Old City, Jiddah
Beit Khazoufeh is another of Jeddah's old merchants' houses. Although it is not the most famous of them, it has a beautiful façade that highlights why these old structures are true architectural treasures. It features both mashrabiyyat (the screens over windows) and rawash (the boxes that are enlarged screens covering larger open sections in the walls). Both are examples of the craftsmanship and the intricacy attained in the production of these hallmarks of Arabic architecture. In addition, there is also a carved wooden door, albeit carved in a far less intricate manner than the doors of many other houses in Balad. The true coup de grace on Beit Khazoufeh, however, is the stone carving above the door. Here can be seen the brilliance of Arab artisans in their ability to incorporate text, geometric patterns and vegetable patterning into the hard stone exterior (figurative representation is banned if not strongly discouraged in Saudi Islam). The inscription reads "Oh House, do not take in sadness and may time not betray your owners."
This particular merchant's house is not one of the more famous ones in Jeddah, nor is it particularly typical of the style of the old houses. Nevertheless, it struck me as interesting if only because of the patterning of the façade walls. They are of cinderblock and too much mortar, which gives the house an odd "negative" look in the sense that what we expect to be raised is sunk and vice versa.
One of the biggest attractions in Jeddah is the collection of old merchants' houses that can still be found in the Balad area. Jeddah has long been a commercial hub because of its proximity to Meccah, and the city has maintained its importance as a stop along trade routes between Arabia, Yemen, the Horn of Africa and Egypt. Many of those who engage in these lucrative trade routes built impressive and well-decorated family homes here, which still retain the names of these merchant families. One of these homes is the Ba3ishin (3 is Arabish for a pharyngial stop), which bears the characteristic ba- of a family originating in Yemen (ba- comes from the Arabic word for father). The house, like many others of the merchant class, displays beautiful mashrabiyat (the lattice screens over the windows) as well as intricate stone carving over the door. The doors themselves are examples of the highly developed art of woodcarving that has given many Saudi homes their distinctive entranceways.
Completed in 1882 by the Nassif family, one of many prominent merchant families from Jeddah, Beit Nassif is among the best examples of 19th century palatial architecture in the city. Not only is it one of the more beautiful buildings in Old Jeddah, but it is also the best preserved. It consists of multiple floors overlooking a small square with the oldest and, once also, the only tree in Jeddah. A beautifully carved wooden lattice mashrabeyya covers the bay windows on the façade, below which is a limestone entrance with a carved wooden gate. A band of carved floral motifs separates each floor, while arched windows with wooden shutters span the the building. In 1924, when the Saudi-Wahhabi alliance won the bloody war against the ephemeral independent Kingdom of Hijaz, then ruled by the Hashemite Sharif of Mecca, the triumphant King Abdulaziz bin Saudi entered Jeddah, and Beit Nassif served as his residence. This led the Saudi government to purchase the house in 1975 and to subsequently restore and list it as a historic monument. It has since served as a library, a museum and a cultural centre open to the public.
For a long long time, this old dilapidated edifice gives me both the mystery and creeps.
I've heard several stories such as - an old ottoman structure - not!
The latest one was the more credible for me.
It is an old anglican church, probably a hundred or so years old.
The souq in Balad, the old part of Jeddah, is hardly a match for the souqs in places like Damascus or Cairo, but it does at least provide some local colour and a more realistic view of life in a city that seems dominated by mega malls. As in other cities in the Gulf countries, this souq is dominated by traders and merchants from the sub-continent, although there are a few shops selling Arab products. This is not a tourist souq. It is not cleaned up and gentrified as in Dubai. Rather, it is a place to see how the bulk of Jeddah's residents live, and to capture, at least in part, the huge groups of migrants, both religious and economic, who come through this city.
Opened in 1905 AD, Madrassa al-Falah was the first organised school built in Jeddah (and the entire Arabian peninsula). Hard to believe, but prior to that, education was confined to mosques and homes. It was commissioned by Mohammed Alireza Zeinal, a prominent local pearl trader, from one of Jeddah's merchant families, who had to seek permission from the Ottoman Governor to open the school. It is said that his wife sold her jewellery in order to fund the school. Most of Jeddah's oldest men were educated at this school. It is located in the heart of al-Balad, Old Jeddah, and is recognisable by its green dome and the very colourful entrance (see attached photos).
