Riyadh – An Epitome of Culture and Heritage
Perched on a desert plateau at 600 metres above sea level, Riyadh is the capital city of Saudi Arabia. Dotted with the plateaus of the highland region, the landscape is a beauty to behold. Even though the mountainous region features escarpments and mountains, such as Jilh Al-ʿIshār, Al-Khuff, and Ṭuwayq, the area comprising the city of Riyadh is a flat surface.
The city owes its name to the Arabic word ‘rawdah’ which translates to meadows or gardens. Riyadh does full justice to its name as the green gardens and colossal fertility of the city have always been the distinctive features that set it apart from other cities. Riyadh has always been at the forefront of the development of Saudi Arabia. It is not just the political and administrative capital of Saudi Arabia but is also considered the cultural capital of the Western Asia country. The reason behind this is the several cultural centres Riyadh is home to, including the National Museum of Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh has certainly come a long way since its inception from a quaint desert village to an ultra-modern city with skyscrapers galore touching the sky, including the Kingdom Centre. The 99-story tall skyscraper is an iconic landmark that is symbolic of the city and takes pride in being the fifth tallest skyscraper in Saudi Arabia. Thanks to the strategic location of Riyadh which is in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, the city serves as the melting pot of various traditions and cultures. Owing to its vibrancy and feel-good vibes, it for sure calls for a vacation in the city. Not for nothing do hordes of holidaymakers board a flight to Riyadh every year.
Why Travellers must visit Riyadh?
There’s no dearth of reasons why people must pay a visit to Riyadh at least once in their lifetime. Bustling with activities and events around the year, the city makes for a perfect place to enjoy a fun-filled vacation. The cultural life in the city is pretty evident from its several souks. These markets are famous tourist honeypots that welcome a sea of travellers and locals alike. No wonder these souks are considered the lifeline of the Saudi Arabian city. They are all family-friendly spots that offer plenty of recreational pursuits as per their native traditions.
Riyadh hasn’t just earned a reputation as the cultural capital of Saudi Arabia but also takes immense pride in being recognized as the heritage capital of the Arab world by UNESCO in 2001. There are a plethora of places in Riyadh that are the epitome of culture and heritage, such as Al-Jinadiriyyah, The King Abdulaziz Historical Centre, and the King ‘Abd al ‘Aziz Centre. They offer deep insight into the history of Saudi Arabia and are a must-see for all kinds of tourists, even those who aren’t history buffs.
Besides the abundance of culture, Riyadh also offers enchanting vistas of its skyline. Climb up to the top of the Faisaliah Tower to admire some breathtakingly amazing views. The Riyadh skyline is a feast for the eyes both during the daytime and at night. Those who get their jollies from spending time in natural surroundings must make their way to Al Bujairi Heritage Park, Heet Cave, and Jebel Fihrayn. You can take delight in unwinding and immersing in nature’s beauty.
Best places to visit in Riyadh
When it comes to the most sought-after tourist honeypots in the city, Masmak Fortress certainly sits on top of the list. It is a historic building that dates back to 1865 and was the site of the famous battle of Riyadh. The fortress has been converted into a museum, and you can explore the various exhibits showcasing the history and culture of the region. Its most notable feature is the enormous wooden door that weighs around 2.5 tons.
The Kingdom Centre is a stupendous skyscraper in Riyadh that dominates the city's skyline. It is one of the tallest buildings in Saudi Arabia and features a stunning glass facade. The tower boasts a shopping mall, luxury apartments, and a five-star hotel. You can take a high-speed elevator to the top floor, where you can behold panoramic views of the city from the observation deck.
The National Museum is the largest museum in Saudi Arabia that displays the history and culture of Saudi Arabia. The museum houses various exhibits, including artefacts from pre-Islamic times, ancient Islamic manuscripts, and traditional costumes. The museum also has a section dedicated to the history of Saudi Arabia's founding and development, and makes for a great spot to pique your curiosity.
Wadi Hanifah is a lush green valley that runs through the heart of Riyadh. It is a favourite recreational spot for locals and visitors alike and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Many wildlife species call the valley their home which features numerous walking trails, picnic areas, and scenic viewpoints.
Riyadh National Zoo
Sitting pretty in the centre of Malaz, Riyadh Zoo is home to more than 1,500 animals belonging to discrete species, even the endangered ones. It is a fun place for kids offering exclusive entertainment points. Restaurants, toilets, cafes, and prayer halls are available on the zoo’s premises for visitors’ convenience and comfort.
Riyadh’s Leading International Airports
Situated 35 kilometres North of Riyadh is the King Khalid International Airport which serves the entire city of Riyadh. The airport serves as a hub for Saudia, Flynas and Riyadh Air.