History & Evolution
Originally Riyadh was located along a green river bed that in addition to
sources of underground water allowed a rich agriculture. This settlement
which was historically famous for its dates and orchards was called Hajar in
The important face of the citys history started at the end of 18th
century when Riyadh became a part of First Saudi State with capital at
Diriyah. Soon Turks destructed Diriyah moving the capital to Riyadh in 1824.
However, after much conflicts and collisions, the city was eventually
seized by Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud in 1902 who then went on to
establish the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia making Riyadh the new
recognized capital of the nation in 1932. Though the diplomatic capital
remained at Jeddah until 1982 when in 1985 all government offices and
foreign embassies were moved from Jedda to Riyadh.
Riyadh like most other cities of Saudi Arabia has wealth of historical
monuments and architectures that tells the story of the countrys
history. The city is also home to number of museums that preserve the
remnants of its culture and heritage.
But this is just the one side of the coin as the other part of the city an
ultra modern metropolis with ultramodern multiplexes and high-rise
skyscrapers like Al Faisaliah Tower, Kingdom Tower and Abraj Atta'Awuneya
Besides Riyadh by name itself means gardens and oases. Therefore, the city
has everything a tourist can ask for.
The Masmak Castle (Qasr al-Masmak):
Built in 1865 under the reign of Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Rasheed, Masmak
is the site associated with the foundation of Saudi Arabian kingdom. Today
the castle is one among several buildings that form the King Abd al-Aziz
Historical Center, a series of restored buildings in Riyadh.
Lying in the center of the city in the old quarters, the fort is dominated
by a square-based Al-Murabba tower in the center along with four watchtowers
and thick walls. Its 3.65m high and 2.65m wide palm tree gate is named as
al-Khokha. The castle encloses a mosque and a well too.
The interior roofs of the fort are covered with painted palm-tree, taramic
and Ethel wood while the communicating doors of the rooms and courtyards are
also of painted wood. The building received some important renovation in the
1980s and became a museum in 1995, which displays many antique guns,
costumes and agriculture artifacts.
Al-Bathaa, City Center
The Kingdom Center:
The tallest building in Saudi Arabia and built to an unusual elliptical
award-winning design, Kingdom Center is indeed the place to see and be seen
in central Riyadh.
A Saudi prince owns this remarkable tower which besides containing modern
offices, apartments, the Four Seasons Hotel and a fitness club, also houses
a state-of-the art three-level shopping mall with more than 160 stores.
The center also bristles with dozens of first class international
Al-Urubah Road, Olaya Business District
Riyadh Museum of History & Archaeology:
The chief museum among the numerous others in Riyadh, Museum of History &
Archaeology besides showcasing local art, religion and culture, also
displays the diverse and intriguing history of Arabian kingdoms in eight
It covers the history of the nation right from the Stone Age to early
Islam, which are explained both in English and Arabic. There is also a
separate Ethnographic Hall. The artifacts include clothing, weapons,
jewellery & musical instruments.
West of Old City Center, Al-Bathaa
Al Murabbaa Palace:
An another principal component of King Abdulaziz Historical Center, Al
Murabbaa Palace is situated just outside the original city walls.
Built in 1946 by King Abdul Aziz as a home and seat of government, the
palace has been preserved as a living example of Arabian royal life.
This Palace cum fortress includes the King Faisal Center for Research and
Islamic Studies, which usually conducts an exhibition on some aspect of
Islamic art or culture. Wherein, there is also a permanent exhibition on the
treatment and preservation of old books and manuscripts.
The ground floor of the palace has guardrooms and storerooms, while the
reception salons, political offices and private apartments can be found