Al-Ula has a very ancient history of sorts, since there are many worthwhile sites to be visited at this north-western Saudi Arabian old city. The setting of the valley is such that palm groves are there in the center of a dry riverbed with towering red-sandstone cliffs rising up on both sides. It is a highly visited place in recent years due to the presence of Madain Saleh, which is a UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site lying close to it. Cleartrip helps in hotel and flight bookings.
The town has many pre-Islamic edifices dating back to sixth century BC, along with a lot of conventional Arab architecture due to which it is often visited by many tourists. Its strategic location was also very helpful for it to fall within the incense and spice trade routes that used to take place from North Africa, Levant, and Egypt. The Lihyanites accorded it the status of their capital, and it was known as ‘Dedan’ during those times. As such, there are a lot of monuments, amazing viewpoints, and museums in Al-Ula. Some of them are discussed here for complete understanding:
• Al-Ula Fort – It is an ancient fort built probably during the 6th-century to fortify the village completely. The fort is built on an elevated land, and red sandstone blocks were used for its construction due to which the sight of the fort is quite glamorous. Visitors can make a climb to the top using the 45-meter high staircase, and the trek may not be very difficult for any tourist. The panoramic view of the complete valley from the top can be quite mesmerizing, and the surrounding reddish cliffs can be seen in the most satisfying way.
• Al-Ula Viewpoint – The place is fairly deserted, and to reach it, visitors have to pass through a Martian-type of a landscape that is covered with dark basalt rocks. A park at the top of the plateau can greet visitors with lonely looking fencing on the borders. Here, as one raises the head, the complete surrounding can suddenly take over one’s mind. The Al-Ula valley can be seen in all its splendor completely covered by the towering red-rock hills on all sides. The view can be incomparable to any other place in the country, due to which it is fast becoming a tourist place of heavy interest.
• Al-Ula Antiquities and Heritage Museum – It is a small but eloquently designed museum that offers ample information about the place. Some interesting and informative facts are shared on the culture, heritage, geography, and the rich past of the region. Visitors can get an inside peek of the whole place by visiting this museum. It also shares some working information related to the Nabataean culture and Madain Saleh. People who visit this museum will be able to tell a lot better about Al-Ula and the offerings that can be expected at the place.
• Jebel Khuraibah – It consists of three mountain peaks and a fortress is built upon it that looks imposing due to its marvelous structure. The complete mountainous area made up the capital of the ancient Lihyan kingdom. At the foothills of the Khuraibah lay many tombs that were made from rocks, and the ‘Lion Tomb’ present here makes a wonderful sight. Keeping with its name, a lion stands guard at both sides of the entrance and looks quite magnificent. During the climb up on its central peak, a large headless figure can be encountered that is completely made of sandstone. Further up, one can see that all the three mountains are linked to each other through walls and stone stairs, thus the fortress can be reached very easily.
• Mt. Almejder – It is perhaps another mountain in Al Ula that carries a rich history of its ancient past. This 300-meter tall mountain is situated on the eastern side of Al Ula, and though some research has been conducted on it, there is still a lot to be revealed about it. The mountains have caves that feature pre-Islamic drawings and engravings which are yet to be fully discovered by historians and archaeologists. No doubt that the mountain has some significant past.
• Al-Ula Heritage Village – This traditional village of Al-Ula is driving tourists in hordes from all across the world, and there is a plan underway to accord it an official ‘tourist destination’ tag. The mud ruins of this settlement date back to at least a few hundred centuries when the ancestors of the current Al-Ula residents used to dominate the landscape. The place can be quite intriguing, thought-provoking, and mysterious for all the different things that are present here in the form of an old mosque, sundial, etc.
It is a very large settlement that is there on both sides of the highway, and the top western area has received the much-needed restoration that was due for it. However, the lower side on the east has not received the much-needed facelift, and the place can be better described as being completely untreated. A visit here can help in understanding the lifestyle of those times along with many types of equipment that was in use during the period.
• Umm-al-Daraj – There are three red-sandstone structures atop a small hill on the northern side of the old town. There is a sacrificial altar from the Lihyanite period within the same area with some fascinating inscriptions on them. Umm-al-Daraj translates to ‘Mother of Steps’ and finding it exactly can be a bit tedious, so the help of a local guide may have to be taken for the purpose. The complete site is in a deserted area, but once reached, all tiredness can just melt away because the place has an amazing charm of its own.
Al-Ula has a certain mystery to it, and there are a few places within the area about which not much is still known. But visiting the place can be a very satisfying experience, especially for intriguing tourists who value adventure of all sorts. Moreover, Cleartrip helps in hotel and flight bookings and easy travel planning.