ThePlace: Al-Balad, Jeddah's historical heart

Friday, June 8, 2018

Al-Balad, otherwise known as Historical Old Jeddah, downtown Jeddah and the Gate to Makkah, is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Locals and non-locals enjoy walking down the old alleys and admiring the remnants of old Hejaz, making it a favorite tourist attraction in the city. 

The houses are made of recti ed stones, mined from Arabia Lake, positioned in place by size and separated by wooden planks to alleviate the heat of the area’s climate. One of its infamous sights, garnering attention from tourists’ all around the world is Nassif House. 

According to Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) sources, its existence may date back to the era before Islam. Some of the buildings are 400 years old. 

Old Jeddah includes a number of monuments and heritage buildings such as the Old Jeddah wall and its historical open squares such as Al-Mazloom, Al-Sham, Al-Yemen and Al-Bahr Haras. The Old Jeddah wall was built to fortify the city from attacks initiated by the Portuguese coming in from the Red Sea, but it was torn down in the 1940s due to urbanization. 

The area is also home to historic mosques such as Othman bin A an Mosque, Al- Shafe’i Mosque, Al-Basha Mosque, Akkash Mosque, Al-Mi’maar Mosque and Al-Hana Mosque. 

Souk Al-Nada is in the historic downtown area and is the most popular traditional market in Jeddah. It was established more than 150 years ago, and what distinguishes it from the rest is that it o ers all sorts of traditional dishes and fresh ingredients and commodities. Nowadays, Al-Balad gets pack-jammed during Ramadan due to its wondrous stalls and cultural festivals that brim with nostalgic themes and a yearning to the past.