Aden History and Civilization

Historical and Ancient Aden in South of Arabia

Aden is considered as one of the oldest Arab cities with a civilized presence, Due to Its strategic location on both the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean as well as, it controls the Red Sea through the waterway known Bab Al-Mandab.

Sunset view over Elephant Bay – Gold Mohur – Tawahi – Aden

Commercially, it is one of the most important ports in the region, and the international free zone areas.

All these advantages made it the target of the major countries of the world, and this was mentioned in many studies and ancient historical manuscripts with confirmation from UNESCO in its report issued recently which indicated that Aden is one of the top oldest cities in the world .

Aden on the Map

Aden was occupied by Britain in 1839, occupation of Aden was a strategic rather than commercial undertaking, guarding the lines of communication with India. With British Somaliland in the ‘Horn of Africa’, Aden provided control of the entrance to the Red Sea.  Following the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, Britain established protectorates in the hinterland of South Arabia to act as a buffer against the Ottomans who occupied Yemen. In 1937 Aden became a Crown Colony.

Source IWM

The story of the ship’s Daryadawlat accident was the argument and the entrance that the British held, and the son of one of the sultans was involved in the accident of the ship, which led to the conclusion of a deal to give up Aden in exchange for exempting the Sultan from the sums that were in the form of debts to Britain, and Aden was then under the rule of Aden and Lahj Sultan.

The British forces moved in an attempt to enter Aden, and the original inhabitants of Aden confronted them. At  that time, most of them were sailors and fishermen, and the area (Castle of Sira) witnessed battles followed by surrender and occupation.

Tawahi recently and Steamer Point previously – Port of Aden

Meaning of the word Aden :

Historians have indicated that the word Aden is derived from the verb Adon, meaning residence, or from the metal, which is iron metal, and linguistic dictionaries gave many meanings to the word (Aden) including (Aden) is the sense of residence, and (Aden) the country i.e. (Aden) the place, which means extract the mineral from it.

Other meanings that give similar concepts are (residence with what makes stability possible), and dictionaries provide another meaning for Aden (as it means the SeaCoast).

But, they all agreed on its historic nobility as an important commercial port since (the beginning of the first millennium BC) as its name was mentioned in the Holy Books (the Torah and the Bible) as well as in Musnad inscriptions and in many historical books.

Location of Aden :

Aden is located geographically at the far southwestern of the Arabian Peninsula, and about 95 nautical miles east of the Bab al-Mandab strait the southern gateway to the Red Sea.

The time zone in the city of Aden is +3 HRS of GMT. What distinguishes its location is that it is located between Egypt and India, which made it very famous in the ancient world trade route.

The capital of Aden is Crater, which is located on the crater of a dormant volcano and from it its name is derived in English, as it is called the name “old Aden” because of its archaeological buildings, antique markets and beautiful narrow streets.

The weather and climate in Aden :

Aden’s climate is characterized by extreme heat in the summer season with a high temperature that reaches +35 degrees Celsius while the percentage of humidity rises to higher levels between 70 and 80%, as Aden witnesses, with the end of the summer season, in winter the rain falls, and the temperature drops to an average of 20 degrees Celsius. The atmosphere, which helps in many sports and tourism activities in the city.

Aden was the capital of the south of Arabia and its characteristics, its social fabric represented a mixture of all the governorates of the south, such as, Yafea, Lahj, Shabwa and Hadramawt  in addition to the regional mixture with India Pakistan Somalia and Djibouti created an amazing folk, culture and lifestyles.

Aden is one of the coastal cities in which there are many warm golden beaches surrounded by a mountain chain such as ( Shamsan Mountains ) distributed over most of its areas, Al-Aidarous Mountain in the south and  Al-Manzhar mountain to the east, where it views a large water surface is the Gulf of Aden, which opens up to the Indian Ocean.

It’s longest Sea coast is called the Abyan coast, which connects Aden with a number of governorates and the southern cities surrounding it, from the eastern side, and there are several roads that extend on its shores from the western side that connect it with other beautiful touristic areas such as Imran and Ras al-Ara reaching to Bab Al Mandab.

