A once in a lifetime trip
This is the place to visit in Saudi Arabia
Far less grand than the tombs on the opposite side, façades numbers 87, 88 and 89 were carved in the simple "Single Row of Merlons" style. Despite their small size and simple style, Nº87 and Nº89 actually come with inscriptions, the only two in this area. Below is a summary of each inscription:– Nº87 has a very long legal inscription that is etched...more
Several cult niches framed by aedicules are carved into the walls of the Siq. They are similar to those found in the Siq of Petra, but smaller in scale, and once contained statues of deities. In some cases, sculptures carved into the rock are still visible, such as the eagle in the main attached photo. One of the niches has a Nabataean inscription...more
Located south of Jebel al-Ahmar, Tomb Nº111 is the only one carved in this large rock outcrop. It is elevated from the ground and was designed in a style named by archaeologists as "Proto-Hegra 1", which consists of symmetrical half-merlons above an Egyptian-style cornice resting over two side pilasters with Nabataean capitals. The doorway is...more
The rest of as-Saneh group of tombs, numbered 103 to 106, are simple tombs with no ornamentation. They were carved around a small rock outcrop separate from that of the tomb of Qasr al-Saneh, the elaborate façade carved on its own rock outcrop further to the west (the unpaved road runs between the two hills). These simple tombs would have been...more
There are two fenced off areas at the centre of Mada'in Saleh, restricted for archaeological excavation. The town of Hegra, where the Nabataean inhabitants lived lies in these areas, but only small sections of it have been excavated. The many finds were swiftly transported to the national museum in Riyadh where they are on display, but the...more
One of numerous stops along the defunct Hijaz Railway, the Mada'in Saleh Station lies within the archaeological site. The railway was laid out in 1900 under the Ottoman Empire to link Constantinople and Damascus with Medina, thus significantly cutting pilgrims' travel time during the important Haj season. Plans had been made to extend it also to...more
Also known as the Siq, this natural crevice is reminiscent of that of Petra, albeit much smaller in scale and only 40 metres in length. There is no comparison, however, as here in Hegra it is not the entrance to the city, nor is it as deep and monumental. However, the Nabataeans probably found it adequate for the religious practices they had...more
Like Petra, Hegra has its very own Qasr al-Bint (Palace of the Daughter or Maiden). Whereas in Petra it is a free-standing temple, here in it is a grand tomb façade (Nº17), which gave its name to the surrounding cluster of tombs. It is the largest finished façade in the group, 16 metres in height, carved on the north-western side of the rock...more
This group of tombs is carved on the north-western and western side of Jebel al-Ahmar. They are relatively small and most are badly eroded. Tombs Nº127 and Nº128 carry Nabataean inscriptions on their façades, which are summarised below:– Nº127 is a short inscription stating that tomb belonged to Munat ibn Abiyyan and his descendants. It also dates...more
These three tombs occupy the south-eastern side of Jebel al-Ahmar (Area "C"). Nº116 is a simple burial chamber without a monumental façade. The other two come with medium-sized façades; Nº114 follows the "Double Row of Merlons" style, while Nº115 was carved in the "Half Merlons" style. None comes with an inscription.more
These two adjacent tombs of different sizes, Nº117 & Nº118, were carved on the eastern side of Jebel al-Ahmar. According to the inscription on the façade of Nº117, it was carved in 61 AD, i.e. the 21st year of the reign of King Malichus II. It is a small tomb, measuring about 4.5 metres in height, decorated with a double row of merlons and an...more
This badly damaged façade is the only tomb in this small rock outcrop. Along with a large swathe of land around it, the tomb lies in a restricted fenced off area for archaeological exploration. It is said that this is the only tomb in Hegra where human remains have been found, hence the restriction. Note: I am unable to confirm this fact, so if you...more
Located at the southern end of the archaeological site, Qasr as-Saneh gave its name to the group of seven tombs in this area. Its name means the "Smith's Palace" and it is one of the first tombs encountered upon entering Hegra. It is similar to the famous Qasr al-Farid in that it is the sole tomb façade in its rock outcrop, albeit a much larger...more
This group in Area "E" of Jebel Khraymat includes four mid-sized, well-preserved monumental façades (the fifth is an incomplete work). All are 'silent' tombs with no inscription, and three were designed the "Proto-Hegra 1" style, while one follows the "Single Row of Merlons" style (Nº85). The main attached photo shows Tomb Nº86 with a rock...more
An unfinished façade, Tomb Nº101 would have been the largest in the Jebel Khraymat area. Only the upper part of the façade, consisting of the two half-merlon crown and the Egyptian-style cornice, was completed. Unusually, though, the tomb's entrance and interior were carved, and it was probably used for burial even before the full façade was...more
The nearest town to the archaeological site of Mada'in Saleh is al-Ula, situated 20 minutes away. It is a town equipped with hotels, restaurants and other amenities necessary for a road traveller, but unfortunately no commercial airport. Thus, a long drive is necessary to reach Mada'in Saleh, from whichever direction one comes. The closest airport...more
Madain Saleh is accessible by car from any location in Saudi Arabia. From Riyadh City center, Take the Buraidah/ Qassim Road north. It is about 600++ Km to Hail (about 7 hrs drive) From Hail, another 400km to the City of Al Ula.To cut driving time, fly to and drive the rest of the way from either Madina (400 kilometers), Hail (400 kilometers), or...more
The few stores I saw where convinience stores such as small supermarkets. The best souvenir you take from here is your camara shots!!....I was impressed by all the nabateans arquitecture. Amazing they did with tools they created themselves!!....
