By: Abdullah Hizam
Translated by: Mahmoud Assamiee
SANA'A - (Saba) - Al-Qahira Castle, located on the highest mountain in Taiz city, is a historical site has a history full of incidents affirm that it has been a battlefield for the rulers who ruled the city consecutively during the past ages. The castle was a target for controlling the city.
The castle was immune stronghold for any ruler who had taken over it as a shelter. The last of these rulers was Imam Ahmad bin Yahya Hammid Addin when he felt the danger of 1955 movement which targeted the important sites in the city but could oppress the movement and make the castle imprison for hostages who were children of Sheikhs to insure their loyalty.
Despite lack of references and documents naming and defining the history of constructing the castle, some historians see that the castle has been built before the rise of Islam. They cited with the location of the castle near many antique sites dating back to before Islam. Among of these sites is "Aqaqah" city, 5 Km away of the castle.
In the city, many manuscripts dating back to the ages of Kings of Sheba, Hadramout, Zuraidan and King Karb al Water have been found. The castle also is located on the passages of the caravans, were coming from Janad, east of Taiz city, to coastal areas, "Mocha Port".
These people see that the city is located near south-east of the castle as it is mentioned in the history of the Suleihi state. Its building style is like of the Mareb Dam and Braqish historical city. According to Yemeni archeologists, the castle has been built by unique, accurate and strange technical sense.
According to historical book entitled " Taiz City, Green Branch in the Arab History", the historical construction of the castle dates back to Sulaihi State between 426- 532 After Hijrah. The book which was written by previous Taiz Archeological Office's Director Mohammad al-Mujahed who died recently, reported that Sultan Mohammad Assulaihi is the ruler who built the castle.
While Sulais were first who built the castl, Taiz City was built after Shams Addawlah Tworan Shah, Emir of Ayoubi State, arrived at it in 1173. Taiz city was built by Ayoubis and that was why it was known "Hibat al-Ayoubieen" Arabic readings of Ayoubis's gift.
Al-Mujahed notes in his book that after Ayoubi State's era, Taiz city was expanded by Rasulieen or the State of Bani Rasul since 1229. King al-Muzafar took over it to be a capital for his country. At time pass away, the castle witnessed conflicts of consecutive states. These states were seeking taking over the castle till Tahiri State took over it in 1443 after.
In 1515, the Mamlouki campaign attacked Yemen and could entered the country through Kamaran Island overlooking the Red Sea easily. Taiz then become the homeland for Mamalik who, after controlling the castle, practiced corruption.
Sources indicates that rising Emam Sharaf Addin Yahya bin Ahmad had come to replace the Mamalik but his son al-Mutahar did not took over Taiz only in 1535.
People, rulers and elites of intellectuals gave the castle several names, some of them are common and some others are mentioned in books of history, such as al-Qala'a al-Hamra'a (Arabic reading of the red castle). This name is mentioned in the book entitled "al-Mutaber in Virtues of Jabel Saber". The title reflects its high status.
It is described in " al-Uqood Alluloiah" book as "Taiz Guarded Fortress".
Al-Mujahed says in his already mentioned book "because the hill seemed suitable for building immune fortress and there was no known name for it, it was given a name with beautiful significant "Taiz." Then this name was given to the city and the governorate. The name of the castle was exposed to change with coming of any new ruler. But the name which is remained till now is the " Qale'ah" or the castle.
Al-Qahirah Castle has witnessed historical incidents such as the atrocious genocides in 996 after Hijrah. Some of arrested people in the castle rebelled against Agha, one of the ruling families. The rebels seized the chance when the ruler of the city Saqr Agha was celebrating Juma'at Rajab in al-Janad Mosque. (Some Taizi people used to perform the first Friday prayer of Rajab month in al-Janad Mosque established by Prophet follower Moath bin Jabal who called Yemeni people for Islam). The rebels throw the Agha to the castle's dam and stoned him to death.
Other rebels seized the arms in the castle's stores. When the ruler was informed about the incident, he returned to the city and arrested the rebels and tortured them. He reported about the incident to the great ruler or Wali Hassan Basha who ordered to put rebels in bags and throw them from the hill of the castle to nearing place known as Wadi al-Madam or Madam Valley. This place is known now Ali Baba Graveyard.
Although hundreds years have been passed since constructing the castle, there are still remains reflecting the past of this castle. There is still the fence that contains housing units to servants of the palace was built there. The thickness of the fence is four meters. There are also remaining rooms and guarding places in the corners.
Inside the castle, there is water tank closed from above and widened in the bottom. The tank is eight meters long, four meters wide and ten meters deep. Furthermore there are nine ground stores for grains constructed in excellent engineering way.
The castle has been maintained several times. In Turan Shah Age, a school had been built near the castle and completed the fences of it. Al-Muthafar had expanded the castle and made three entrances, the first was for the inhabitants, the second for guests and the third led to the open gallery and was assigned for the public.
Ottomans for their part made maintenances in the southern part of the castle and used substances similar to those the castle constructed by for keeping its old form. They used stones from the place itself.
Despite efforts exerted by the General Authority for Antiquities for maintaining al-Qahira Castle, has become one of Taiz historical sites, shortage of capabilities is obstacle facing the authority's efforts for preserving antiques vulnerable to destruction.