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Historic Jeddah
Introduction:
 
The Historic Jeddah or otherwise called the downtown Jeddah is located in the center of present Jeddah. According to sources its existence dates back to the era before Islam. The turning point in the history of the old Jeddah came about during the reign of Caliph Uthman ibn Affan, when he took her to be the port for Mecca for the arrival of pilgrims from across the sea, in the year 26H. /647CE.
 
The historic Jeddah includes a number of monuments and heritage buildings of archeological interest, such as the Old Jeddah wall and its historical courtyards, like Al Mazloom, Al Sham, Al Yemen, and Al Bahr Haras.
 
There are a number of historic mosques located in Old Jeddah, and the important among them are:  Uthman ibn Affan mosque, Al Shafi’i mosque, Al Pasha mosque, Akash mosque, Al Memar mosque and Al Hanafi mosque, in addition to these several historical markets (Souks) are found here.
 
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia represented in the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities is now preparing a file for Jeddah historic area to be registered in the World Heritage List of UNESCO. After registering Madain Saleh and the Turaif Quarter in the Historic Dir’yiah, Old Jeddah is bidding its turn. The file is likely to be discussed at the next session of UNESCO in July 2011.

 
 
 
The Old Jeddah Wall and its historic gates:
 
The historic Jeddah wall was built by a Mamluk prince, Hussain Al Kurdi in his campaign against Portuguese when wanted to fortify the city from attacks from Red Sea.  The Old Jeddah wall is fortified with a forts, towers and cannons to repel the attacking vessels. It is surrounded by a deep mote for additional fortification.  This ancient wall was build with the help of the local population. 
 
The Old Jeddah wall has two main doors, one facing Mecca the other facing the sea, and it includes 6 towers. Each tower is about 6 cubits in diameter. The wall also has six additional doors: Bab Makkah, Bab Al Madina, Bab Al Sharif, Bab Jadeed, Bab Al Bint and Bab Al Mughrabi.  At the beginning of 20th century, a new gate was added to it, and named as Bab Al Saba.  Much of the wall was replaced due to modern urbanization in the recent history.
 
 
 
Jeddah Historic Areas:
 
Jeddah historical areas: This part of the Old Jeddah, supposedly located inside the wall is divided into several neighborhoods, which are called by city dwellers by their old names plus ‘Hara’ for quarter.  These neighborhoods have gained their specific names based on their geographical location within the city or for some famous events they have witnessed. These are as follows:
 
Al Mazloom Hara: This quarter took its name after Abdul Kareem Al Barzanji, who was oppressed and killed by the Ottoman ruler of his time. The area is located in the northeastern part to the north of Al Alawi Street inside the wall. It contains some famous monuments like, Dar Al Qabil, Al Shafi’i mosque and Al Jami Souk.
 
Haret al-Sham: Located in the northern part of the inside of the fence in the direction of the Levant and in this Hara are the Dar Al Surrati and Dar Al Zahid landmarks
 
Haret Al Yemin: Located in the southern part of Al Alawi Street inside the wall. It gained its name because of its direction facing the Yemen. It includes Dar Nasif, Dar Jamjoum, Dar Al Shaarawi and Dar Al Samad.
 
Haret Al Bahr: Located in the southwestern part of old Jeddah, overlooking the Red Sea and it includes Dar Al-Radwan, which is also known as Radwan Al Bahr.
 
Krintena Hara: Hot ostracize: Located south of Jeddah it was facing the old seaport before reclamation of the shallow waters in front of it for the establishment of the Jeddah sea port and an oil refinery.  It was the main entry point for pilgrims coming by sea on their way to Mecca. It is the oldest neighborhoods of Jeddah outside the fence and inhabited these days by majority of immigrants coming from African countries and it is next to the Jeddah Southern Petroleum Refinery.
 
Haret Al million Tifl (Hara of million children): Located south of Jeddah and so named because of the large presence of children in the alleys of the neighborhood.
 
 
Historical Jeddah houses:
 
The people of Jeddah built the houses with purified stones,  which were mined from the Al Arbaeen Lake then shaped them manually with hand tools to be placed in positions suited to their sizes and then separated with wood, which was brought from neighboring areas, such as Wadi Fatima or brought it from abroad through the port (especially from India ). They also used clay, which was used for bonding the stones and compacting them into building blocks and they separated these blocks with partitions of wood called "Tkalil" for distribution of load on the walls evenly.  The old building were large and similar to the modern day concrete buildings but with much use of wooden box structures to alleviate the effects of desert climate.
 
Among the most famous and oldest existing buildings so far are, Dar Al Nassif, Dar Al Jamjoom in Haret Yemen, Dar Al Baeshen and Dar Al Gable, and Al Shafi'i mosque in Haret Al Mazloom. Dar Al Banaja, Dar Al Zahid in Haret al-Sham.  The height of some of these buildings reached more than 30 meters.  Some of these buildings are still durable and remain in good condition even after the passage of several decades post construction.
 
