Coordinates: 15.351473, 44.215808
- Bab al yemen, Sana’a 25 meters S (183°)
- Great Mosque of Sana’a 0.20 Km NW (331°)
- Old City of Sana’a (Unesco world) 0.55 Km NW (333°)
There is no missing Souq al-Milh if you are in Sanaa. This is the main and the oldest market in the city, similar in significance to Khan Khalil in Cairo or Grand Bazaar in Tehran.
The Salt Market, as the name translates, is bustling with spices of all kinds and origins, not just salt. It is a pleasure to walk the lanes of the market, smelling in the spices. Business is brisk, as the Yemeni cuisine is liberal with spices. Whether it is to buy spices or to feel them, or even to see them and taste, the Souq al Milh is a must-see, as it forms an integral part of the culture. Traders are happy to see people and are glad to provide any help that may be asked for.
It is one of the fascinating and essential dimensions of Sanaa’s traditions and culture, as well as the rich history of Yemen. You’ll enter through Bab Al Yemen, the old gate of the ancient city of Sana’a, which is Unesco World Heritage Site. Sana’a architecture’s unique flavor is evident, and you will pass by the Janbyah shops (the Yemeni dagger), which is an integral part of the Yemeni Costume. You will see the shops selling spices and different sorts of dried foods and grains. You will also see the shops that sell the famous Yemeni coffee beans and the dried coffee beans peels (qishr). Enjoy watching the Yemeni people and their unique attire and demeanor and the captivating smiles and warmth.
When you are there, ask about the fake kaa’ba that Abraha, the king of Ethiopia, built-in Sana’s (Al qalis church) before Islam’s advent in the Arabic peninsula.
Even if you are not into shopping, don’t hesitate to go to Souk to watch the fantastic daily life scenes – man chewing qat, women shopping for clothes, bazaars promoting their goods, locals chatting and changing news, omnipresent kids fooling around and posing for cameras. Yemeni people just love to have their photos taken, so the Souq is a photographer’s paradise. Painters in the henna market can decorate your hands with henna-painting in the way adored by local women.
It’s possible to buy traditional spices; cloths; jewelry – silver and gold, with precious and semi-precious stones; antiquities; woodwork, including window frames and doors that Yemen is famous for; jambiyas (curved daggers that all Yemeni men – from kids to seniors – carry for both symbolic and practical purposes) and accessories for them; books; some souvenirs and even qat.
And if you love to shop, better come very early in the morning or before dawn, when the market is at the peak of activity. Unlike obtrusive Egypt bazaars, there’s no annoying hassling in Souq al-Milh. But like in any oriental bazaar, bargaining is more than welcome while shopping.
By yeowatzup – Souk Al Milh, San’a, Yemen, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24520820
By yeowatzup – Souk Al Milh, San’a, Yemen, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24520803
By yeowatzup – Souk Al Milh, San’a, Yemen, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24520818
By yeowatzup – Souk Al Milh, San’a, Yemen, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24520719
By yeowatzup – Souk Al Milh, San’a, Yemen, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24520826
By yeowatzup – Souk Al Milh, San’a, Yemen, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24520738