What to see in Aden – Places worth visiting in Aden – Best place for visiting in Aden :

Crater or Krater or Kraytar – Aden :

When you go on a trip to Aden in Yemen, you will see that most of the attractions are natural and historical.

It is the capital of Aden Governorate the official name of Crater is ( Seera – Sirah – Sira ) District  It is situated in a crater of an ancient volcano which forms the Shamsan Mountains.

Tawila Cisterns ( Tanks ) – Tawilah Tanks – Sahareej AlTawila in Crater Aden : 

One of the main historical places in Crater is the Cisterns ( Tanks ) of Tawila. This is a rain water-catchment system situated in the Carter sub-center and no one know when exactly it was built but it was discovered during the British occupation in 1854 . 

The historical sources differed in determining the time when the tanks of Aden were built, so archaeologists did not find any support, inscriptions, or indication mentioning the date of its construction, but the dominant statement is that its construction passed through several historical stages, the first of which was in the fifteenth century BC during the rule of Sheba Kingdom .

What is striking is the presence of a board attached to a wall near the Coghlan tank that says, “These tanks in Wadi Al-Tawila are unknown for its history.”

There is aslo a small museum located at the entrance gate of the Tanks.

Plaque by the British in 1899 to record the date of Tawila Tanks discovery

The word ( Sehreej ) is an Arabicized word from the Persian language, meaning: water basin.

Top view of Tawila Tanks

Sira Fortress – Sira Castle – Sira Citadel ( Qalaat Seerah ) :

Among the important archaeological places that must be visited in Crater Aden is the Citadel of Sira or Sira Fortress, which was considered as the main harbor for ships coming to Aden and there is also no specific date documented for its construction

It was a military site in Aden. The original fortress dates to the 11th century but in fact no certain date is specified or mentioned officially at all, It is still in use today by the military. The fort is located on Sira Island, a rocky and tall volcanic outcropping which dominates the old harbor of Aden. Much of the fort’s history is unknown, especially since there have been few archaeological studies done of the area. One theory is that construction was initiated around the year 1173 by a Turkish ruler of Aden named Prince Othman Al-Zangabili Al-TakritiThe fortress was proven during subsequent attacks against Aden by the Portuguese and especially the Turks in 1517 and at last the Brisith occupation missions which started from this place exactly . Although the ancient harbor began to silt up and the primary commercial center eventually moved to the other side of the Aden Peninsula. It is a very important and beautiful touristic site in Aden and the Arabian Peninsula generally.

Sira Fortress – Qalaat Seerah – Crater – Aden
A blue hour night view of Crater Aden from Sira Fortress 
A view of Sira Fortress from entrance of Crater by the end of Khormaksar Side
A day view of Crater Aden from Sira Fortress

Crater Lighthouse Menara – Manarat Crater – Manarat Aden :

Located next to the General Post Office. It is said that it was a lighthouse for guiding ships, but the most likely opinion is that it was a menara belonging to an old mosque. The mosque disappeared and it is likely that it was demolished, but the lighthouse remained till today, there is no known history that indicates when exactly it was built.

Crater Lighthouse – Menara of Aden – Manarat Aden

The National Museum and The Military Museum in Crater Aden

The National Museum is loacted in Rosemate District in Crater Aden which originally was the Abdali Sultan’s Palace ( Sultan of Aden and Lahj ).

It is one of the most important historical monuments in the country built over 100 years ago which suffered from destruction and looting as a result of the ongoing conflict in Yemen

Al Abdali Palace – The National Museum Crater Aden
The National Museum of Aden

The Military Museum is located in the downtown city center Crater Aden, before the independence in 1967 it was building of The Residency School, Camp.

