Saudi Arabia has recently reopened to the public the historic site of At-Turaif in the city of Diriyah, one of the most important in the country. The Unesco world heritage site had been closed for over 10 years for renovation work. The center narrates through objects and documents the birth of Saudi Arabia.
It is the first time the center will be open to the public since it gained Unesco designation in 2010. The city of Diriyah is very close to the capital Riyadh, in the center of Saudi Arabia and it is famous to walk along its little roads and admire the best examples of traditional Najdi architecture, including the historic palace that has been completely renovated which was the original house of the Al Saud family, the Saudi dynasty that still rules the country today.
At-Turaif encompasses the remains of a traditional human settlement developed in a desert environment, dating from the 15th century. It consists almost entirely of mud-brick structures. They are a unique example of the Najdi architectural and decorative style developed to cope with the extreme desert climate. The site includes Salwa Palace, Saad bin Saud Palace, The Guest House and At-Turaif Bath House, and Imam Mohammad bin Saud Mosque. Diriyah was the original home of the Saudi royal family, and served as the capital of the first Saudi dynasty from 1744 to 1818, when it was destroyed following the Ottomans’ invasion of Arabia.
At-Turaif is once again open to visitors to make them travel through time, observing how the country was reborn, launching projects that have led to today’s Saudi Arabia from a political and architectural standpoint. Visitors will also be able to walk in the area of At-Turaid, designed to share details of the importance of the region in the country’s evolution. There will also be a schedule of activities including theatrical performances that will provide a glimpse of what life was like in the first Saudi state.
The calendar of events for winter also includes an Arab horse show, traditional coffee experiences and calligraphy workshops. Also reopening to the public is the Bujairi Terrace which is becoming one of the most important sites for a luxury dinner in the Saudi kingdom.
Cafes and restaurants will also open in the area soon, all planned respecting traditional Saudi architecture and the city will widen with the opening soon of large new hotels with an urban development plan designed to attract more than 30 million visitors a year by 2030.
For a good historical background information on At-Turaif, a visit to the impressive National Musuem of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh is a must.