The Second UNESCO Heritage site, At-Turaif District in ad-Diriyah

One of the most significant sites in Saudi history, At-Turaif District in Diriyah is considered an open-air museum packed with Najdi architectural beauty and mementos from the Kingdom’s early days. This district, nestled within the palm trees of Wadi Hanifa to the northwest of Riyadh, was first founded in the 15th century BCE and around mid-1700s became the capital in the very first Saudi Dynasty. It is well known today for its decorated mudbrick structures that have earned it a spot as the Kingdom’s second entry on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list in 2010.


The largest standing structure in At-Turaif is Salwa Palace, royal residence of Mohammed bin Saud the founder of the first Saudi state that paved the way for today’s Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and was its ruler from 1727 until his death in 1765 after which his eldest son Abdulaziz took rule. It was the administrative hub of Diriyah where state leaders conferred on matters of politics, business and social events. The palace is made up of 10,000 square meters and three floors divided into 7 sections consisting of a reception area, administrative units, a mosque, a seating area (majlis), a school, Diriyah museum, and a public gathering space.


At-Turaif is at the heart of the Diriyah Gate giga-project aiming to boost tourism to the region through a $50 billion plan which is transforming Diriyah town into a top destination for travelers from around the globe. It aims to showcase history, lifestyle and cultural heritage through curated galleries, museums, restaurants, world-class hotels, residences, shops, and cultural and educational facilities; all designed in a style that pays homage to the old charm of Najdi architecture while utilizing modern sustainability advances for urban living.


The town was restored and preserved under UNESCO guidelines and has witnessed the development of immersive cultural and entertainment experiences by Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) that shine a light on its heritage and traditions and demonstrates the hospitality of the local people. The official DGDA website offers a comprehensive virtual guide of all important sights and features located in the area.


Plan your tour of At-Turaif and Diriyah with the help of our experts at Sana Tourism! Our experience and partners network across the industry will ensure a brilliantly memorable trip. Get in touch with us for any inquiries.

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