The birth place of the Saudi Kingdom
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tour operators organizing trips in Historical Diriyah
The birth place of the Saudi Kingdom (author: Andy Conder)