Seiyun is the largest town of the Wadi Hdramout and the provincial capital and main government, commercial and communications centre. It is known for the fabulous palm groves that surround it and for its old market where traditional crafts such as jewellery are still practiced.
The town, which has a history going back thousands of years, probably owes its origin to this market, once and important stopping place on the early trade route that ran east through Wadi Masila and on to Shihr on the coast. Over many years the gathering of people here led to an urban centre being developed with houses, mosques and schools.
In 1494 there was an influx of people of the Hamdani tribes from north of Sana'a. Their leader was Amir Badr Ibn Tawariq Kathiri, the ancestor of the Kathiri Sultans who ruled from their capital here from 1516 until independence from the British in 1967.
The massive Sultan's Palace, with its four corner towers, stands in the oldest part of Seiyun, nest to the busy market;
it is the largest mud-brick building in the Wadi Hadramout and an outstanding example of mud architecture. It was built in 1873, rebuilt in 1926 by Mansur bin Ghalib al Kathiri and whitewashed by his son Ali in 1935. Today it houses a museum of archaeology with finds from Raybun, one of Yemen's most important ancient sites as well as exhibits on popular traditions, folklore and costumes. It also includes objects from the colonial days.
*(source: Ministry of tourism)