Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, a land of rich history and breathtaking landscapes, is rapidly opening its doors to the world, inviting travelers to explore its vast array of cultural, historical, and natural landmarks. From the ancient wonders of Al-Ula to the historic Masmak Fortress, Saudi Arabia offers a journey through time and a glimpse into the heart of the Arabian Peninsula. Let’s delve into some of the country’s most iconic landmarks, each telling its own unique story.

Al-Ula: The Timeless Wonder

Location: Al-Ula, Medina Region

Al-Ula is one of Saudi Arabia’s most extraordinary archaeological treasures, a place where history and nature intertwine to create a stunning open-air museum. This region, located in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, is home to ancient cities, rock formations, and historical sites that date back thousands of years.


  • Hegra (Madain Salih): Often referred to as the ‘second Petra,’ Hegra is Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient Nabataean city, with its intricately carved rock tombs, provides a glimpse into a civilization that flourished over 2,000 years ago. The site is remarkably well-preserved, with 131 rock-cut monumental tombs.
  • Al-Ula Old Town: This ancient town offers a journey back in time with its labyrinth of narrow streets, mud-brick houses, and historical buildings. Once a thriving settlement, it served as a vital crossroads for pilgrims and traders.
  • Elephant Rock: This natural sandstone formation, shaped remarkably like an elephant, is one of Al-Ula’s most famous landmarks. It stands as a testament to the region’s unique geological formations.


Best Time to Visit:

The best time to visit Al-Ula is between October and April, when the weather is cooler and more comfortable for exploring the outdoor sites.

Diriyah: The Cradle of Saudi Arabia

Location: Riyadh Province

Diriyah, located on the outskirts of Riyadh, is a site of immense historical significance. It is the original home of the Saudi royal family and the birthplace of the first Saudi state. Today, Diriyah is undergoing extensive restoration to preserve its heritage and transform it into a major cultural and historical destination.


  • At-Turaif District: This UNESCO World Heritage Site was the first capital of the Saudi dynasty. The mud-brick buildings of At-Turaif showcase the traditional Najdi architectural style and include palaces, mosques, and administrative buildings.
  • Al-Bujairi Quarter: This lively area within Diriyah has been restored to offer a glimpse into traditional Saudi life. It features cultural exhibitions, cafes, and shops selling local crafts and products.

Best Time to Visit:

Diriyah is best visited in the cooler months from November to March, allowing for comfortable exploration of its outdoor attractions.

Masmak Fortress: The Birthplace of a Kingdom

Location: Riyadh

Masmak Fortress is a symbol of Saudi Arabia’s unification and a testament to its rich history. Located in the heart of Riyadh, this clay and mud-brick fort played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


  • Historical Significance: The fortress was the site of the 1902 raid led by Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, who captured it from the Al Rashid clan. This victory marked the beginning of the unification of the different regions under the Al Saud family.
  • Museum: Today, Masmak Fortress houses a museum that details the history of Riyadh and the unification of Saudi Arabia. The exhibits include artifacts, photographs, and maps that illustrate the region’s rich heritage.
  • Architecture: The fortress’s sturdy walls, watchtowers, and courtyard provide a glimpse into traditional Arabian fortifications. Visitors can explore the various rooms, including the mosque, the majlis (sitting room), and the well.

Best Time to Visit:

The museum inside Masmak Fortress can be visited year-round, but the cooler months from October to March are ideal for exploring the outdoor areas.

Jeddah: Gateway to Mecca

Location: Jeddah, Makkah Province

Jeddah, known as the ‘Gateway to Mecca,’ is a vibrant city with a rich history and a unique blend of cultures. Its historical center, Al-Balad, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that showcases traditional Arabian architecture and offers a window into the city’s past.


  • Al-Balad (Old Jeddah): This historic district is characterized by its coral stone buildings with intricate wooden lattices known as ‘rawasheen.’ Al-Balad is a maze of narrow streets, bustling souks, and historical houses, including the famous Naseef House.
  • King Fahd’s Fountain: This iconic landmark is the tallest fountain in the world, shooting water up to 312 meters into the air. It is a stunning sight, especially when illuminated at night.
  • Jeddah Corniche: The city’s waterfront area offers beautiful views of the Red Sea, public art installations, parks, and recreational areas. It’s a popular spot for locals and tourists to relax and enjoy the sea breeze.

Best Time to Visit:

The best time to visit Jeddah is from November to March, when the weather is cooler and more pleasant for outdoor activities.

Edge of the World: A Natural Marvel

Location: Riyadh Province

The Edge of the World, or Jebel Fihrayn, is one of Saudi Arabia’s most breathtaking natural wonders. Located about 90 kilometers from Riyadh, this dramatic escarpment offers stunning views over the vast, arid plains below, giving visitors the feeling of standing at the edge of the world.



  • Scenic Views: The panoramic views from the top of the escarpment are truly awe-inspiring. On a clear day, visitors can see for miles across the barren landscape.
  • Hiking: The area around the Edge of the World offers several hiking trails that allow visitors to explore the rugged terrain and take in the natural beauty of the region.
  • Wildlife: The area is home to a variety of wildlife, including camels, which can often be seen grazing in the distance.

Best Time to Visit:

The best time to visit the Edge of the World is during the cooler months from October to March, as the temperatures can be extremely high during the summer.


Saudi Arabia’s iconic landmarks offer a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. From the ancient rock-carved tombs of Al-Ula and the historical depth of Diriyah to the pivotal significance of Masmak Fortress and the vibrant blend of Jeddah, each landmark provides a unique window into the heart of this fascinating country. As Saudi Arabia continues to open up to the world, these landmarks stand as enduring symbols of its heritage and its future, inviting travelers to embark on a journey of discovery and wonder. Whether you are drawn by history, culture, or natural marvels, Saudi Arabia promises an unforgettable adventure that will leave a lasting impression.

Also read: A Journey Through New Zealand’s Best Museums and Art Galleries