Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia

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Dir'iyah
 
The historic district of Al Dir'iya is in the northwest part of the city of Riyadh, located on the west bank of Wadi Hanifa, deep vally.  It is an ancient historic town that dates back to the mid-9th century Hijri when Gusaibah Manie Bin Rabiah Al-Meridi quarter was established, the oldest quarter of Dir'aiyah (named after Bin Rabiah Al Mardi, a relative of Ben Dirie, the owner of Yammama Stone).
 
Ever since, the town has been expanding due to the importance of its geographical location and its centrality in the Arabian Peninsula. In the middle of the twelfth century Hijri (18th century CE), Imam Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab - who was born in the family of Al-Saud, arrived in Dir'aiyah when he found in the person of Imam Mohammed Ibn Saud, a good synergist and pro to reform call and revival if the Sunnah – (way of life of Prophet Muhammad (pbu)). And hence, God wanted to make Dir'aiyah a Center of guidance and a starting point for the building of a guided State on the strong pillars of Islam.
 
The interesting part of old Dir'aiyah is the Turaif Quarter, which is remarkably preserved. This was the headquarters of the Saudi ruling family. The wall of Dir'aiyah, interspersed with some defensive forts was built during the reign of Imam Abdul Aziz Ibn Muhammad Ibn Saud to avert the threat of aspirants of Dir'aiyah. The total length of the wall is about 7 kilometers, where the wall at its maximum height is built with small stones as a base balancing the larger stones, further bound with layers of mud plaster.

 
Masmak Palace
 
It's a strongly-protected castle with thick walls, located in the old quarter of the Riyadh City Centre. At the beginning of the twentieth century (January 1902), the beginning of 1319 Hijri, this castle was witness to a decisive battle when the Turkish rulers were defeated by the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz Al Saud. And then, after the conquest of Riyadh, subsequent strategic expansions lead to the creation of Saudi Arabia.

 
Al-Muraba Palace
 
Another monument of historic value in the heart of the Riyadh city, surrounded by vast and well manicured gardens is the Al Muraba Place. It was constructed by late King Abdulaziz following the settlement of matters in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, when the country was unified in the year 1351H (1932G). The palace was built in the rectangle shape – 300 meter as length and 400 meter as width with two levels as height. The roof is made of local building materials - mud and palm trees. Just across the palace is a well laid garden which forms  the park of the National Museum, Riyadh’s main museum of heritage and antiquities.


Shoubra Palace
 
The palace was built in the year 1325 H (1907G), as the first historical palace in the beautiful city of Taif. It represents distinctive architectural elements and one of the important historic milestones in the city of Taif. It has been converted to a Heritage and Antiquities Museum in subsequent time.

 
Saggaf Palace
 
It is situated in Mecca – Ma'abdah Quarter, Al-Abtah Road. It is one of the oldest buildings in Mecca distinguished by the Islamic architecture with many decorative Islamic architectural and technical elements. This palace is a huge building comprising of two levels with main entrance as a gate in the middle of the northern façade. It has two minor entrances in the main wall and in the north-eastern side there is a fortress-shaped building or military tower with rectangular skylights and ventilations.


Khuzam Palace

The name Khuzam is given to a wide area in Al-Nuzlah Alyamaniah Quarter in Jeddah. There are many old palaces in this area and the name was given after the name of late King Abdulaziz Palace. The construction process of the palace began in the year 1347H (1928G), and completed by 1351H (1932G). The palace consisted of a two storey building and many associated buildings on the southern and western sides that form one adjacent unit and with fences of three meters high. The palace is built with solid limestone brought from the sea coast and part of the palace is converted as a museum of Antiquities and Heritage.


Nassif House

It is located in the heart of the old city of Jeddah. This house was built at the end of the 13th Hejiri (1289H /1872G), and was built by Omar Afandi Nassif. It was built of stones and contains four floors and has an external decoration using colored tiles and lattice design of carpentry work of door and windows, as well as frescoes and ornamented. Each floor is composed of large and small rooms. The house is considered to be unique in style of architecture for that time.


Al-Ula

Al-Ula town is located in the north-western part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia between Al-Madina and Tabuk. Al-Ulah in the past was known as (Dydan). It is one of the biggest old urban areas located on the main trade route. Al-Ula acted as a crossroad between the civilizations of India and the south of the Arabian Peninsula and civilizations of Sham (Syria), Egypt and Iraq in the north since the old time until the first century B.C. Legend has it that the sun of this town vanished when Anbatt conquered the north of the Arabian Peninsula and Al-Ula fell to ruins as conquerors took Al Hajar town as their second capital. Here, there are a number of tombs built and engraved in different engineering shapes such as Dydan, Muaieni, Lehyania, Thomodiah and Nabtiah decorations. Also, there is debris of ruined dam nearby with length of 750 meter. One of the Islamic archaeological sites in Al-Ula is the fortress on the top of Al Musa Hill named after the famous Leader Musa Bin Naseer.


