AlUla Old Town
A Heritage Site Like No Other
Modern AlUla encompasses one of Saudi Arabia’s most exceptional heritage sites, AlUla Old Town. One of the reasons it evokes such a deep sense of emotion is that it was actually inhabited in the not-so-distant past.
AlUla Old Town is located in the narrowest part of the AlUla Valley. Built on a slight elevation, the town is overlooked by the Musa bin Nusayr Castle, a citadel dating to at least the 10th century.
With nearly 900 houses, 400 shops and 5 town squares, the Old Town of AlUla still contains remnants of some of the original stone and mudbrick buildings constructed here.
In the 12th century, AlUla Old Town became an essential settlement along the pilgrimage route from Damascus to Makkah. The city gradually replaced Qurh, to the south of AlUla, and is favourably mentioned by travellers from the 12th to the 20th centuries, when modern AlUla was constructed nearby. The houses were constructed to be attached to one another, providing fortification and a hint that defence was a priority for the city’s early inhabitants. At one point, the city was accessed by 14 gates, which were opened in the morning to welcome travellers, pilgrims and other visitors, and closed each evening. The ancient city’s recent occupation has enabled researchers to begin to gather oral histories, painting a picture of what life was like inside its walls. These stories will one day be available to visitors who can look forward to tapping into AlUla Old Town’s living memory.
What You Can't Miss
Once AlUla Old Town re-opens to the public, visitors can visit and peek into the Masjid al-Izam, the restored Friday mosque mentioned in historic documents as having been visited by the Prophet Muhammad, who prayed here and designated the mihrab (or niche which the congregation faces to pray).
Travellers will also be able see the town’s tantora, or sundial, where residents tracked the changing seasons and organised access to water and other resources.
Staff and visitors alike are being prompted to wash their hands frequently with soap and water. You’ll find plenty of sanitisation stations at the main sites. Where handwashing facilities are not immediately available, sanitiser gel dispensers are provided.
A number of essential employees are on-site at any one time. Staff who come into contact with visitors are provided with masks and gloves. High-touch items and surfaces are disinfected frequently and areas are kept well ventilated.
A dedicated security team is on hand to help ensure the guidelines are observed. If you have any questions relating to travelling during the Covid-19 pandemic, please call the national helpline for tourism queries on 930, which is staffed around the clock.
Explore Hijaz Railway
Explore the Hijaz Railway and Hegra Fort