IntroductionThe twin towns of Kawkaban and Shibam are located in Al Mahweet province (locally claimed to be the most fertile and beautiful in Yemen). Shibam (not to be confused with the city of the same name—320 mi/515 km to the east) lies at the foot of Mt. Kawkaban. It has an excellent Friday market, the 1,000-year-old Grand Mosque (inscribed marble pillars) and yet another style of Yemeni architecture and scenery. After seeing Shibam, ascend to Kawkaban (at the top of the mountain), which used to be a stronghold for the residents of Shibam. Kawkaban has interesting reddish architecture and an excellent view. Nearby Thula, a citadel-styled town, consists of well-preserved walls, stone-tower houses, narrow streets, aqueducts and unique concrete architecture. The three villages are usually seen as a long day trip from Sana'a. (Don't skip this—though it can be exhausting, it's worth it.) Also near Shibam is the mountain town of Al Mahweet. Beautiful scenery and friendly people make Al Mahweet a great place for trekking. 20 mi/30 km by road northwest of Sana'a.
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