Riyadh – the capital of Saudi Arabia

The border crossing from the Emirates to Saudi Arabia went smoothly. We had an e-Visa for Saudi Arabia, and paid car insurance at the border. The camper was scanned and we could go. Of course, in total, it took us about 3 hours.

We chose the direct route to Riyadh, with a stop for the night and another one to change a tire. When reaching the big city, we started tire hunting. In the end, we didn’t find the BF Goodrich we wanted but a good substitute and are now on the safe side again concerning tires. The noises the car makes are a different story, we have no idea what awaits us.

The second flat tire in a couple of days – this one is completely destroyed

But finally we had the time to visit some sights in Riyadh. First we went to the Masmak Fortress, a clay and mud brick fort built in 1865. The fortress played an integral role in the unification of Saudi Arabia, with the Battle of Riyadh, one of the most important conflicts of the Saudi unification, taking place in the fort. Sadly, it was closed for renovations.

Masmak Fortress

Next we went to the National Museum, which consists of eight big galleries, starting with the origin of the universe and the civilizations that existed from the 4th millennium BC. We learned about the history of Islam and the unification of Saudi Arabia. Interesting were also the models of the 2 most important mosques in Makkah (Mecca) and Medina, which we will not be able to visit as non-believers.

Rock engravings from the south of Saudi Arabia
In 1918 Riyadh was still surrounded by a city wall
Makkah (Mecca) mosque with the kaaba

On the other side of the square, we found a small car collection of King Abdulaziz.

Next to the museum stands the Murabba Palace, which was the first building that was erected outside the walls of the old city, built in 1938 as a family residence and court for the king which had electricity, lighting, fans, some air-conditioning, a central water supply, lavatories and even a lift.

Saudi men taking their cars out
Murabba Palace
Reception room where guests were welcomed
Murabba Palace

On our way to our parking, we came past a local bakery with a wood-fired oven, where still warm pitta bread was sold in big numbers.

Kingdom Tower or a huge bottle-opener

Our next stop was at what we called the “bottle-opener”, the highest building of Riyadh with 300 metres, with a Sky Bridge at the top. A lift takes you first to the 77th floor and another one to the 99th, where you can walk over the bridge with great views in both directions. Sadly, the air was not very clear that day.

View from the Sky Bridge

The next day we visited the historic Diriyah, the original home of the royal family of Al-Saud and the capital of the Emirate of Diriyah under the first Saudi dynasty from 1727 to 1818. The old mud buildings of the At-Turaif district were built in 1766 and are renovated or rebuilt. A couple of small museums are integrated. On the other side of the historic site lies an area of new restaurants, through which we entered. For sure, a lively location for dinner at night.

Diriyah oasis
At-Turaif district @ Diriyah – Salwa palace still under renovation
Najdi style architecture
Old door displayed in one of the exhibitions
Museum about the Arabian horses

After the big city, we found a little solitude at the “Edge of the World”, dramatic 300-metre high cliffs with panoramic views.

View from the edge to Faisal’s Finger
Sunset at the edge

We spent a very peaceful night here, before we went to explore more of Saudi Arabia.

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