Hababah Water Cistern – Yemen - Atlas Obscura

Hababah Water Cistern

A mesmerizing reservoir nestled at the heart of a pre-Islamic Yemeni village. 


Hababah was famous in the pre-Islamic world for being impenetrable. Little of the fortification remains today, but the houses and winding streets in this village retain the fascinating features reminiscent of Middle Eastern fairytales.

A beautiful water cistern is nestled within the heart of the village. When calm, it reflects the surrounding stone houses like a fluid mirror. Watching the images of the buildings, with their colorful doors and ornate windows, ripple whenever a gentle breeze blows is mesmerizing.

Cisterns are a classic feature in many of Yemen’s old settlements. Villagers carved the large pools out of the rock and used them to store rainwater. These reservoirs were a key water source within the parched desert and kept the land from flooding during downpours.

Even today, the cisterns are bustling places within rural villages. Visit the cistern in Hababah, and you’ll see locals emerge at the water’s edge, buckets in hand, to haul the precious resource home. Don’t be surprised if you also see a few children splashing around in the pool.

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