History of Ta’izz, so beautiful as to sow discord

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Ta’izz, a city so large and prosperous that it laid the origins of the divisions between the North and South of Yemen

The words of Ibn Battuta

“The next stop was Ta’izz, the king’s residence and one of the most beautiful and largest cities in Yemen.”

Ibn Battuta


As in the case of Esfahan, also the origins of Ta’izz are to be found in a Jewish community that settled here in 130, giving life to the first city nucleus and to one of the oldest Jewish communities ever, dissolved only in 1940. Regarding the city itself, there is not much news before the arrival of the Sulayhid dynasty, who will build the castle of Qahira here in the 12th century; however, about 20 km from the city, the presence of the Al-Janad mosque, built in the 7th century by Muadh ibn Jabal, one of the Companions of the Prophet, should be noted.

Mosque Al Janad

Ta’izz was then taken in 1173 by Turan Shah who imposed the Ayyubid dominion here, allowing for the first time the city to be known even outside the Arabian Peninsula. However, it will be precisely with the fall of the latter that Ta’izz will prevail in the already rich and ancient Yemen.

The Rasulids

With the fall of the Ayyubids, the Rasulids emerged in Yemen, a dynasty that made Ta’izz its capital, creating an empire that expanded from Zafar to Mecca. In 1249, the first ruler of the Rasulids, Omar, was killed, succeeded by his son Yusuf, who confirmed himself as one of the greatest kings in the history of Yemen, transforming the city of Ta’izz and the south of Yemen into authentic paradises of wealth and nature. During his reign, schools, mosques and libraries were built, allowing the region to develop almost unparalleled in its history.

Al-Qahira Castle

It should be noted that, unfortunately, one of the negative aspects of his policy was precisely to favor the South of the country too much over the North, laying the foundations for the conflict that still involves Yemen today. Nonetheless, at his funeral, which took place after 47 years of government, even the Zaydites mourned him, his bitter enemies with whom he faced several times. With the death of Yusuf, the kingdom continued to develop but more and more slowly, so much so that, in 1454, it was conquered by the Tahirids.

The Ottomans

The latter managed in a short time to replace the Rasulids but, in 1498, the arrival of a Portuguese ship greatly complicated their plans. The neighbors Mamluks, in fact, frightened by the proximity of the possible Christian invader, sent one of their best generals to battle. Yemen thus became a battlefield between the two powers, allowing the rulers of Egypt, once triumphed, to conquer the country as well. Too bad that, in that same year, the same Mamluks were definitively defeated by the Ottomans; this will generate a strange situation of political anarchy that will end in 1538 with the arrival of Hadım Suleiman Pasha in the port of Aden.


However, the country gave them much more difficulty than expected, so much so that, at the end of the century, they were expelled and forced to sign a truce with the Zaydites, who in the meantime had also become military power in the area. In 1849, however, the Sublime Porte conquered the entire coastal region of Tihama (the one overlooking the Red Sea), forcing the fragmentary Zaydite government to sign a treaty recognizing Ottoman sovereignty and the possibility of having a garrison in Sana ‘a, capital of Yemen. With the definitive fall of the Empire, the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen was founded, which immediately clashed with the ambitions of the Al Sa’ud family, destined to become one of the main political protagonists of the area.

Contemporary era

With the death of the first king, Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din, he was succeeded by his son Ahmad, who, like his father, maintained an extremely authoritarian and semi-tribal policy, allowing the country to grow but increasingly clashing with his own neighbors. A coup d’état was foiled in 1955, but on the death of the sovereign no one could oppose the imminent political crisis, so much so that, starting from 1962, the North Yemeni Civil War took place, which ended only in 1970.

Ahmad ibn Yahya

In that same conflict, however, there was also the birth of South Yemen, which remained separated from its “Nordic” brother from 1967, the year of its foundation, until 1990, when the country finally reunited.

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