"The oldest skyscraper-city in the world" Top 5 Page for this destination Shibam by Sambawalk

Shibam Travel Guide: 27 reviews and 91 photos

The oldest skyscraper-city in the world

Shibam is a town in Hadramawt, Yemen with about 7,000 inhabitants. It has been the capital of the Hadramawt Kingdom for several periods of time. (There is also a town by the same name outside Yemen's capital of Sana'a. To avoid confusion, the town of this article is therefore often referred to as Shibam Hadhramaut.)

Shibam owes its fame to its distinct architecture, which now is on UNESCOs programme to safeguard the human cultural heritage. The houses of Shibam are all made out of mud bricks, but about 500 of them are tower houses, which rise 5 to 11 stories high, with each floor being an apartment occupied by a single family. This technique of building was implemented in order to protect residents from Bedouin attacks. While Shibam has existed for around 2,000 years, most of the city's houses come mainly from the 16th century. However, many have been rebuilt over and over again during the last few centuries.

Shibam is often called "the oldest skyscraper-city in the world" or "Manhattan of the desert", and is the earliest example of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction. The city has the tallest mud buildings in the world, with some of them being over 100 feet(over 30 meters) high, thus being the first high-rise (which need to be at least 75 feet or 23 meters) apartment buildings and tower blocks.

  • Last visit to Shibam: May 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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