By Tamjid Alkohali
Al-Qahira Citadel, in the heard of the city of Taiz, towers over the mountains, almost reaching the clouds or touching the moon. It’s impossible to feel bored while viewing the tower. It is located over Saber Mountain from the northern side, overlooking Taiz. It is perched at a majestic 1,500 meters above sea level. According to historical sources, it was built before the advent of Islam. However, references do not mention it from the Islamic era to the Salahite state in the 5th century A.H. Some people say that Al-Qahira Citadel was called Taiz Fort until Imam Motahar bin Sharaf al-Din began his rule and changed it to Al-Qahira Citadel.
The Al-Qahira citadel has played an important military and political role throughout its long history. It is also a rare architectural masterpiece with varied facilities. Because of its close proximity to the city of Taiz, the citadel became the object of restoration, development, and maintenance. These days, visitors in large numbers visit its many recreational facilities, such as its parks, restaurants, waterfalls, library, theater, museum, and other facilities. Though the citadel is a magnificent recreation center, it is also an authentic tourist destination in its own right.
The specialist in restoring the heritage sites, Zaid Alrody, explained the features of citadel beginning with the citadel wall. “It was constructed in a highly complex geometric manner. Its height is 120 meters, while the thickness is four meters, containing guard rooms, some of which still remain today,” said Alrody.
From inside, Al-Qahira citadel has a large area and many entrances, but basically it contains two parts. “The first part is called Al-Adenia. It contains green terraces, a water dam, and basins as well as palaces surrounded by towers and parks. These palaces have secret tunnels leading outside the citadel,” Alrody explained. “The second part is called the Al-Makaraba area. It also includes palaces and guard towers, as well as granaries and water tanks.”
Al-Qahira citadel tells a story of ancient history with plenty of historical evidence. Alrody commented that there is a set of inscriptions, marble and clay figurines, censers that date back to the Alqtabanih era, altars of limestone, and remnants of stones which were carved with Missned calligraphy and Aramaic-Semitism dating back to the 10th century BC,. There are also some inscriptions which mention king Karib’il Watar of the 3rd century AD and many other historical pieces. All these things indicate that the Citadel belongs to Pre-Islamic eras.
The citadel deteriorated in successive periods because successive wars. The deterioration increased with the time because of rain, wind, and changes in the air. “The citadel lost many of its features. Its palaces were destroyed in the war between the Imam Al-Mansour and his brother Ahmed. The deterioration of the citadel continued day after day, until it became a danger for the people in the city. Therefore, the officials of the city’s affairs started thinking about restoring the citadel,” said Alrody.
The journey of restoring the citadel began in 2000 and continued to 2014. It was long journey, but through this long period the Al-Qahira citadel was reborn.
“The restoration team has consisted of a number of specialized experts, archaeologists, and technicians who were keen to implement the restoration work according to studies through which they were able to restore the castle as it was in the Apostolic era,” added Alrody.
The citadel was restored beginning with the wall, moving to the palaces, basins and terraces, adding parks and new trees.
According to Alrody, the process of restoration cost about 3.4 billion YR, and the plan of improving the citadel isn’t finished. Taiz city specified 200 million YR for parking and for preparing a reflective light from above the Citadel.
Today, Al-Qahira Citadel is considered a historic landmark in Taiz. It looks like a painting that attracts people from everywhere.