Diriyah

Diriyah

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Diriyah'
Start a new discussion about 'Diriyah'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Al-Diriyah is a town in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 located on the northwestern outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh
Riyadh
Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 5,254,560 people, and the urban center of a...

. Diriyah was the original home of the Saudi royal family, and served as the capital of the first Saudi dynasty
First Saudi State
The First Saudi State was established in the year 1744 when imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Prince Muhammad ibn Saud formed an alliance to establish a religious & political sovereignty determined to cleanse the Arabian Peninsula of heretical practices and deviations from orthodox Islam...

 from 1744 to 1818. Today, the town is the seat of the Diriyah Governorate
Diriyah Governorate
al-Dir'iyyah Governorate is a governorate within Riyadh Province in Saudi Arabia. The governorate is bounded by the Saudi capital city of Riyadh to the south and east, by the governorate of Dhruma to the south and west, and by the governorate of Huraymla to the north...

, which also includes the villages of Uyayna, Jubayla, and Al-Ammariyyah, among others, and is part of Ar Riyad Province.

The Turaif district in Diriyah was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.

Location


The ruins of the old city of Diriyah lay on either side of the narrow valley known as Wadi Hanifa
Wadi Hanifa
Wadi Hanifa is a wadi or valley in the Nejd region in central Saudi Arabia. The valley runs for a length of from north to south, cutting through the city of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia...

, which continues southwards through Riyadh and beyond. Consisting almost entirely of mud-brick structures, the ruins are divided into three districts, Ghussaibah, Al-Mulaybeed, and Turaif, set on top of hills overlooking the valley
Valley
In geology, a valley or dale is a depression with predominant extent in one direction. A very deep river valley may be called a canyon or gorge.The terms U-shaped and V-shaped are descriptive terms of geography to characterize the form of valleys...

. Of the three, Turaif is the highest, and its bottom is easily accessible to tourists by foot. Part of the city wall, running along the edges of the wadi and also made of mud-bricks, are still extant along with some short observation towers.

The modern city is built at a lower altitude at the foot of the hill upon which Turaif is located. To the north of the town, inside the valley, are a number of gardens, palm groves, and small farms and estates. A dam known as Al-Ilb lies further north.

History


Although the location is sometimes identified with an ancient settlement mentioned by Yaqut and Al-Hamadani known as "Ghabra", the history of Diriyah proper dates back to the 15th century. According to the chroniclers of Nejd, the city was founded in 1446-7 by Mani Al-Mraydi, an ancestor of the Saudi royal family. Mani and his clan had come from the area of Al-Qatif in eastern Arabia, upon the invitation of Ibn Dir', who was then the ruler of a group of settlements that now make up Riyadh
Riyadh
Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 5,254,560 people, and the urban center of a...

. Ibn Dir' is said to have been a relative of Mani' Al-Mraydi, and Mani's clan is believed to have left the area of Wadi Hanifa at some unknown date and were merely returning to their country of origin.

Initially, Mani' and his clan, known as the Mrudah, settled in Ghusaybah and Al-Mulaybeed. The entire settlement was named Al-Dir'iyah, after Mani's benefactor Ibn Dir'. Later on, the district of Turaif was settled. Many families from other towns or from the bedouin tribes of the nearby desert eventually settled in the area and by the 18th century Diriyah had become a well-known town in Nejd.

]

At that time, Muhammad ibn Saud emerged from a struggle within the ruling family of Al-Diriyah, the Al Migrin (sons of Migrin, a descendant of Mani'), and became the emir, or ruler, of Al-Diriyah. In 1744, Ibn Saud took in a fugitive religious scholar named Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab, who hailed from the town of Al-Uyaynah, lying on the same wadi some 30 miles upstream. Ibn Saud agreed to implement Ibn Abdul Wahhab's religious views, and what later became known as the First Saudi State
First Saudi State
The First Saudi State was established in the year 1744 when imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Prince Muhammad ibn Saud formed an alliance to establish a religious & political sovereignty determined to cleanse the Arabian Peninsula of heretical practices and deviations from orthodox Islam...

, with its capital at Diriyah, was born. Within the next several decades, Ibn Saud and his immediate descendants managed to subjugate all of Nejd, as well as the eastern and western regions of Arabia, and sent raids into Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Diriyah quickly swelled in size and increased in wealth, becoming the largest town in Nejd and a major city in Arabia by the standards of the time. However, the Saudis' conquest of the holy cities of Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

 and Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

 drew the ire of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, the major Islamic power at the time, led to the Ottoman-Saudi War of 1811–1818 and an invasion of Arabia
Nejd Expedition
The Egyptian Attack on Nejd 1817-1818 was a series of military conflicts waged by Egypt on behalf of the Ottoman Empire from 1817-1818. It was part of the Ottoman–Saudi War that lasted from 1811 to 1818...

 by Ottoman and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian forces brought the Saudi state to an end in 1818, with Diriyah capitulating
Siege of Diriyah
The Destruction of Diriyah took place late in, 1818 at the end of the Ottoman-Saudi war of 1811–18 during the Nejd Expedition. When the forces of Ibrahim Pasha had reached Diriyah, Abdullah I tried to defend his capital with a weak army. After a siege of several months Abdullah surrendered to the...

 after a nearly-year-long siege. The leader of the invading force, Ibrahim Pasha
Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt
Ibrahim Pasha was the eldest son of Muhammad Ali, the Wāli and unrecognised Khedive of Egypt and Sudan. He served as a general in the Egyptian army that his father established during his reign, taking his first command of Egyptian forces was when he was merely a teenager...

