Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The King Abdul Aziz Historical Center

After visiting King Saud University and returning to the hotel for lunch the group drove over to the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center. First we visited the National Museum of Saudi Arabia which was built in 1999. The museum was very new-looking (as with everything in Saudi Arabia) and had a very large entrance/lobby area. The exhibits covered all of Saudi history from "Man and the Universe" to modern times in the country. There was also a large exhibit about the Hajj and the two holy mosques. 

Outside of the National Museum. 

The museum's main lobby/entrance. 

A meteorite found in the empty quarter of Saudi Arabia.
In the background you can see our Ministry of Higher Education guide, Abdullah. 

A model of the Kaaba and Mecca.
After visiting the Museum for two hours or so we headed to a historical fort called Al-Masmak.  The fort is famous for being recaptured by Ibn Saud, the founder of the modern Saudi state, on January 14th, 1902. It has been turned into a small museum celebrating the battle and the victory of Ibn Saud over his rivals, the Al-Rashid family. There is a tiny door at the front of the structure where Ibn Saud had fierce hand to hand combat (with who I forget) and finally opened the door into the fort. There is a mark on the door that is very famous for where a sword (I believe Ibn Saud's) hit the door during the conflict. 

Outside of the fort structure. 

  The tiny door where Ibn Saud finally entered the fort. 

You can see the place where a sword or bayonet
was pushed into the door by Ibn Saud.

It was very nice to visit the historical part of the city, which has been refurbished very recently. Before entering the fort, we wandered around some of the old marketplaces, looking for an ATM so that people could take out some Saudi riyals. When we returned to the main street of stores it was the maghrib prayer and everything was completely closed up. We could see at least three mosques in the area and could hear the beautiful call to prayer or adhan. It was actually the first time that I could hear the prayer clearly in the city and it was a beautiful, relaxing experience. We stood outside of the fort int the twilight and silently listened to the prayers.

That wraps up the rest of my December 30th in Riyadh. Tonight, I will try and post about my New Year's Eve day yesterday. Happy 2014 everyone!  

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