Named after the first Caliph, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, this mosque in not as ancient. According to the sign posted on the mosque, it dates from 1827 AD, but it was completely rebuilt in 1986 in the form we see today. The minaret is rather beautiful, and conforms to traditional Jeddaoui architecture, but the rest has a more modern feel, despite the domes, arches and Arabic calligraphy on the façade. It is located on the Gold Souk Street (Souk el-Dahab) on the edge of el-Balad, or Old Jeddah. Once upon a time, this mosque was also known as the "Indians' Angle Mosque," perhaps because this part of town hosted Indian immigrants or merchants.
One of the 'newer' mosques in Old Jeddah, Mi'mar Mosque was built in the middle of the 19th century. It was commissioned by the Ottoman governor of Jeddah, Mustapha Mi'mar Pacha, hence the name. It is constructed on a raised platform with shops in the lower levels to generate income to sustain the mosque. The mosque consists of a prayer hall open to a courtyard. The minaret has an octagonal base topped by a cylindrical tower.
Officially called Masjid al-Shafe'i, this mosque is also known as el-Jame'i al-Ateeq (i.e., the Ancient Mosque). It is Jeddah's oldest mosque and was traditionally the grand mosque, before the city expanded beyond the Mediaeval walls. The exact founding date is unknown, but is generally believed to be in the 7th century AD when Jeddah was designated as the entry port for Mecca. The structure is known to have been rebuilt in the late 13th century AD under the Mamluke dynasty. The minaret, the oldest standing in Jeddah, is from this period and is certainly Mamluke in style: octagonal shape, simple stalactite muqaranas decorations, and a bulbous dome. The interior of the mosque consists of an open courtyard next to a covered prayer hall. This part of the mosque was rebuilt once or twice since the 13th century, but the prayer hall has conserved an old mihrab and minbar (prayer niche and pulpit). The mosque is located on Souk el-Jame'i Street (the Mosque Souk) in Haret el-Mazloom quarter of Old Jeddah.
One of the largest in Old Jeddah, Hanafi Mosque was built in 1902 AD when the city was still part of the Ottoman Empire. Although painted white and lacks a dome, this mosque is very Ottoman in style, particularly its minaret, which is thin and pencil-shaped with geometric designs, similar to those seen in Istanbul.
Standing in ruins north of el-Balad (Old Jeddah) is one of the few churches built in recent history within the lands controlled by Saudi. Little is known about the exact history, but it is thought to have been a British (Anglican) church, probably constructed either in the late 1910s under the Ottoman Empire or the early 1920s during the ephemeral independent Kingdom of Hijaz when the British had a strong presence in Jeddah. The church operated before this region fell into the hands of the intolerant Wahhabi zealots who came from Nejd in central Arabia. The Hijaz (western Arabia) until today, Jeddah included, practises a more tolerant brand of Islam, closer to Syria and Egypt in traditions, and very much at odds with the puritanical Wahhabi ideology imposed by the al-Saud dynasty, which occupied and annexed this region along with its holy cities of Mecca and Medina beginning in 1924. With their arrival, the Wahhabis forbade the public practice of other religions, including Christianity and Judaism - so contrary to the Islamic tradition they claim to uphold - and most probably forced the closure of this lone church in Jeddah. It is unclear whether the structure fell into ruins over time or was destroyed by the Wahhabis themselves, but the latter is more likely given that they also destroyed numerous important Islamic holy shrines, which they deemed heretic. The Church of Jeddah has remained in ruins behind a wall for nearly a century, but is unlikely to be protected if a development on the site is ever contemplated (Note that many religious officials deny that this structure was ever a church). There is also a Christian cemetery in Jeddah, walled up and inaccessible, but maintained by foreign consulates.
This is a picture of the old Jeddah customs building,,it was built near the sea port..I took a picture of the gate where it had a large sign saying(The library &The documents) and a smaller sign saying that the entrance is on the other side of the building.
SOme of the dilapidated houses in the old district are being saved and reconstructed to bring it back to its old glory, after all it tells lots of story and history.
That was a really good move, as most part of the Balad district is very modern already with tall buildings and huge malls.
These old houses in the old district are not popular amongst the expats, except for those really interested in discovering them, and those who live in and around this area.
Windows in different hues of blue, green and the traditional natural wood colour, are designed intricately to block view from outsiders eyes while letting a cool breeze of fresh in and mild sunlight. These type of windows are called "Rowasheens".