Historical Old Jeddah

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Introduction:
 

The Historical Old Jeddah or otherwise called the downtown Jeddah is located in the heart 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, in the year 26H. /647CE, when he took her to be the sea port of Holy City Makkah facilitating regional commerce as well as receiving Hajj and Umrah pilgrims. .
 
The historic Jeddah includes a number of monuments and heritage buildings of archeological interest, such as the Old Jeddah wall and its historical open squairs, 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 National Heritage (SCTH) had prepared 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 had its turn. The file for its inclusion in the WHL was discussed in a session of UNESCO in July 2011.

 
 
 
 
The Old Jeddah Wall and its historic gates:
 
The historic Jeddah wall was built by Mamluk prince, Hussain Al Kurdi in his campaign against Portuguese when he wanted to fortify the city from the attacks from the 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 active participation of the local population. 
 
The Old Jeddah wall has two main doors, one facing the Holy Makkah, and 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 with an addition, ‘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:
 
Haret Al Mazloom: 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 of old district 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 inside of the fence in the direction of the Levant. In this Hara are located Dar Al Surrati and Dar Al Zahid landmarks
 
Haret Al Yemin: Located in the southern part of Al Alawi Street inside the wall. This is named so 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: It is 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 Makkah. 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 this neighborhood. 
 
 
 
 
Historical Jeddah houses:
 
The people of Jeddah built houses using rectified stones, which were mined from the nearby Al Arbaeen Lake then shaped them manually with hand-tools and placed in positions according to their sizes, separated by wooden planks.  The wood planks were brought from the neighboring areas like Wadi Fatima or brought directly from abroad through the sea port (especially from India). They also used clay, which was used for bonding the stones and compacting them into building blocks. The separating or partitioning wooden planks were called "Tkalil" which were for distribution of load on the walls evenly. The old buildings were large and similar to the modern concrete buildings, and they almost all had roshans made of wooden 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 and the use wood ornate boxes called ‘Roshans’ covering the wall openings which controlled the air flow to spread it all around the house and also throw their shadows on the adjacent walls of the house to mitigate the effect of heat in summer.  Also these houses were built close to each other to have their windows thrown on the next building to ward of heat from the 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 it 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 on 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 on old Jeddah-Makkah Road. It is also called as Sheikh Al Assad tomb. The Sheikh Hamed Bin Nafie was from the house of Prophet who is also called Hashemi, besides his relation extends to Sharif Abu Maalik bin Sheikha Al Qasim, Amir 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: It is located in Al Balad built above the sea level in Jeddah Corniche.
 
King Saud Mosque: It is located in downtown Jeddah, and it was built in the reign of King Saud.
 
Al Juffali Mosque: It is located in Al Balad area opposite to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
 
Hassan Anani Mosque: It is located in the Jeddah Corniche at the intersection of Eastern Street with Al Hamra Corniche Road.
 
 
 
 
Historical Jeddah Souks:
 
The area is around approximately 1.5 square kilometers within the Old Jeddah wall.  It still contains touches of traditional life and socio-economic nature. The Souks are currently concentrated around the mosques and markets where there are some traditional craft-shops. Among the most famous markets belonging to the region’s historical past that forms the vital economic lifeline in the area 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  desert population.
Souk Al Asr (Afternoon market). It located in Bab Sharif and market is held every day after 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 are 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 heart of the city and it is believed that Al Hawwa, Adam’s spouse Eve, humankind’s mother is buried here in this cemetery.