​​​​​​​​​​​​Addiriyah was the capital of the First Saudi State from its establishment in 1745 CE until its fall in 1818. Located 35 km to the northwest of Riyadh on the banks of Wadi Hanifah, the Atturaif quarter of the ruined city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. The original seat of the Al Saud dynasty, Historic Addiriyah’s many grand palaces, mosques and fortifications have been painstakingly restored and developed into a living museum detailing life in 18th century Nejd, and the rise of the First Saudi State.

  Al-Turaif Quarter

The fortified citadel of Atturaif was the seat of government and the home of the Al Saud family. Surrounded by crenallated walls on a rocky bluff overlooking the wadi floor, Atturaif was unlike any other town in Nejd, with its large palaces and mosques, bathhouse, extensive defenses and many homes. At 22 m high, Salwa Palace is Atturaif’s tallest surviving building, towering over equivalent mud-towers found across the region. Adjacent is the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Mosque – both classic examples of Nejdi mudbrick architecture. With its UNESCO listing, Atturaif became the largest restoration of a mud-brick city in the world, transforming the site into a living heritage museum offering a full range of tourism services and facilities.

 Monuments of Diriyah

Between its foundation in the mid-15th century and its destruction in the early 19th century, Addiriyah underwent huge changes. Its rapid growth was mirrored in the grandeur of its of palaces, mosques and fortifications which demonstrate its historical significance. With walkways winding through the ancient capital, visitors can expect an evocative taste of 18th century Arabia as they wander the Salwa Palace and State Treasury, bathhouse and defensive ramparts.

 Historic districts

Addiriyah wasn’t a single city, but a collection of walled communities spread along the Wadi Hanifah. Across the wadi from Atturaif is Al Bujairi, the pedestrianized district which today serves as the gateway to historic Addiriyah. Some 1-2 km north up the wadi on the eastern bank is Ghasibah, the capital of the Emirate up until 1683, and the site of a famous battle during the siege of Addiriyah.

 Wadi Hanifah

With a catchment area of more than 4,500 km2, Wadi Hanifah is the largest wadi system in Nejd, extending 120 km southeast to the edges of the Empty Quarter. Underground aquifers and fertile soils along the wadi floors saw early farming communities develop throughout Wadi Hanifah. Over millennia the settlements grew into competing oasis towns, including Addiriyah which emerged as the capital of the First Saudi State. Since 1994, environmental rehabilitation of Wadi Hanifah has included the development of 80 km2 public parkland. Today Wadi Hanifah offers extensive walkways, seating, lakes, and 80 km of hiking trails and has had more than 50,000 trees and 7,000 palm trees planted.

 Al Bujairi

Across the wadi from Atturaif is the Al Bujairi district, which boasts unique buildings inspired by the surrounding environment and the palm groves and gardens along Wadi Hanifah. The pedestrianized courtyards offer a range of high quality shopping, dining and recreational facilities for all visitors, including restaurants, cafes and handicrafts and souvenir shops, an art gallery and historic mosque.

 Al Matwiya Garden

Overlooking Wadi Hanifah and Atturaif, Al Matwiya Garden is designed with relaxation in mind and offers vast green spaces that allow visitors to enjoy family time surrounded by natural beauty.

 Addiriyah Park

Numerous events are held in the beautiful green spaces of Addiriyah Park which is illuminated by night. Visitors can explore the  streams and dedicated children’s areas.

 Road to Diriyah

Approaching Addiriyah from Riyadh is a road of discovery. The first inkling of the historic significance of the place is the 100 meter pole where the national flag proudly flies before miles of restored defensive walls come into view, along the wadi heights around Al Bujairi and Atturaif. As the road narrows and more of the old city comes into view, visitors get a palpable sense of journeying from the modernity of Riyadh to the antiquity of Addiriyah..

 Al Zawihra Mosque

In the heart of Al Bujaira on the central square is the restored Al Zawihra Mosque. Built with mud bricks, it is a genuine testimony of traditional Nejdi design.

 Events and festivals

Events to suit all ages and tastes are constantly held in Addiriyah. In Al Matwiya Garden children’s activities are the norm, while the northern square regularly showcases  Saudi Ardah, art events and car shows.


Addiriyah is famed for its picturesque natural landscape, water courses and  gardens which offer a beautiful, verdant backdrop. 

 Diriyah on the world stage

Addiriyah’s historical significance has drawn several world leaders including former French leaders Jacques Chirac, and Manuel Valls, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, and the UK’s Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.

 “The Symbol of Glory in the History of Najd”

In this book, Najdi ​historian Uthman Ibn Bishr writes about his 19th century Addiriyah, saying: 
"We saw Diriyah during the period of Saud bin Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud, may Allah have mercy on them, the property of the people and the weapons decorated with gold and silver. They have also horses and beautiful Omani camels, elegant and luxurious clothes. Above all, they have uncountable gardens and children that can’t be described. One day I looked at its market. I was on the high ground, it was in the palace known as (Al Batin), located among the western houses, where Al Saud family lived , that was known as Al-Turaif, and the eastern houses, which were known as Al-Bujairi, where the sons of Sheikh Abdulwahab lived, I saw a market reserved for women on the other side, with all the gold, silver, weapons, camels, sheep and goats, many deals for sale and purchase, there were commercial shops on both eastern and western sides and they had a variety of tissues and clothes that can’t be described. Praise be to Allah who has remained his authority and his kingdom”.

 Addiriyah’s palaces

Addiriyah’s palaces and main building are characteristically built of mudbrick on stone foundations, giving the structural support for their impressive scale. The principle royal residence was Salwa Palace – really a collection of several interconnected palaces, while other significant buildings include Ibrahim Bin Saud Palace, Awqaf Al Moudi, Abdullah Palace Thunayan Palace, Omar Bin Saud Palace, Mishari bin Saud Palace, Al Farhan Palace, the Grand Mosque and the Beit Al Mal (state treasury).​
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