Old Eimarah Palace in Al-Ras

It is located in the middle of Al-Ras Province and was constructed for over more than 100 years. It was made of mud and adobes with palm tree and Othel wood for roof. The late King Abdulaziz visited this palace and spent many days following the event of Al-Sublah in the year 1348H (1929G). One may see a few decorative samples in the sitting-rooms, Arabian Majlis, in the palace.


Al-A'asda Village

Al-A'asda village is located on the mountain face on a low height – an area of 250x500 meters. It passes from the north to south and could be reached via Mokhwaha road – from Mecca. The village consists of many houses that are built of one to many rooms, in addition to the wide spaces and yards. The houses were constructed with stones without using the mortar. The thickness of their walls varies from 60 – 110cm.


In the middle of the village there is a huge palace, whose length is 20 x 20 meter and it is still in good shape. Its outside wall is supported by 12 pillars in order to give it strong support. The site has two cemeteries – the first one is 50 meter away in the north of the village with an area of 100x200 meters. Some calligraphic writings in the simple Kofi style are found on some graves that belonged to the early Islamic era. The second cemetery is 150 meters away in the north of the first cemetery – with an area of 170x80 meter. One may see calligraphic signs written in the embroiled Kofi writing on some graves that belonged to the 13th and 14th Hejiri Centuries.

 
Eimarah Palace in Najran

The traditional architecture in Najran region is distinguished by the mud houses and palaces that are considered as the best sample of the traditional architecture in the world. An example for this unique architectural style is the Eimarah Palace in "Aba Saud" reflecting the beauty of the architecture in the area. Eimarah Palace was constructed in the year 1361H (1942G) during the time of Prince Turki Bin Mohammed Al-Madhi. It is used as the office for the governorate and accommodation for the Governor and his family and his guards.

 
The thick walls of the palace were built of mud with narrow doors and high windows for keeping moderate temperature throughout the year as well as facilitating the defense process. The roofs were covered by palm tree branches coated with mud. There are rooms sixty rooms in it – most of these were used as government offices and private office for the Governor. The place is surrounded by high walls and supported with circle-shaped towers in the four corners. The date of construction of the well supplying water to the palace belongs to the period prior to Islam, as at the bottom of the well inside its precincts is a proof as it was built with the red material, a style abandoned in the post Islamic period.

 
Eieiraif Fortress

It is the oldest archaeological building in Hail. Its strategic location is on the top of a hill and it is represented as the oldest traditional buildings in Hail – that makes it an important landmark for the city.

 
Souk Al Majlis (Divan Heritage Souk)

Souk Al Majlis, an old heritage market place, has received the award of “Urban Heritage Preservation” from His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz. Souk Al Majlis or the Divan Heritage Souk is one of the components of the old town Al Maznab. It lies 7 kilometers from the urban center of the city. This location is well known as Al Derah district. Al Maznab Township itself is located to the south-east of Al Qaseem Province, between longitude 44.00, 45.00 and latitude 25.30, 26.00, as one of the key townships in the Province of Al Qaseem.

 
The area of the town is about 2 square kilometers. It contains more than 384 houses of various sizes while the old Divan Souk and the Masque of Bahla Palace are forming the starting point for the district and its main center.

 
Architectural Fabric: The town consists of a number of districts divided across through a number of interlaced roads and passages. While the town takes the shape of a strip indenting towards north direction due to a number of natural factors.
 
Old Souk: The old souk is located in the center of the town along the main road which is asphalted. The Old Souk is repetitively witnessing many summer events, monthly auctions, folklore presentations and similar regalia.

 
Kaf in Al-Jouf

Kaff, means a fortified castle on the coast of Syria by Yagout Caf, near Al-Jaballah area and it belonged to some one called Ibn Omaro in the era of Firinjah. Kaf village is located on the latitude 28 -31 and longitude 30 – 37. It was the area-base in the region until the year 1357H (1938G).

 
An English traveler called Blunt had visited this village and he wrote, “Kaf village is small and friendly with distinct properties that can be noticed by anybody visiting Syria. It consisted of 16 square small houses and towers with walls that are seven feet high.” This feature gives a unique appearance to the area. 


Al-Sa'airi Hill

On the top of this hill there are remains of a water pool fenced by a wall which was repaired during the era of Al-Sha'allan and it has a portal of black stone. A small statue of copper of a sheep was found in the village (Al-Eiqaillah) towards the north. Still there are some war remains in the area covered with sand. In Al-Eiqaillah there are underground passages that bring water from an unknown source.

 
Um Al-Ajras Village

It is located in the west of Al-Eiqaillah near Al-Ajras hill. The reason for this name, Um Al-Jaras (village of bells) was the presence of ringing bells at the top of the mountain, when there was a danger, the bells would be made to ring. At the top, there is a room made of black stones, inside which there is a stone image of a bull’s head.

 
Al-Hadeetha

It is an old village near by a port in the east. There are remains of walls made of stones and underground passages. Also there are two wells clad with stones and the diameter of each one is one meter – with some channels are built with black stones. In the east of this village on the Hassirah valley in Rashrariyah, there is what may be the ruins of an old palace and a stone bridge interrupting the valley. Several round shaped carvings are found on the edges of surrounding hills.