Military Museum Almathaf Alharbi – Crater Aden 
Main gate of the Military Museum – Crater – Aden

Aden Gate – Aqabat Aden – Bab Aden :

It is the main gate for entrance from Maalla to Crater and vise versa, previously till the beginning of 60’s there was a beautiful stone bridge was connecting the two mountains with a narrow road in the middle, Under the pretext of expanding and developing the road, the British authorities then bombed and destroyed the historic bridge, this was not an acceptable justification, especially since the bridge was a very important historical landmark and monument. No specific date of construction mentioned.  However, as it was said, and mentioned in some manuscripts that it had been built since very ancient times.

Aden main entrance gate Aqabat Aden or Bab Aden
Old view of Aden gate before destroying the stone bridge in 60’s

Here are another photos of the traditional old shopping centers and beautiful old and modern streets and places in Crater Aden.

Banks Area – Crater – Aden
Al Masdrasi Area – Crater Aden
The Legislative Council Building – Crater – Aden
Inside the Legislative Council Building Saint Maria Church – Crater – Aden
The Legislative Council Building – Crater – Aden

The Legislative Council building in Aden is one of the most important touristic landmarks of the city. This building was originally a church built in 1871 and was called “ Saint Maria Church ” and in 1947 the church became the seat of the first legislative council in the Arabian Peninsula. The council was composed of eight members representing the Aden religious and national sects, and each sect elected its representative.

Crater Aden old downtown streets
The traditional historical bazaars and shopping center in Crater – Aden
Old streets and alleys in Crater Aden
Queen Arwa Main Road – Crater Aden

Tawahi ( Steamer Point ) – Al-Tawahi :

It is the most important and strategic place in Aden because it is the main Seaport of Aden so thats why it was called Steamer point previously. Also it was a very vital commercial area in the past because it contained high-end and standard international companies, exhibitions, markets and shops that attracted tourists and sailors from all parts of the world, especially since it was and is still considered the official port of Aden

A view from Lovers Point Goldmohur Beach – Tawahi – Aden

A view of Tawahi from the Mini Big Ben – Aden

Tawahi – Steamer Point – Aden
Gold Mohur Beach – Tawahi – Aden

Tourists Entrance – Port of Aden -Tawahi

Sunset over Goldmohur beach – Tawahi – Aden

Night view of Goldmohur beach – Tawahi -Aden

Elephant Bay beach and resorts – Tawahi – Steamer Point – Aden

Sunset over Elephant Bay Beach – Tawahi – Aden

Sheraton Aden – Tawahi 

Aden Gardens – Al-Bagisha – Tawahi – Aden

Old traditional and historical building which is still alive in Aden

Tawahi old historical bridge

Tourists port Building in Tawahi – Steamer Point – Aden

Photos of Sheikh Othman – Al-Mansoora – Khormaksar and Al-Buraiqa ( Little Aden )

Khormaksar -Aden
Mansoora – Remi Cornish – Aden
Aden Frantel Hotel then Aden Movenpick Hotel – Khotmaksar – Aden
Aden Salt Pans – Salt Windmills of Aden – Al-Mimlah
Natural Salt Windmills built in the 50’s of the last century – Mimlah – Aden
Buraiqa Beach – Little Aden – Aden
Kod Alnamer – A Class Houses of Aden Refinery Company – Buraiqa – Aden
Buraiqa – Aden
Al-Buraiqa – Little Aden – Aden
Remi Cornich – Al-Mansoora – Aden
Sheikh Othman – Aden

Maalla – Aden – Al-Mualla 

It connects Crater, Sheikh Othman, Khormaksar and Mansoura with Tawahi district, as it is considered the gate of Tawahi, it contained a part of the Sea port and some important vital facilities, ministries and previously most of the factories and news press was located in Maalla. One of its most important features is the Main Road or Madarm Road, whose buildings were built in the fifties of the last century.

Other areas worth visiting are the Shamsan and Hadid mountains, Rimbaud House, Bomis Caves. As far as natural attractions go, its beaches are also worth checking out.

They succeeded in destroying the infrastructure of my beautiful city Aden, but they could not destroy its place in our hearts.

Written and prepared by:

Suhair Anwar Khan

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