Landmarks of Saudi Arabia

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Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, Medina
Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, Medina / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Most interesting landmarks of Saudi Arabia

Below are listed the most amazing natural and man made landmarks of Saudi Arabia.

Natural landmarks of Saudi Arabia

Caves

  • Jabal Al Qarah – Eastern Provinces. Approximately 1.5 km long cave system, developed in calcareous sandstone.
  • Murubbeh Cave – Ar Ryadh. Enormous cave chamber, 150 m long, 80 m wide and up to 50 m high. Rich with archaeological and palaeontological material. Cave serves as a trap of cool air.
  • Umm Jirsan – Al Madinah. Longest known lava cave in Arabia, 1.481 km long. Passages are up to 45 m wide and contain rich collection of palaeontological and archaeological material. Contains old stone wall.

Other natural landmarks of Saudi Arabia

  • Al Wahbah crater – Makkah. Impressive volcanic crater (maar), up to 250 m deep, diameter – 2 km. Bottom is covered with white sodium phosphate sediments.
  • Layla Lakes – Ar Ryadh. Largest gypsum sinkholes, former lakes which have drained now. In total 23 sinkholes, up to 1,100 m long, up to 50 m deep, with vertical walls. Especially impressive feature is the beautiful, unique gypsum tufa formations covering the walls of sinkholes.
  • Maha’jah Rocks (Cathedral Rock) – Tabuk. Group of amazing cliffs with enormous natural arches, hoodoos.
  • Wabar craters (al-Hadida meteors) – Eastern Province. Unusual impact craters in the desert of Arabia. Legendary site, where iron meteorites of large size have been found. Well preserved craters show that the impact was very recent, most likely the early 18th century.

Man made landmarks of Saudi Arabia

Cliff art

  • Bir Hima – Najran. Paleolithic and Neolithic rock art in some 100 closely located sites with more than 6,400 drawings.
  • Jabal al Manjour – Ha’il. Well preserved prehistoric roct art. Depictions of dogs from the early Neolithic, 7,500 – 6,500 BC. Images show also cheetah and leopards.
  • Janin Cave – Ha’il. Cave with prehistoric rock art.
  • Shuwaymis rock art site – Ha’il. One of major rock art sites in the world, contains many thousands of drawings from 5,000 – 3,000 BC.
  • Umm Sanman – Ha’il. Site with huge amount of petroglyphs, with Levallois – Mousterian stone artifacts at the cliff. Here in the Middle Paleolite was located bank of large inland lake, drawings made from the Middle Paleolithic to Early Islamic time. Examples of Thamudic script – earliest writing in Arabian peninsula.
  • Yatib – Ha’il. More than 1,000 prehistoric petroglyphs on a more than 1 km long rock wall.

Other archaeological monuments

Mada’in Saleh, Saudi Arabia
Mada’in Saleh / Sammy Six, / CC BY 2.0
  • Al Rajajil standing stones – Al Jawf. Group of standing stones, up to 3 m tall, erected some 5,000 years ago. Aligned to sunrise and sunset, contain Thamudic inscriptions.
  • Jubail Church – Eastern Province. Ruins of the 4th century Nestorian church at Persian Gulf.
  • Mada’in Saleh (Al-Hijr, Al-Ula) – Al Madinah. Ancient Lihyan and Nabatean city with 131 monumental rock-cut structures – tombs developed since approximately the 6th century BC. It is possible that this is more important center of civilizations than considered thus far.
  • Qaryat al-Fāw (Qaryah) – Al Ryadh. Ruins of ancient city, which flourished around the 8th century BC – AD 228. Found remnants of three pre-Islamic temples and altar.

Historical cities and villages

  • Al Balad – Makkah, Jeddah. Historical quarters of Jeddah, founded in the 7th century AD. Dense urban network of ornate historical houses with many stories.
  • Al Dar’i Quarter – Al Javf, Dumat Al-Jandal. Historical part of the city. Preserved from the middle Islamic period, stands on remnants of earlier buildings.
  • At Turaif District – Al Ryadh. First capital of Saudi Dynasty, built in the 15th century in ad-Dir’iyah oasis. Many structures – palaces and other urban buildings – represent the Najdi architectural style. Flourished in the 18th and 19th century. Partly in ruins.
  • Al-‘Ula – Al Madinah. Ruins of the old city are located over the former capital of the ancient Dedanites, with more than 2000 years old archaeological monuments. Flourished in 650 – 1230 AD. Current old city developed mainly in the 1300ies.
  • Dhee Ayn – Al Bahah. Historical village in picturesque place, consists of stone towers (qasabas) built over a white marble hill.

