16 December, 2010

Old Mukalla

Most houses in Mukalla are old; many, are very old. Most of the city's old buildings are in the old part - Al Salaam. Narrow streets. Very narrow. Buildings close to each other. Most, painted white. Most, four floors. All with small windows. Many windows. Made of wood. And wooden doors. Exquisitely decorated windows and doors. Some of the buildings look medieval. Are they? Yes. Some are very old and close to that period. One evening, I took these photos there:

The houses are all very close to each other.
So close that people can easily hand each other things from one building to the other.
They were built these close to each other in the olden days, so as to put the largest number of houses in one place and so as to easily protect them and cater for them.
They were built of bricks made of mud, gypsum and stones; and stones, mud and gypsum; and were normally, painted white with white-wash made from limestone. The floor of the roofs too, were mainly painted white.
White, and the way these houses were built - made the inside of these buildings cool. Much care was taken in decorating the houses.
The design was mainly that of Hadramy architecture from Wady Hadhramaut, and a little bit Indian influenced.
These houses, small or big - had many rooms; most of the rooms were small. Measuring about three meters by four meters.
Almost all the houses had the same number of floors and were of the same height.
The main reason for their having the same height, is that - a lot of activity takes place on these houses' rooftops. Women do their washing and drying of clothes and some times even cooking, on the roofs.
During summers and when it is hot, most people too - in the olden days - spent evenings and nights on these roofs. To these days, during summers, many still spend evenings and nights on the roofs.
By the houses being of more or less of the same height, made the open roof tops - private. Especially for the women.
All the houses had many windows; exquisitely decorated, pretty windows. These allowed for easy cooling of the houses.

Very unfortunately, these old, wonderful and authentic houses - are being demolished. Demolished and replaced by modern, foreign styled buildings. The old houses are disappearing fast. Old houses that gave and still gives Al Mukalla an exotic look and its authenticity and beauty.