Located in the centre of the Saudi Arabian desert is Hegra, an old city which was home to the ancient Nabataean civilization; it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its inventiveness and artistry. Hegra remained unchanged for centuries, and the mysteries of what lay under the sands were buried deep.
However, only recently did the city reopen its gates for visitors and let them know what it was like to be in a place of caravans, traders’ desks, and grandiose tombs.
A Nabataean Legacy
The Nabataeans were a nomadic nation that was successful in the Arabian Peninsula for some two centuries, from the 2nd century BCE to the first century CE. Naturally, they were skilled traders and merchants who controlled the profitable incense trade route that spanned South Arabia to the Mediterranean world. Their capital city was Hegra, a vibrant city, the center of cultures and religions.
Marvels in Stone
The tombs of Hegra are, without a doubt, the most striking feature. These architectural wonders have been carved directly into the sandstone cliffs, and they silently tell about the glorious history of the city. The facades of the tombs are decorated with elaborate carvings depicting stories from Nabataean mythology and everyday life.
From the famous Kasbah, a monumental tomb with a stepped pyramid to Jabal al-Madhbah, an extensive necropolis which in itself houses over 100 tombs.
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Beyond the Tombs
Though Hegra’s tombs are the main attraction, there is much more to discover in the city. The Siq is a natural wonder on its own, leading to the primary necropolis. The caravan trail that snakes its way through the desert was once used by traders transporting frankincense, myrrh and other valuables to different destinations, showing where the Nabataean’s trade routes went.
The Hegra Museum, which resides in an antiquated Ottoman fortress, reveals information on Madinah’s historical and cultural heritage.
A Journey Through Time
Visiting Hegra is not only a sightseeing tour, it is a trip across time. As you stroll through the old tombs, admire the fine carvings and think of life in lively caravans that used to pass these places in a long-gone time. Hegra is a place where history comes to life, giving an incredible glimpse into the lives and culture of the Nabataean people.
Planning Your Visit
Hegra lies in the Madain Saleh district of Saudi Arabia, around 200 kilometers north of Medina. The city can be reached by road or air, with the neighbouring airport being Prince Abdul Majeed Airport in Madinah. A special permit is required to visit the archaeological site, and the arrangements can be made at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.
Visiting Hegra is best in the cooler months, from October to April. The weather is pleasant, and the crowds are less. However, it must be observed that Hegra is situated in a desert climate, so the temperatures can still be very high even during the winter.
A Hidden Gem
Hegra is a hidden treasure, a place where ancient history and natural beauty converge. Hegra is a stunning, fun and unique place to visit with its captivating tombs, amazing history and fascinating desert setting as a backdrop. So that, if you want to have an experience off the beaten track, Hegra should be a part of your travel bucket list. You will not be disappointed.
People May Also Ask
How is Hegra in Islamic history?
Hegra was a halting place along the Hajj path from where pilgrims could get provisions and water. 14th-century traveller Ibn Battuta also provided one of the accounts, narrating about red stone-cut tombs in Hegra at that time as “al-Hijr,” however, he did not say anything about human activity there.
Who lived in Hegra?
The first World Heritage property in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the Hegra Archaeological Site (al-Hijr / Madā ͐ in Ṣāliḥ. Formerly called Hegra, it is the biggest protected area of Nabataen south civilization Petra in Jordan.
Are there so many tombs in Hegra?
With numerous intact tombs dating from the first century BC to the first century AD, Hegra is always worth visiting. Hegra, with its 111 monumental-sized tombs, illustrates the extraordinary architectural skills of the Nabateans, and Hegra is indeed one of AlUla’s most iconic sites.
Which is the modern city in Saudi Arabia?
Madā’in Ṣāliḥ or Hegra (Al-Ḥijr is an old city that is situated around 1,400 km (870 mi.) north of Riyadh at the northern tip of the Hejazi region in Saudi Arabia. Madā’in Ṣāliḥ is viewed as one of the most important and oldest ancient cities in the country.