Islamic sites

Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, Medina
Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, Medina / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Al-Masjid al-Nabawi – Al Madinah. It is the second most important Islamic site, containing the tomb of Muhammad (Green Dome). The second largest mosque in world, built in 622 AD and rebuilt numerous times. Latest significant rebuildings date from the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Hira – Makkah. Small, 3.7 m long cave – a place where Muhammad received his first revelations from Allah.
  • Jawatha Mosque – Eastern Province. Ruins of one of the oldest mosques in the world, constructed around 692 AD.
  • Masjid al-Haram – Makkah. The largest mosque in world, it was built in 638 AD to surround the Kaaba – holiest site of Islam. Contains several other sacred places, including Zamzam Well, which is widely believed to be a miraculous natural spring but in reality is handmade well.
  • Masjid al-Qiblatain – Al Madinah. Historically important mosque, where Muhammad commanded to change the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to Mecca. Ornate building, one of the earliest mosques in the world.
  • Quba Mosque – Al Madinah. Oldest mosque, construction started by prophet Muhammad. Completely rebuilt in 1986.

Modern architecture

  • Abraj Al Bait Towers – Makkah. Building with the world’s largest floor area and largest clock in the world. 601 m tall, with 120 floors, floor area above 1.5 million m². Constructed in 2012, second tallest building in the world.
  • Al Faisaliyah Center – Al Ryadh. 267 m tall skyscraper with landmark design, constructed in 2000.
  • Jeddah Light – Makkah, Jeddah. 133 m tall lighthouse with unusual design, possibly the tallest lighthouse in the world.
  • Kingdom Centre – Al Ryadh. Skyscraper with unusual landmark design. Building has 99 floors, is 302.3 m tall. Constructed in 2002.
  • King Fahd’s fountain – Makkah, Jeddah. 312 m tall water fountain, the tallest in the world. Operating since 1985.

Other man made landmarks

Masmak fort, Saudi Arabia
Masmak fort / Sammy Six, / CC BY 2.0
  • Marid Castle (Mard castle) – Al Javf. Remnants of castle which was built before 272 AD. Walls of castle still rise to considerable height.
  • Masmak fort – Al Ryadh. Clay and mud-brick fort with thick walls, located in the center of Riyadh, historically important building. Constructed around 1865.
  • Naseef House – Makkah, Jeddah. Ornate house, built by wealthy merchants in 1872 – 1881. Now serves as a museum, contains numerous art values.
  • Rock of Antarah – Al Qassim. Unusual, large rock on the mountaintop. A place of Pre-Islamic legends where a hero and poet Antarah met with his beloved Abla.
  • Salwa Palace – Al Ryadh. First royal Saudi palace, located in At Turaif. Four stories high, built in different time periods. Last large scale construction took place in 1803 – 1814.
  • Tomb of Eve – Makkah, Jeddah. Purported tomb of Biblical Eve. This giant tomb is estimated to be some 130 m long. Sealed with concrete in 1975.

Described landmarks of Saudi Arabia

loading map - please wait...

Kaaba and Masjid-al-Haram: 21.422470, 39.826192
Wabar craters (al-Hadida meteors): 21.505278, 50.474167

Many landmarks in Saudi Arabia are little known to the outside world, and, unfortunately, many amazing attractions are deliberately destroyed.
Nevertheless some Saudi Arabian landmarks are world renowned and one – Kaaba in Masjid al-Haram, Makkah – is one of most important places in world. Highlights of Saudi Arabia are:

  • Islamic sites. Here was born one of major world religions and Muslims from the whole world are coming to visit the sacred sites in Makkah and Medina.
  • Archaeological monuments. Endless deserts and mountains contain countless sites with prehistoric cliff art, here are found megaliths and ruins of ancient cities. Very interesting and impressive is Mada’in Saleh. According to legends, sands of deserts still are hiding ruins of ancient cities.

Featured: Kaaba and Masjid-al-Haram

Kaaba - centre of Islam
Kaaba – centre of Islam / A.K.Photography, / CC BY-SA 2.0

The history of the mysterious Kaaba started long before Islam and this could be one of the oldest active shrines in the world. Today Kaaba and Masjid-al-Haram around it is the center of Islam – a religion with some 1.6 billion followers. Thus it is one of most significant places in the world.

Recommended books

Crossing the Kingdom: Portraits of Saudi Arabia


For many people, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia evokes images of deserts, camels, and oil, along with rich sheikh in white robes, oppressed women in black veils, and terrorists. But when Loring Danforth traveled through the country in 2012, he found a world much more complex and inspiring than he could have ever imagined.

Saudi Arabia – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture


Culture Smart! provides essential information on attitudes, beliefs and behavior in different countries, ensuring that you arrive at your destination aware of basic manners, common courtesies, and sensitive issues. These concise guides tell you what to expect, how to behave, and how to establish a rapport with your hosts. This inside knowledge will enable you to steer clear of embarrassing gaffes and mistakes, feel confident in unfamiliar situations, and develop trust, friendships, and successful business relationships. Culture Smart! offers illuminating insights into the culture and society of a particular country.

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