history of AlUla
A crossroads of civilizations
Located at the crossroads of continents, Saudi Arabia has been a fantastic meeting point for civilizations who left behind an abundant heritage.
AlUla is an eloquent symbol of this richness. For centuries, its oasis has been a crossing point for caravans on the Incense trade route, which connected Asia, Africa and Europe, transiting spices, myrrh, cotton, ebony and silk.
The memory of civilizations
The oasis city, once named Dedan, has successively been ruled by Ancient North Arabian Kingdoms (Dedan then Lihyan), then by the Nabataeans who founded the ancient city of Hegra 20 kilometers away, then by the Roman Empire, before Muhammad’s arrival in 630 A.D. during his campaign against the Byzantine army. All these civilizations stamped the region with their unique culture, leaving exceptional archaeological sites for posterity.
Carrying the memory of their predecessors, in the 13th century Muslims reused the stones of the Dedanite and Lihyanite ruins to build what we call today the Old Town of AlUla.
Al Khuraybah, capital of the Liyhanite Kingdom during the first millennium B.C., has thousands of inscriptions and ancestral artworks carved in the sandstone.
Jabal Ikma, the largest open-air library in Saudi Arabia, presents hundreds of inscriptions and writings dating back to the Dadanite and Lihyanite periods.
The Nabataeans, an ancient civilization of Arabian merchants, founded the ancient city of HEGRA - sibling of Petra - whose flagship site Madain Saleh, listed as Unesco world heritage since 2008, houses 138 rocky tombs, sanctuaries, wells, decorated frontages, etc.
In 106 A.D., the Roman emperor Trajan annexed the Kingdom and marked AlUla Valley with Greek and Latin influence: military forts, Latin inscriptions and works.
A vast desert area located in Madinah province, AlUla conceals remarkable and diversified landscapes including stunning rarities such as: yellow sand panoramas, sandstone canyons, black lunar volcanic plateaus, red shaded landscapes, natural arches.
In the heart of these desert landscapes, passing by a narrow sand valley surrounded by high sandstone cliffs, one can discover an oasis whose palm grove sheltered the caravans on the Incense trade route.
The oasis is AlUla’s heart and soul; civilizations have long been taking root on these fertile lands, allowing them to express the genius of their culture.