With Jebel Nugum towering over it, Sana'a sits on the narrowest point of a major mountain plateau, (2.286 metres) above sea level. The region's volcanic origin and regular rainfall make it fertile and it enjoys a temperate climate throughout the year with the occasional sharp frost in the small hours of winter nights. One legend tells of its founding by Shem the son of Noah.
The old walled city of Shibam is named after king Shibam Bin Harith Ibn Saba who ruled from here. It was a major city on the overland spice and incense route.
Sana'a is a great place for people-watching and culture observing. The unhurried pace of Yemeni life, coupled with the almost total lack of industrialisation seen in nearby countries, means that it's quite possible to pull up a chair in a coffee shop and watch the world go by for hours on end.