, ordered the destruction of Diriyah. However, when a member of the local nobility tried to revive the Wahhabi state in Diriyah, Ibrahim ordered his troops to destroy the town even further and set whatever was left of it on fire. When the Saudis revived their fortunes in 1824 and again in 1902, they made their capital further south in Riyadh
Riyadh
Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 5,254,560 people, and the urban center of a...

, which has remained their capital ever since.

The town's original inhabitants left Diriyah after 1818, with the bulk of them moving to Riyadh. In The Kingdom (first published in 1981), British author Robert Lacey
Robert Lacey
Robert Lacey is a British historian and biographer. He is the author of a number of bestselling biographies, including those of Henry Ford and Queen Elizabeth II, as well as works of popular history....

 observed that the Al Saud had "left the shell of their old capital behind them, an enduring reminder of the frontiers of the possible" and compared the old Diriyah to "a sand-blown Pompeii
Pompeii
The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning...

". However, the area was resettled in the late 20th century, mostly by former nomads (bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

), and a new city was founded by the Saudi government in the late 1970s. This new city of Diriyah grew in size and is now a small but modern town and the seat of its own governorate
Diriyah Governorate
al-Dir'iyyah Governorate is a governorate within Riyadh Province in Saudi Arabia. The governorate is bounded by the Saudi capital city of Riyadh to the south and east, by the governorate of Dhruma to the south and west, and by the governorate of Huraymla to the north...

. The ruins remain a tourist attraction, and are subject to a slow restoration project on the part of the Saudi government.

Renovations and development plans


Among the rebuild structures are the Bath and guest house, the Qasr Nasr, the Saad bin Saud Palace (finished by the early 90s), the Burj Faysal (a wall tower renovated in the 80s), major sections of the wall surrounding Turaif and sections of the outer walls and some watch towers surrounding the wadi. Outside of the Turaif district, on the opposite side of the wadi Hanifa, the region of the mosque of Sheik Mohammad bin Abdulwahab has been completely remodelled, leaving only some of the more recent original structures standing to the north of the complexe build on the site of the historic mosque.

The "Turief District Development Plan" aims to turn the district into a major national, cultural and touristic center. Before turning the complete site into a modern open air museum
Open air museum
An open-air museum is a distinct type of museum exhibiting its collections out-of-doors. The first open-air museums were established in Scandinavia towards the end of the nineteenth century, and the concept soon spread throughout Europe and North America. Open-air museums are variously known as...

 documentation and necessary investigations, including excavations especially in places that may need to be remodelled, are planned in three major phases. These wil include sites such as:
  • Al-Imam Mohammad bin Saud Mosque and Salwa Palace.
  • Ibraheem Ibn Saud Palace and Fahad Ibn Saud Palace.
  • Farhan Ibn Saud Palace, Torki Ibn Saud Palace and Qoo'a Al-Sharia'a (eastern court of Salwa Palace)

Once finished, there will be a new visitors center as well as a documentation center. Four new museums are planned for the district.
  • A museum of war and defense (as this was the site of a major siege in Saudi Arabia).
  • A museum of horses.
  • A museum of social life.
  • A museum of commerce and finance.

Additionally a Turief traditional market will add to the open air museum experience.

Main sights


The old city's historic structures include:
  • Salwa Palace. It was the residence and first home of the Al Saud Amirs and Imams during the First Saudi State
    First Saudi State
    The First Saudi State was established in the year 1744 when imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Prince Muhammad ibn Saud formed an alliance to establish a religious & political sovereignty determined to cleanse the Arabian Peninsula of heretical practices and deviations from orthodox Islam...

    . It is considered the largest palace on the site, rising four stories high. It is composed of five main parts built at different consecutive periods of time. It was probably finished by Saud ibn Abdul Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Saud, who was Imam from 1803 to 1814.
  • Saad bin Saud Palace. One of the largest palaces on the site, it is famous for its courtyard, which was used as a stable. The palace is completely restored and several stories high.
  • The Guest House and At-Turaif Bath House a traditional building consisting of a number of small courtyards surrounded by rooms. The Bath House is famous for its different architectural styles and shows how the building was waterproofed by using different plasters. Both the Guest and Bath Houses were supplied with water from a well in the wadi
    Wadi
    Wadi is the Arabic term traditionally referring to a valley. In some cases, it may refer to a dry riverbed that contains water only during times of heavy rain or simply an intermittent stream.-Variant names:...

    .
  • Imam Mohammad bin Saud Mosque, a mosque
    Mosque
    A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

      built during the reign of Imam Mohammad bin Saud. Sheik Mohammad bin Abdulwahab used to give lessons about his reformed movement of Islam
    Islam
    Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

     in this mosque. It became a center for religious education. Students used to travel to it from all parts of the Arabian Peninsula
    Arabian Peninsula
    The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

    .
  • Mosim Park: Football ground in the Nakheel area. It is home to football team Mosim FC, who are called The Pride of Dir'iyah. Mosim Park was erected in 2007 after Mosim FC moved there from their old ground downtown of Riyadh.


The layout of the city itself can be easily studied in the National Museum of Saudi Arabia
National Museum of Saudi Arabia
The National Museum of Saudi Arabia is a major national museum in Saudi Arabia. Established in 1999, it is part of the King Abdul Aziz Historical Centre in Riyadh.- The building :...

with the help of a large scale detailed model of the city on display there.

External links




.