Jami' Shibam al-Kabir
Shibam, Yemen
Located at the heart of the old city surrounded by towering mud brick houses, the Great Mosque of Shibam was originally built in 753. Much of the mosque as seen today, is thought to have been built in the fourteenth century. The presence of red baked bricks, typical of ninth century Abbasid construction, point to reconstruction efforts during the reign of Caliph Harun al-Rashid; this is the only site in Shibam where baked bricks are found.

The mosque affronts a popular public square near the entrance of the old walled city and the main souq, or covered bazaar. Oriented along the east-west axis, the mosque consists of a rectangular prayer hall preceded by an arcaded courtyard to the east. The courtyard, entered primarily from the south, is six bays long and five bays wide with round and pointed arches. Wooden beams support the flat roofs of the courtyard and the prayer hall. The columnar structure, which is three bays deep, is continued from the courtyard into the prayer hall. Rising to a height of eight meters, the interior columns are capped by capitals featuring palmette motifs. The prayer hall ceiling is decorated with ornately painted and carved panels. All exterior surfaces of the mosque are whitewashed with either crushed gypsum or limestone.

The original minaret, constructed at the same time as the mosque, was at the southeast corner. The current minaret, built at the same location, is from the sixteenth century.


Breton, Jean-Francois and Christian Darles. "Shibam and the Wadi Hadramaut." In MIMAR: Architecture in Development, No 18. Singapore: Concept Media Ltd, 1985.

Damluji, Salma Samar. The valley of mud brick architecture: Shibam, Tarim & Wadi Hadramut, 88, 118-119, 130-132, 151. Reading: Garnet, 1992.

King, Geoffrey and Ronald Lewcock. "Arabia." In Architecture of the Islamic World: its history and social meaning, edited by George Michell, 211. New York: Morrow, 1978.

Lewcock, Ronald B.. Wadi ?a?ramawt and the walled city of Shibam, 49-50. Paris: UNESCO, 1986.
Shibam, Yemen
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753/135 AH, expanded 14th c./8th c. AH
Style Periods
Variant Names
al-Jami' al-Kabir
Great Mosque of Shibam
Building Usages