Of Malls and Monuments: The Jeddah Diaries

The story of Jeddah is an intriguing one. This port city on Saudi Arabia’s western shores was founded more than 2500 years ago has flourished over time, and is now a full-fledged commercial behemoth. Despite its growth commercially, it has always stayed true to its religious roots as well.

Jeddah acts as the gateway through which the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina has to be undertaken. The transition from the flourishing port city to the commercial capital is evident throughout the city, with architecture representing both the old and the new.

Jeddah is internationally recognized nowadays mainly because of its commercial development. The city has seen the rise of several world-class malls, which offer shoppers a whole host of international brands to choose from. This hyper-development has seen Jeddah tourism hitting dizzying heights, and people from all over the world are coming in everyday in search of what this ancient land has to offer.

More than just malls

Jeddah’s offerings to tourists in terms of sights and sounds are much more than the many amazing malls that have cropped up recently. This historic city has a side to it that has been a bit overlooked in the rush of the ever-increasing commercial boom. And that historic side includes traditional Arab architecture which can be seen in all its glory in the many mosques and monuments that are scattered throughout the city. The following places feature some of the best architectural structures in Jeddah:

  • Al-Balad District: Al-Balad is the older part of Jeddah, the piece of history that is slowly being eclipsed by many a Shopping Mall Saudi Arabia. This part of the city will always hold great value historically and culturally, because this is where Jeddah was originally founded. The architecture of Al-Balad generally features houses made of coral blocks along with palm wood lattices. The government has done a commendable job by preserving and protecting the buildings of this area.

  • Mansions: Several mansions from the past are scattered around the city and make for exceptional viewing. The Sharbatly and Nasif mansions were owned by noble merchants, and are now frequented by tourists. Featuring richly decorated interiors and glorious Arabian architecture, these mansions play key roles in promoting Jeddah Tourism.

  • The Municipality Museum: The building housing this famous museum was first built during the first part of the 20th century and like many buildings of the Al-Balad District features the use of coral stones. The museum is home to several artefacts of historical significance.

  • Abdel Raouf Hasan Khalil Museum: This museum is primarily for art enthusiasts, who can find paintings and tapestries here which date back almost 500 years. The venue also acts as a regular host for contemporary art exhibitions, where young artists showcase their talents.

  • “The Tomb of Eve”: Legend says that an old Christian cemetery in Jeddah houses “the tomb of eve”. This spot is popular among many Christian tourists.

Apart from many a Shopping Mall Saudi Arabia, Jeddah is also home to several other interesting places known for their historic and scenic importance.