Welcome to Ad Diriyah, birthplace of the first Saudi state, historical crossroads of pilgrims and traders, and home to one of the Kingdom’s most ambitious heritage developments.
Curved along the outskirts of Riyadh, and formed on the oasis that spilt from the banks of Wadi Hanifa, Ad Diriyah’s mud-brick walls once housed a thriving desert city that was a powerhouse of culture and commerce. Its Al Turaif district, the area’s citadel-marked primary quarter, was the original seat of power for the Kingdom’s Al Saud family. In 1745, the city was named the country’s capital, laying the foundations for what would later become a unified Saudi Arabia.
Ad Diriyah fell in late 1818 at the end of the Wahhabi war and was succeeded as the nation’s capital by the nearby settlement of Riyadh. The ruins of Al Turaif were designated a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2010 and the area has since been the subject of a painstaking restoration plan aimed at bringing its historical legacy back to life. While work at Ad Diriyah is still under way, there are ample heritage-rich sites that are open to the public.
Diriyah stretches over an expanse of mixed terrain, sights, and scenes that curious wanderers can dive into, shuffle through, listen to and peek into, treasuring the effect it brings.
One of the most important open tourist destinations in the region, Al Bujairi neighborhood is distinguished by its winding alleys and its low mud houses. It’s the same place that accommodated the house of Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdulwahab, the well-known religious scholar and theologian from the Najd.
The museums in Diriyah, four of which are inside At-Turaif Quarter, offer an interactive experience through time and cultures, featuring some of the most fascinating objects from Saudi history.
Located in the historic district of At-Turaif on the outskirts of the capital city Riyadh, Diriyah Museum transforms the 18th century ruins of At-Turaif into an open air museum. At-Turaif was the birthplace of the first saudi state and was the original seat of power for the Al-Saud family. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2010 and has been undergoing a long restoration process ever since to bring back the historical legacy of the city.
The museum uses artifacts, handicrafts, and tools to showcase the history of the ruling family and the kingdom’s heritage, and tells a story about the history and development of Diriyah. A walk through this museum and the district’s streets provides an insight into what the earliest Saudi state looked like and how the ruling family used to live.
At night time, the area past the gateway is illuminated by different colored lights that combine with the newly built protective walls to give this historical place a more modern look. The museum also uses projectors, screens, and modern lighting to make it easier for the visitor to navigate their way through the mud walls of the ancient city. The museum also has a traditional market that is home to handicrafts and souvenirs dedicated to the culture of Old Diriyah.