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Saudi Arabia's First
UNESCO World Heritage Site

About Hegra

Visit the site of Hegra to experience Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you’ll explore a volume of magnificent tombs set in a desert landscape, while learning about the ancient people and culture of AlUla.

Evidence for human presence and use of the site dates back beyond the 1st millennium BCE, but it was the location of the Nabataean city from the end of the 1st millennium BCE into the 1st millennium CE. The city was at its peak from the late 2nd century BCE to the 2nd century CE.

What You Can’t Miss

Today, Hegra is best known for its more than 100 monumental tombs carved from rock formations in which the Nabataean elite were laid to rest. Inscriptions, detailing who was buried within, remain above some of these breathtaking burial chambers to this day. As you walk through the site, you’ll find tombs dedicated to healers, military figures, local leaders and others.

Inscriptions can be found throughout the site of Hegra. They reveal the origins of the Arabic language, and illuminate the customs and beliefs of ancient civilisations. In addition to the inscriptions, you’ll see repeated stylised stone carvings, or betyls. These stone blocks acted as representations of the gods. Some feature stylised eyes, noses and mouths.

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Religious or ritual practices at Hegra were concentrated around Jabal Ithlib, a natural mountain outcrop to the east of the city. A special feature is a rock-cut chamber known as the Diwan, where ritual or elite banqueting and political discussions took place.

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Over 100 monumental tombs are carved into the rocky outcrops surrounding the ancient city of Hegra. Jabal AlBanat has one of the largest clusters of tombs; 29 tombs are carved on all sides of the sandstone rock. This location also has a high number of preserved inscriptions which detail the ownership of the tombs. Many of the inscriptions at Jabal AlBanat mention female names, which is reflected in the site's name “AlBanat”, meaning women or girls.

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Among Hegra’s outcrops is Jabal AlAhmar, a name referring to the red hue of the rock. This location has 18 tombs of which a few were recently excavated. Unique discoveries reveal the secrets of Nabataean burial rituals at Hegra.

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Other Special Places to See

Around Hegra, you may see the ruins of more than 130 wells — evidence that the Nabateans adapted skilfully to AlUla’s arid climate. The wells could be replenished by groundwater and rainfall, enabling them to also act as cisterns. Excavations have shown that stone-lined water channels and ceramic pipes were used to move water away from courtyards into the streets, as well as carved above the tomb facades to move rainwater away from the intricate details, helping to preserve them.

Surprising Details

On your visit, look for Roman influence. The Nabataean kingdom was annexed by the Roman Empire in 106 CE. Traces of a rampart were first discovered during the early 20th century and revealed that the town was encircled by a 3-kilometre-long wall with between three and five gates, protected by several towers and significant buttresses. Hegra’s position on the incense and trading routes meant that it was provided with strong military protection by both the Nabataeans and the Romans.

Visitor Information

Hegra is currently closed to visitors due to Covid-19. AlUla is planning to reopen at the end of October 2020.

Hegra During Winter at Tantora

During the Winter at Tantora festival, many happenings take place in and around Hegra. Previous experiences include storytelling tours, pop-up cafes, a hot-air balloon festival, a lighted drone performance and more.

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