaires et pluviaux par P.I. Helmore



Mission executed from 12 Sept. to 1 Oct. 1982.

This mission was organized to help the Yemen Arab Republic government and UNESCO determine the scope for an international campaign for Sana'a. The selection of consultants and the preparation of this mission were entrusted to ICOMOS and its Director.

Five consultants were selected. Each one was responsible for a specific part of the study. The team was lead by Abdelaziz Daoulatli, then ICOMOS Secretary General.

The mission reported on the following subjects:

  • [click] Summary report on the restoration, rehabilitation and enhancement of the Old City of Sana'a by Abdelaziz Daoulatli
  • [click] Restoration and preservation of the historic architecture of the Old City of Sana'a by Ronald Lewcock
  • [click] Town planning, development and the creation of infrastructures by Jellal Abdelkafi
  • [click] Development regulations, promotion of the crafts and tourism, elements of the plan of protection by Jamila Binous
  • [click Part1] [click Part 2] Water supply, sewerage and stormwater drainage by P.I. Helmore


Click on drawing to download the larger format image


Plan D1 - Old City area: Storm Water Drainage

plan d2

Plan D2 - Old City area: Storm Water Drainage (41 Mb)

Plan d3

Plan D3 - Wadi Saila Proposed Improvements (42 Mb)

Plan g1

Plan G1 - Location Plan (19 Mb)

Plan s1

Plan S1 - Old City Area - Proposed Sewage Network (70 Mb)

Plan s2

Plan S2 - Al Qa Area - Proposed Sewage Network (40 Mb)

Plan w1

Plan W1 - Old City Area - Existing Water Supply Network

Plan w2

Plan W2 - Al Qa Area - Existing Water Supply Network

[click] Those interested in Sanaa's heritage preservation are invited to read Michele Lamprakos' article entitled: Rethinking Cultural Heritage: Lessons from Sana'a, Yemen.


Sana'a one of the most ancient cities in the Arab world, has been known since the 2nd century b.c., the era when the Queen of Sheba ruled from her capital Ma'arib to the threshold of the desert. Sana'a, dominating the highlands, was a defensive outpost for the kingdom, a strong and impregnable citadel, from whence the name Sana'a - "Stronghold".

In the middle of the 2nd century b.c., Sana'a was endowed with a palace called the Ghumdan Palace. It was so grandiose that its renown spread far and wide; several centuries later the Korean speaks of it.

Sana'a the impregnable was, however, conquered 3 times by the Persian Empire. It was also governed by the Abyssinians for 50 years. It was during this occupation that Christianity came to Sana'a, and a cathedral was erected to which the Emperor of the Byszantine empire contributed by sending 2 of his best architects to aid in its construction. Because of this venerable Christian sanctuary, so far from the Mediterranean shores, the city became a pilgrimage center, rivaling Mecca. Even today there stand the remains of a Martyrium situated on the eastern extremity of the cathedral.

Islam arrived one century later. The Prophet himself, according to Arab sources, ordained the construction of the mosque at Khotba and the musallah "El Idayn" announcing the birth of a new era.

Sana'a, the capital blessed by the Prophet, knew prosperity. At the beginning of the XI th century, Ahmed al-Razi gave a rapturous description of it in his "Tarih medinet Sana'a". It already resembled the city we know today on every point, with its beautiful multiple storied houses, its baths, its 106 mosques, its 12 public baths or hammams. He estimated the number of houses at 6,500, very close to the present number.

At the end of the XII th century, Sana'a saw a new conqueror. This was Turansha, the brother of Salah-al-Din. He chose the western part of the city to build his palace, around which developed the Sultan's Quarter.

The Ayyubids reigned for 55 years and then leagued their power to their subordinates the Rasulids. They chose Ta'izz for their capital. However, Sana'a never lost its economic pre-eminence up to the day that Suliman the Magnificent, recognizing this fact, re-established it as a capital in the XVI th century. The east of the city became the Ottoman's Quarter, with the palace, the Qasr al silah, and the neighboring grand mosque, built by Sinan Pasha near the end of the XVI th century. This ensemble also included a hammam of gracious architecture.

With the resurgence of Yemeni power, a period of peace and prosperity was established and Sana'a, through its strategic position, was able to profit fully from this new climate. In the XVII th century, it was known for its riches. Its souqs overflowed with merchandise, and its "samsara" caravanserai were known as the most beautiful and the most active.

At the end of the XVII th century, the Jews were taken out of the center of the city. One-fifth of the population, who until then lived mixed with the Moslems, were moved to the Qa'al Yahûd quarter in the west of the city where the Jewish community continued to live until around 1950, when they chose to emigrate.

With the addition of the "El Qa" quarter, the city took the dimensions that it conserved until the end of the reign of the Imams; an ensemble of 3 sectors: the old city, the Turkish quarter, and Qa'al Yahûd.

The revolution, which brought in a new era, marked the site by the appearance of a new city, skirting the walls of the old, between Bab-Ech Shû'ûb and Bab-al Yemen. It expanded rapidly, enveloping the gardens of Bir-al-Azab in the west, and then those to the north and south. This rapid urban expansion was accompanied by a considerable demographics growth; the number of inhabitants grew from 55,000 in 1962 to 250,000 in1982, of which approximately 42,000 live in the old city.

Despite the economic and political weight of this new city, the elders obstinately refuse to call it Sana'a; when referring to a place situated outside the city walls, they specify "hâreg Sana'a, outside Sana'a.



Sanaa - Photo by Cor Dijkgraaf 2001


Sanaa - Photo by Cor Dijkgraaf 2001


Sanaa - Photo by Cor Dijkgraaf 2001


Sanaa - Photo by Cor Dijkgraaf 2001


Sanaa - Photo by Cor Dijkgraaf 2001


Sanaa - Photo by Cor Dijkgraaf 2001

image image

Sanaa - Photo by Cor Dijkgraaf 2001


Sanaa - Photo by Cor Dijkgraaf 2001