Al-Abbas mosque

One of the oldest and best preserved Yemen’s cube shaped mosque, A building with great cultural and historic value

Asnaf, Yemen

Coordinates: 15.219968, 44.422977

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Al-Abbas Mosque (Grand mosque Asnaf) was built in the rugged mountain of Yemen around 900 years ago. It’s one of the oldest and best-preserved Yemen’s cube-shaped mosque. A building with great cultural and historical value, The mosque lies on the side of the pre-Islamic temple. Although isolated, it is still used as meeting places by local villagers as it has been for over 1000 years.


Recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004, Part of its uniqueness comes from its Kufic inscription that reveal the exact date of its construction and the name of those who built it. Its true wonder lies in the wooden ceiling, carved and decorated with richly colour floral and geometric patterns

The four ceiling section contains a series of inverted pyramids, One with stairs indicating the seven layers of Heaven. This masterpiece could have ended up in the museum, instead, it was lovingly restored and retained in the mosque where it belongs.


The restoration project established by the Yemeni government in 1985 brought together local and foreign experts and took over three years to complete. The emphasis was placed on traditional techniques with modern technology used only in cleaning and protection of the delicate wooden ceiling.

The restoration was based in minimum intervention with parts of the original decoration left untouched. Externally a traditional plaster called qadad was used to fix the roof.
Earlier repairs to walls were removed and replaced with bricks that match the originals.

Al-abbas mosque is an active place of worship, not a dead relic. But a sacred site that still breathes with the culture of Yemen’s people.

The project revived traditional building practices and combined them with modern science setting a new standard for restoration. Importantly the integrity of the original building was retained, safeguarding a tiny monument with huge significance for future generations.