I really love this place!!...
What to buy: BRING A GOOD CAMERA AND BATTERIES
What to pay: NO TOO MUCH TO BUY UNLESS YOU REALLY NEED SOME COSMETICS
Although Hegra in Arabic is "al-Hijr", the archaeological site itself is known in modern times as Mada'in Saleh, i.e. "Cities of Saleh." This naturally begs the question: who is Saleh and what "cities" are these? Saleh is a pre-Islamic Koranic prophet who was sent by God to preach to his people, Thamud, a pagan tribe in western Arabia, who were famous for skilfully carving dwellings out of mountains in their town al-Hijr. Much like in Biblical stories of prophets shared by the Koran, most Thamudis rejected Saleh's calls to worship the one and only God and destruction subsequently befell them. Islamic tradition links Saleh and his tribe, Thamud, directly to the site of al-Hijr, or Hegra. However, the name "Mada'in Saleh" was coined in the 14th century (?) when an Arab traveller visited the site and wrote about it, and his reference to "cities" may have derived from the multiple clusters of tombs scattered around the site. In the 19th century, as archaeological interest in the Near East emerged, the name Mada'in Saleh began to replace al-Hijr as the official toponym. Although it is understood that the site of the Prophet Saleh's tribe was indeed here, the rock-cut tombs in Hegra were in fact carved many years later by the Nabataeans, a different Arab civilisation. Because of the shared location and rock-carving skills between the two civilisations, the misinformed are erroneously led to believe that the Nabataean tombs that have survived in Hegra are the very same dwellings mentioned in the Koran and carved by the Thamudic tribe at the time of prophet Saleh, never mind that over two millennia separate the two peoples. In fact, theologians and historians believe Saleh lived around 2100 BC, while the tombs of Hegra were carved by the Nabataeans in the 1st century AD.
Driving from AL Ula to Madain Saleh is about half an hour (22km) Travelling through the paved highways and not so many cars passing by, you will tend to speed up confidently..but BEWARE! slow down and be alert coz this Mid Eastern trademark may be crossing your way. So, be carfeul and be vigilant with these camels crossing the highways.more
As said in the intro page, the site of Mada'in Saleh and some others in Saudi Arabia are not accessible without permit.I guess Mada'in Saleh must be the most controlled one and all along our visit of the site, we "enjoy" the presence of minders.3 minder cars for 2 visitor cars !!! I guess we were the attraction of the day as nobody else was around...more
A hat & sunglasses, especially from April to October.Warm clothing for the morning hours in winter as it gets quite cold at night.Comfortable walking or hiking shoes. Sunblock! A camera with a good zoom lens could be handy. Plenty of drinking water, especially in the warmer months.Although food is technically not allowed into the site, it's a...more
During summer months (June to September) make sure to wear light clothes. Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, umbrella (if possible) and comfortable shoes/slippers. Madain Saleh has a picture perfect sights so make sure to bring your camera & spare batteries Camping is not possible within Madain Saleh complex though there are possible campsites along...more
Mada'in Salih is not really a sports-activity spot. It's rather a protected touristic area where no sports should be practiced. However, in winter, it gets too cool to do sandsurfing on that historical hills next to al-Ula city, just off Mada'in Salih since these two towns are historically and geographically connected. They share lots of activities and sightseeings. Tips in Mada'in Salih are pretty much the same of al-Ula (unless for tombs).
Equipment: Soft big tyres for sliding
Durable long pants (cotton pants may get torn out)
Heavy sweaters for winter, light shirts for summer slinding
Boots if you don't like to be filled with sands, plus long socks.
At night, you should have big flashes and one of these tiny machines while driving to detect rocks and stones.
Before you go to Mada'in Saleh, some advance planning will be necessary. First, admission into the country itself is difficult. Tourist visas are limited to tour groups organised by officially designated tour operators who typically have a government approved itinerary and tend to be rather expensive. It is the only and simplest way into the...more
A. For a Saudi National, permit to enter Madain Saleh Nabatean Tombs is not necessary but for foreign Travellers permission is required from the Department of Antiquities and Museums ( Travelling on your own/ Free lance Traveller)Below are the requirements:1. A formal letter of application signed by the applicant's sponsor2. name, nationality and...more