When most people think of Saudi Arabia, the largest kingdom in the Middle East, they may instinctively picture a harsh desert landscape. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, particularly in Madinah.
In the western part of the country, where the Red Sea meets its shores, lies Madinah, Saudi Arabia’s second holiest city. But this tranquil city, nestled against the Uhud Mountains, is more than just a stop for pilgrims. It is a city rich in culture and heritage.
With the Kingdom recently opening up its borders to more tourism, many travelers are flocking to Madinah to bask in the city’s rich historical sites. The expansion of new hotels in Madinah near Haram offers alluring respite for the weary traveler.
A trip to Madinah is more than just a getaway; it is a rewarding retreat. To make the most of this tranquil city, read on to discover the most beautiful sights in and around Madinah.
- Mount Uhud
In Madinah, Mount Uhud stands atop all others. Located north of the city, Mount Uhud rises to 1,077 m (3,533 ft). Its short distance from the city makes it a fascinating day trip for travelers looking to get lost in the region’s rich history.
Notable historical events including the famous Battle of Uhud echoes through this ancient mountain, elevating its allure and charm.
- Al-Masjid an-Nabawi
With the exception of al-Masjid al-Haram in Makkah, no other mosque in Islam has as much historical and spiritual significance as Al-Masjid an-Nabawi. Al-Masjid an-Nabawi is one of the holy places to visit in Madinah.
Also known as the Prophet’s Mosque, Al-Masjid an-Nabawi is the second mosque in the history of Islam.
Not only is Al-Masjid an-Nabawi one of the world’s oldest mosques, it is also one of its largest. It was built by the Prophet himself when he reached Madinah. Today, the mosque stands as his final resting place.
- Wadi Al-Baida
Approximately 30 km (19 miles) northwest of Madinah lies Wadi Al-Baida. At first glance, this valley appears rather uncharacteristic. Yet, this valley draws the attention of thousands of travelers and locals.
Why? Because Wadi Al-Baida holds a mysterious secret. This mysterious valley seems to be able to move cars without the need for a driver. This has driven many locals to name the valley Wadi Al-Jinn or “Genie Valley.”
While many claim the “power of jinns” is responsible for this supernatural power, geological experts point this phenomenon to “reverse gravity,” attributed to the fact that the valley holds strong magnetic properties.
- Old Bazaar
Travelers looking to bring home memories of Madinah should make it a point to stop in the city’s Old Bazaar. Located in one of Madinah’s main streets, a short walk from Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, the Old Bazaar is a crowded shopping complex bustling with energy.
The Old Bazaar, with its colorful displays of incense, jewelry, brassware and Arabic coffee, offers travelers the perfect secular escape from the stifling heat of Saudi Arabia’s harsh climate.
- Dar Al Madinah Museum
The Dar Al Madinah Museum is a unique museum that specializes in the history, culture, and heritage of Madinah. Within its four walls, the city’s history, and Islam itself, all come alive, from the Prophet’s first arrival to the present day.
Travelers looking to take a journey through Madinah’s history and Islamic culture can experience a cultural break through the museum’s stories, legends, and unique collections.
- Masjid Al Qiblatain
This wonderful mosque is unique in that it has two qibla (direction of prayer). The name itself, Masjid Al Qiblatain, means the Mosque of the Two Qiblas. It was here that the Prophet received a revelation to change the direction of prayer.
This revelation changed the direction of prayer from Bait Al-Maqdis in Jerusalem to Ka’aba in Makkah.
- Mada’in Saleh
Mada’in Saleh is one of the Kingdom’s greatest treasures and its first UNESCO World Heritage site. Formerly known as Hegra, this place is an archeological puzzle; little is known about it. It is often compared to Petra in Jordan due to its decorative façade and numerous monumental tombs.
Judging from the Nabataean inscriptions and cave drawings found on site, Mada’in Saleh is believed to be the second capital of the ancient Nabataean civilization.
Walk along the path of history
Madinah is a fascinating city that’s as diverse as it is dramatic. Its beautiful mosques, traditional souks, and unmistakably warm people illuminate its profound history. The city’s surrounding areas are expansive, containing beautiful oases and untamed stretches of Red Sea coastline.
A stop in Madinah is a first-hand journey through the Kingdom’s spiritual and cultural past.
Ali Ozbay is the Director of Marketing for Shaza Hotels. The 5-star Shaza Hotel in Al Madina combines sophistication and location in effortless style, with each suite being, by intention, an emphatic expression of generous warmth and Eastern hospitality.