Historical Diriyah

The birth place of the Saudi Kingdom

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Historical Diriyah (or Addiriyadh using local pronunciation) is the historical home of the Saudi state. Having been sacked by the Ottomans in the 19th century, and neglected in the 20th century, King Abdullah decided that it should be renovated and preserved, and as such is the largest heritage program in the kingdom. The plans for it are so impressive that UNESCO have declared it a World Heritage Site.

Religious and Secular, Ancient and Modern

There are two sides to the site, one religious and one secular. This mirrors the past, with he Al Saud on one side of the wadi, whilst the Al Wahhab were on the other. Through this close proximity they agreed on the way forward for the unification of a Saudi state.

Greenery in the wadi hint at the agricultural origins of Historical Diriyah

Greenery in the wadi hint at the agricultural origins of Historical Diriyah

The origins of Addiriyah lay with a collection of farms around the oasis of the wadi, and there are several still operating today on the approach to the site.

On first seeing the site, one side looks more modern than the other. Here there is a centre for Islamic studies, along with terraces, restaurants and shops where people can come and soak up some of the atmosphere of the site in a traditional environment – the look is very much in keeping with the idea of heritage.

The modern side of Historical Addiriyah, showing the Islamic centre, the terraces, restaurants and shopping area

The modern side of Historical Addiriyah, showing the Islamic centre, the terraces, restaurants and shopping area

A bridge over the wadi road allows access to the 'royal' side of Historical Addiriyah

A bridge over the wadi road allows access to the 'royal' side of Historical Addiriyah

Crossing the wadi by modern bridge brings visitors to the mud brick buildings on the ‘royal’ side.

Preservation, Renovation, Restoration

It is immediately noticeable that many of the buildings have been preserved rather than renovated. This is due to there being no precise record of how tall the buildings were, and the desire to keep renovations as authentic as possible.

The Salwa Palace at Historical Addiriyah has been preserved rather than restored

The Salwa Palace at Historical Addiriyah has been preserved rather than restored

See the Euronews clip about Historical Addiriyah here

The buildings and palaces that remained structurally intact have been renovated and people can explore them inside and out.

The glass walls of the museums at Historical Addiriyah allow visitors to walk through the buildings in air conditioned comfort

The glass walls of the museums at Historical Addiriyah allow visitors to walk through the buildings in air conditioned comfort

Amongst these mud brick buildings there are four museums hidden, designed so as not to impede on the site. The walls are glass, as are sections of the walkways, and all are air conditioned, so that the site can be viewed and enjoyed without to much interference from modern structures.

For full details about the project, click here

Due to open to the public in 2017, there will be rooms for families to hire for the day so they can explore at their leisure, as well as a variety of restaurants and eating areas, and shops.

Walkways into the palaces at Historical Addiriyah allow people to get close without causing damage

Walkways into the palaces at Historical Addiriyah allow people to get close without causing damage

Highlighting the Past

There will be a variety of ways that knowledge will be passed on: through traditional display boards, through interactive screens, light and sound shows, as well as through archaeological exhibits.

The Historical Addiriyah Development Program has embraced many modern schools of thought in its approach to highlighting the past. This promises to be a fascinating way to spend a day.

Mosques ancient and modern at Historical Addiriyah

Mosques ancient and modern at Historical Addiriyah

Tours operating in Historical Diriyah

LOGO - Amazing Tours

(click on the logo to visit the tour's website)



The birth place of the Saudi Kingdom (author: Andy Conder)

About the Author

Andy Conder has lived in Saudi Arabia for over six and a half years. During that time he has travelled to the north, south, east and west of the country, over the sand dunes and under the water. "Whilst Riyadh is the place to be for work, it is only when people get out to the more provincial and desert areas that they will see Saudi Arabia in its true splendour. Most people who arrive for the first time have no idea of the variety of life in the kingdom." Having been involved with restaurants in London, and having reviewed establishments in Cape Town and Dubai, Andy is knowledgeable about what people want when they go out to eat, and he is happy to guide people through the confusing array of restaurants that are found in Saudi Arabia.