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This is the oldest skyscraper city in the world

The 1,700-year-old town of Shibam, Yemen, showcases one of the earliest example of vertical urban planning, and is listed in the Guinness World Records as  “the oldest skyscraper city in the world.” What exactly makes this small town of only 7,000 residents so famous?

Nicknamed ”Chicago of the desert”, or ”the Manhattan of the Middle East”, the town is situated in the Ramlat al-Sab’atayn desert has unique houses made of mud brick, out of which 500 are tower blocks that rise for about 5 to 11 stories.

Shibam, Yemen
Photo: 123rf.com

The buildings originated in the 16th century and were designed to protect the residents against the attacks of the Bedouins, with many of them requiring reconstruction over the centuries. Fresh layers of mud help protect the buildings from erosion and rain.

Shibam, Yemen
Photo: 123rf.com

Despite it being located in the desert, the 2008 floods affected the foundations of many of the town’s skyscrapers, with some of them even collapsing, and it also experienced acts of terrorism, as it was the target of an Al Qaeda attack in 2009.

Lydia Peirce