- Location:Northwest of Saudi Arabia
- Attraction Type: City/Archaeological Site
- Significance: Historical wonder in Saudi Arabia
- Best Time To Visit: From November to March
- How To Reach: Accessible by car from anywhere in Saudi Arabia. You can also fly to and drive the rest of the way from either Madina, Hail or Al Wajh to Al Ula.
- Nearest Airport: The nearest airports are in Al Wajh and Medina
The most spectacular archaeological site in Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly Mada’ in Saleh. It is considered second only to the famous Petra in Jordan in terms of Nabataean architectural remains. The site is well known for its more than 80 rock-cut tombs, reflecting the wealth of the Nabateans who levied taxes on the camel trains on the incense route to Mesopotamia, Greece and Egypt in the first century AD and before. Unlike Petra, Mada’ in Saleh was never colonized by the Romans.
It is a prominent historical wonder in Saudi Arabia. In 2008, UNESCO declared Mada’ in Saleh as the World Heritage Site.
What To see in Mada’ in Saleh
Mada’ in Saleh in Saudi Arabia, also known as al-Hijr, was once inhabited by the Nabataeans some 2000 years ago. The Nabataeans are of Arab origin and became affluent by their monopoly on the trade of incense and spice. Mada’ in Saleh has about 130 dwellings and tombs that extend over 13 kilometers. However, Muslims around the world believe that Mada’ in Saleh was built and first inhabited by the people of Thamud.
Most of the tombs and dwellings at Mada’ in Saleh are still in good condition and are really marvelous. There are a number of tombs in Mada’ in Saleh that are unfinished. These incomplete tombs and facades helped discover the archaeologists the stages of its carving. The mason started carving the tombs from top to bottom.
The faí§ades of the dwellings are carved out from the mountains. An eagle and a pair of urns is the common carving found at the facades of tombs in Mada’ in Saleh. The inside of their dwellings are not similar and it seems they were built for different purposes. Some are small with low ceiling while others are more spacious. These days many of the dwellings and tombs need stairs to reach.
During your journey from Al Ula to Mada’ in Saleh, the orange rusty color of the sand, the huge rock formations and the isolation of the place will mesmerize you. It is quiet and peaceful and brings you close to nature.
Accommodation near Mada’ in Saleh
You can stay at the Mada’ in Saleh Hotel. It is comfortable and has all the amenities of a good hotel. There is also the Arac Hotel. Mada’ in Saleh does not have good restaurants, In fact, hotels are the best places to eat.