2012 World Monuments Watch
The hammam al-Mudhaffar is the oldest surviving public bath complex in Yemen. The hammam, together with the mosque, were built in the late thirteenth century during the Rasulite period in Ta'izz, and were named for their patron, Yusuf al-Mudhaffar. The buildings were constructed of stone and brick and topped with domes covered by a traditional waterproofing material called qadad. The hammam contains two baths, only one of which is still functioning. The roof over this bath is in poor condition and is leaking, and will likely deteriorate if no action is taken. There has been little regular maintenance at the hammam due to a lack of funds and expertise in the region. Historically significant and notable examples of Islamic architecture from this period, the mosque and hammam represent both the tangible and intangible heritage of Yemen. Visitors travel from rural areas to the baths, some in search of healing, others attend as a ritual before a wedding. Preliminary research and documentation has been partially completed at both buildings, but further investigation is required before full restoration of the hammam using traditional materials and techniques can be completed. It is hoped that inclusion on the Watch will raise awareness of Rasulite heritage and rejuvenate interest in the living tradition of the hammam. The project could serve as an example for the restoration of other significant monuments in Ta'izz.