World Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia

Hasa oasis area (World Heritage)

Hasa oasis area (World Heritage)

Anyone who thinks of an oasis as a small green watering hole in the middle of wide desert landscapes does not know Hasa (Al-Ahsa) in the east of Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest oases in the world and the oldest in the Middle East. Traces of settlement can already be found here from the Neolithic (5000 BC). The oasis area consists of several cities and communities. The center of tradition is the university town of Hofuf with around 700,000 residents. Its landmark is the Fort Qasr Ibrahim, built in 1551 under the rule of the Ottomans, with its high fortification towers and meter-thick mud walls.

Adaptation to extremes: The most important branch of industry in the oasis area is agriculture, besides the oil industry. The date palm groves with around 2.5 million trees are the largest on the Arabian Peninsula. The basis of the water supply is formed by around 30 artesian springs, from which the water rises to the surface. However, as the groundwater level continues to sink, the precious water is now pumped up from the depths and distributed over a network of canals. The cultivation areas are also drained via canals. They flow into so-called evaporation lakes on the eastern edge of the oasis.

Hasa oasis area: facts

Official title: Hasa Oasis (Al-Ahsa), a developing cultural landscape
Cultural monument: Oasis area with old gardens, a complex irrigation system with canals, wells, evaporation basins and drainage lakes as well as urban structures, historical buildings and archaeological sites
Continent: Asia
Country: Saudi Arabia
Location: in the east of the Arabian Peninsula, near the coast of the Persian Gulf
Appointment: 2018
Meaning: outstanding testimony to the long history of the development of the oasis region and settlement in the Gulf region since the Neolithic Age

Old town of Jeddah (World Heritage)

With over 3 million residents, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia behind Riyadh can look back on a long history. Located on the eastern coast of the Red Sea, historical Jeddah was founded in pre-Islamic times. In the 7th century, the Bay of Jeddah – conveniently located behind a coral reef – was chosen as the port for Mecca, through which the Indian Ocean’s trade routes from then on ran.

With that, Djidda quickly gained in importance. Since then, Mecca has not only purchased a lot of goods via the port city – Djidda also represented the gateway to Mecca for Muslim pilgrims who had arrived by sea. In this dual role, the city developed into a flourishing multicultural center that was characterized by a distinctive architectural tradition. These included, for example, the characteristic tower houses built by the merchant elite from the late 19th century.

Old town of Jeddah: facts

Official title: Old town of Jeddah – “The Gate to Mecca”
Cultural monument: Old town of modern Djidda, including tower-like houses with wooden-barred bay windows from the 18th and 19th centuries as well as the restored Nasif house and the Al-Shafee mosque
Continent: Asia
Country: Saudi Arabia
Location: Jeddah, on the Red Sea about 70 km west of Mecca
Appointment: 2014
Meaning: Multicultural center, which was characterized by a unique architecture

Saudi Citadel and City of At-Turaif (World Heritage)

The site northwest of Riyadh was the first Saudi capital. It was founded in the 15th century, and its political importance grew in the 18th and 19th centuries. At the center of power was the citadel of At-Turaif. From here the Islamic reform movement of the Wahhabis spread.

Saudi Citadel and City of At-Turaif: Facts

Official title: Historical area of ​​At-Turaif in Ad-Dir’iyah
Cultural monument: Oasis settlement founded in the 15th century in the center of the Arabian Peninsula northwest of Riyadh with a large number of former palaces, an outstanding citadel and urban ensembles in clay architecture on 0.29 km²; Former capital of the Saud dynasty, built in the style of Najd architecture and, in the 18th and 19th centuries, the center of the Wahhabis and the House of Saud
Continent: Asia
Country: Saudi Arabia
Location: Ad-Dir’iyah, Central Saudi Arabia
Appointment: 2010
Meaning: Unique ensemble of the early Saudi royal family and the first Saudi state; extraordinary testimony to an architecture adapted to the desert conditions

Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (World Heritage)

The rock town of Al-Hijr, the ancient Hegra, is an important settlement of the Nabataeans. They built the settlement in the 1st century BC. Into a splendid city. Today there are more than 100 monumental graves and the sanctuary of Jabal Ithlib north of the city. Inscriptions, fountains and cave drawings from earlier times were also discovered.

Al-Hijr Archaeological Site: Facts

Official title: Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)
Cultural monument: Monumental archaeological site in northwest Saudi Arabia on the site of the former trading metropolis of Hegra; extensive ensemble of burial sites carved in sandstone rocks of the Nabataeans (north-west Arab tribe with capital Petra in today’s Jordan) from the time of 100 BC To 100 AD; 111 rock graves with mostly decorated entrances and facades as well as with inscriptions about builders and buried persons in Aramaic and Thamudic languages; in addition, accommodations carved into the rocky landscape as well as inscriptions from the pre-Abatean period with rock paintings; also traces of irrigation systems of the Nabataeans; Part of a larger archaeological site of approx. 15 km²
Continent: Asia
Country: Saudi Arabia
Location: Near the Ula (Dedan) oasis, approx. 400 km north of Medina
Appointment: 2008
Meaning: Exceptional and well-preserved evidence of an ancient people and their architectural achievements; unique, monumental rock tombs built with great skill; Evidence of early irrigation systems; Documents of an important ancient trade route from the Mediterranean to Arabia and Asia and the related cultural exchange

Al-Hijr Archaeological Site: History

6th century BC Chr. Immigration of the nomadic people of the Nabataeans to Edom
5th / 4th Century BC Chr. Establishment, formation of a kingdom and control of the trade routes from southern Arabia to the Mediterranean area.
Irrigated agriculture in the loess areas of the Negev
312 BC Chr. Wars against the general Antigonus I. Monophthalmos, then expansion of power to Syria
1st century BC Chr. Conquest of Damascus by King Aretas III. (87-62 BC); Commercial metropolis Hegra (today Madain Salih), capital Petra, both desert cities difficult to access
106 ad Conversion of the kingdom of the Nabataeans into the Roman province of Arabia Petraea under Emperor Trajan

Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (World Heritage)