Dar al-Hajar stands atop a protruding rock formation in Wadi Dhahr, a fertile and pleasant valley of small villages and clay-walled orchards. Pictured in many books about Yemen, it has become a symbol of the country itself.
Imam Yahya (1911-48) built the five-storey palace in the 1930s as a summer residence. Building a palace in such an extraordinary place was not his idea; there were already ruins of a prehistoric building on top of the hill. The well penetrating the rocks next to the house is said to date from then. This summer palace of Imam Yahya is actually a group of palaces famous for its delightful location and its beautiful gypsum ornamentation in the Sana'a style.