18 December 2014

Old Al Ula town – Al Ula

Old Al Ula is the ancient trading town comprising 1032 houses with narrow lanes passing in front of them. The town houses consisted of two levels, the first built of stones carried from the ancient site of al-Khuraybah was allocated for receiving guests and storage and the second floor built out of mud brick, was used for the living area with some of the lanes roofed to increase the area of the upper floors of the houses. The town was designed in a way that made it easy to defend with all houses joined to each other forming a fortification around the city and the fort was placed high above the centre of town, on a jabal, for added protection. There were 14 gates to the city, known locally as aswar, that were opened in the morning and closed in the evening. A wide route passes through the town where camel caravans passed and here a number of shops and other trading posts were placed. The town houses were built around an elevated area away from the valley, keeping it safe from torrential rain, streams and floodwater. The town is now disused and has fallen into disrepair but is a very interesting place to visit and is currently being renovated in parts with information boards to tell the visitor about some of the towns history. The famous traveller Ibn Battutah mentioned Al Ula as he visited there saying “Al Ula is a large and fine village with orchards, date palms and water. The pilgrimage caravans stay there for four days to resupply and wash. Pilgrims leave with the villagers any excess belongings they have as they are known for their trustworthiness and only take with them what they need for the journey”.

Taken by Julianna Babbington (Age 6)
Taken by Kerensa Babbington (Age 6)