One of Saudi Arabia’s most important ancient settlements
Visitors to Saudi cannot help but be struck but the significance of Dammam, the neighbouring town to the modern-day capital city of Riyadh
The ancient city of Diriyah is found on the western edge of Riyahd and offers a fascinating contrast to the modern, bustling metropolis that is the Saudi capital. It was founded in 1446 when travellers became aware of the fertile land on the banks of the river running through the Wadi Hanifa Valley and gave them cause to settle permanently here. The shade offered by the walls of the valley, endless supply of water and rich agricultural land have left a legacy that persists to this day.
Within Diriyah itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city of Al Turaif which dates back to 1744 and was once the world’s largest mud-built cities. A painstaking restoration process has meant visitors can take a step back in time and see, as well as learn about, one of the most important heritage sites in the whole country. Adjacent to Al Turaif is the Al Bujairy Quarter, which has been renovated to give visitors a glimpse of what life is like in traditional Saudi towns. A series of winding alleyways are home to shops, restaurants and cafes where visitors can relax and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of the quarter. Thursday nights see a display of traditional “ardha” or sword dancing which is well worth seeing if you happen to be there. Plans are afoot to link the two quarters by bridge to allow visitors to experience both areas in one day out.
A number of significant museums can be found in Diriyah as well, including the Museum of Al Saud House, a monument to the Kingdom’s ruling family and a fascinating showcase in to its history. Equally enjoyable is the Museum of the 100 Stories, which charts the history of the Kingdom as a whole whilst the Misk Heritage Museum is aimed at young Saudis’, as well as visitors, and tries to get them involved with learning about the history and heritage of the country.
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