Exploring Jeddah´s historical old city and beyond

Jeddah

Though it's known for its prosperous commercial center, Jeddah's true allure is its rich history. Don't miss out on these meaningful sites when you're planning your dream trip.

Jeddah's busy Red Sea trading port and proximity to the holy city of Mecca have helped carve it a varied, soulful culture and history. If you're planning a historical tour of Jeddah, make sure to map out your top destinations before heading out. Saudi Arabia's second largest city is full of important historical sites, so planning is important if you want to see them all. Whether you're in the city for a few days or have more time for sightseeing, here are some essential historical spots that shouldn't be missed.

Al-Balad

At the heart of the modern urban sprawl, you'll find historic Jeddah – the most ancient part of the city. The unusual coral buildings are identifiable by their crumbling architecture and intricately decorated doors. Though these once-grand structures are mostly being left to decay, one recently renovated example is Naseef House, built in 1872. This seven-floor museum was once home to an influential trading family and features staircases wide enough for camels to pass through. Take note of the tree by the front door – it's the oldest in Jeddah.

As you stroll around this ancient part of the city, look up to spot traditional architectural features like mashrabiyya – protruding wooden screens that act as windows. Their carved holes serve the dual purpose of catching the breeze to cool the air, and shading women inside from the view of the street.

This part of Jeddah is alive with traditional markets, or souks, including a fish market selling the day's fresh catch of hammerhead sharks, parrot fish and squid. There are stalls selling coffee, leather bags and incense, and even a gold market, where you can haggle for the best price.

MEH21

Khuzam Palace

Constructed in 1932, Khuzam Palace was designed in the traditional Arabian style of imposing white buildings with swooping, opulent arches. Commissioned by King Abdulaziz, the palace was the setting for a truly historical moment; the signing of the first agreement to allow digging for petrol in Saudi Arabia, now the largest oil producing nation in the world.

Of the palace's original buildings, only the towering gates, Royal Court and the King's living space still remain. Now, the expansive building houses a public swimming pool, a park, Queen Effat College and a museum of archeology and ethnology. It also contains the King Saud mosque, the largest mosque in Jeddah covering an area 9700m², built in 1987 and less than a ten-minute walk from our Radisson Blu Hotel, Jeddah.

Historic mosques

Jeddah is known as the gate to Makkah​, or Mecca, the holiest city in Islam. Any pilgrims arriving by sea would pass through the city first. This rich spiritual culture is reflected in the city's many historical mosques.

The oldest is the Al-Shafe'i mosque, which was built in the 7th Hijri century (13th century AD). Located in Al-Jame'i market, it's notable for its unusual Ottoman quadrangle design with no dome and an open-air central space. Within walking distance, you'll find the 9th-10th Hijri century Othman bin Affan mosque, or Abanous (Ebony) mosque, so-called because of the two ebony poles that form its supporting structure.

Tell us what you think