These dwellings were characterized by the existence of skylights ‘Mlaagaf’ in all the rooms in the houses and the use wood ornate boxes called ‘Rawash’ covering  wall openings which helped the air flow to spread around the house and also throw their shadows on the walls of the house to mitigate the heat effect.  Also these houses were built close to each other to have their windows throw shadows on one another for the same purpose of warding heat and desert sun.
 
 
 
Mosques of Historic Jeddah:
 
Al Shafi’i mosque: Located in the Al Maji Souk it is the oldest mosques in Al Mazloom Hara.  It is said that the minaret of this mosque was built in the 7th century AH, corresponding to the 13th century AD. It is a unique mosque built in tetragonal shape and its central patio with ribs is open to carry out ventilation.  The mosque has been salvaged and maintained recently and set up for prayers.
 
Othman bin Affan mosque: The mosque is called the Ebony Mosque (mentioned by Ibn Battuta, Ibn Jabir in their travelogues). This unique name is due the presence of two ebony poles that support its structure. It is located in the Al Mazloom Hara and has a huge minaret, and was built during the ninth and tenth centuries AH.
 
Al Pasha mosque: located in Haret al-Sham, it was built by a Turkish Baker Pasha, who was appointed as the ruler of Jeddah in 1735. This mosque is endowed with a particular style of minaret which makes it an archaeological landmark for the city.  The old minaret remained so, until 1978, when it was demolished and replaced with a new minaret.
 
Akash mosque: Located within the Gabel Street in the west, it was built in 1379 AH. The mosque’s construction was ordered by Akash Abaza.  Its floor was raised above the street level and stairs were built for people to reach it for prayers, which are in good condition and regular prayers held in it even today.
 
Al Mem'ar mosque: It is located in the western side of Al Alawi Street in Al Mazloom Hara and it has an old architecture.  It was built by Mustafa Mem'ar Pasha in 1384 AH. The mosque is in good condition and regular prayers are established and it has its own endowments.
 
Tomb of Sheikh Hamed Bin Nafie: It is located in, old Jeddah-Makkah Road and it is also called the Sheikh Al Assad tomb after the Sheikh Hamed Bin Nafie who was from the house of Prophet Hashemi besides his relatives extends to the Sharif Abu Maalik bin Sheikha Al Qasim, Emir of Medina. His progeny is now living in the East Sudan and they are known after the ancestor, Sheikh Hamed Bin Nafie.
 
Al Rahma mosque: Located in Al Balad above the sea level in the Jeddah Corniche.
 
King Saud Mosque: Located in downtown Jeddah, it was built in the reign of King Saud.
 
Al Juffali Mosque: Located in Al Balad area, and opposite to the Ministry of Foreign.
 
Hassan Anani mosque: It is located in the Jeddah Corniche at the intersection of East Street with Al Hamra Corniche Road.
 
 
 
Historical Jeddah Souks:
 
The area is amounted to approximately 1.5 square kilometers within the Old Jeddah wall.  It still contains touches of the traditional life and its socio-economic nature. The Souks are currently concentrated around the mosques and markets where there are some traditional folk crafts shops. Among the most famous markets belonging to the region’s historical past constituting region’s vital economic lifeline are:
 
Souk Al Aluwi,
Souk Al Baddu,
Souk Gabil,
Souk Al Nada.
 
 
 
Other important souks and market yards from the historical Jeddah are:
 
Souk Al Samak (Fish Market) also known as Souk Banghla.
Vegetable and Butchers market in Al Nawareeya area located at the end at of Gabil Street to the east.
Souk Al Kabeer, where fabrics are sold in large and small shops usually crowded and luxury fabrics of different kinds are sold.
Souk Khasikeeya, it is located behind Dar Sheikh Mohammad Naseef.
Souk Al Nada, most of its shops sell shoes.
Al Jami Souk connected to Al Shafi’i Mosque.
Souk Al Hababa, it is located in Bab Makkah.
Souk Al Haraj "Auction Market", it is located in Bab Sharif.
Souk Al Baddu (Bedouin market). It is located in Bab Makkah and sells everything that attracts the population of desert.
Souk Al Asr (Afternoon market). It located in Bab Sharif and market is held every day at the Asr "afternoon" time.
Souk Al Baragea, in which donkey, horse and mule saddles are sold in the Sharbatly Building.
Souk Al Sabhea. It is located in Al Khasikeeya area, where rosaries were made and sold.
Khanats of historic Jeddah: Khanats are also called as Khesareeyas that refer to any market that consists of a set of shops located close and opposite to each other. The most important Khanat in historic Jeddah area are Khan al Hunood (Indian shops), Khan Al Casbah (Textile shops), Khan Al Dalaleen (Auctioneers shops) and Khan Al Atareen (Perfume shops).
 
 
 
Old Jeddah Cemetery:
 
Moqbara Umna Hawwa (Mother Eve’s Tomb): It is located in the center of the city and it is believed that Al Hawwa, Adam’s spouse Eve, humankind’s mother died and buried here in this cemetery.
 

Last update: 7/1/2012 8:39 AM