Saudi is seeped in history; we live with it and around it all the time. But sometimes it takes a second look to appreciate just how vast the cultural heritage is throughout the country. Here’s a handy overview of the museums that have stood out for local and international visitors alike. Bookmark this page, because you’ll want to visit them all!
The National Museum of Saudi Arabia
The National Museum of Saudi Arabia was built in 1999 and is part of the King Abdulaziz Historical Centre in Riyadh. Although plans for this impressive structure were around since the 1980s, the actual planning and building of the museum from scratch took only 26 months to complete. The architecture is inspired by the form and colors of the sand dunes of the "Red Sands" just outside Riyadh.
As one reviewer pointed out, the impressive museum is a “must-visit,” where you can find artifacts and even see a huge meteor. It also has a large exhibition of Qurans and lots of information about the history of Islam. And for those who want to take home a piece of their memorable visit, there is also a lovely gift shop.
Al Tayebat International City
This gem is situated in the center of Jeddah has been praised for the beautiful upkeep of its historical architecture and its dazzling display of artifacts that are largely focused on Saudi history and culture, but also on artifacts from the neighboring countries and international Islamic art in general. Visitors have praised Al Tayebat International City for providing an absolutely unique opportunity to learn more about the regional culture – and because there’s just so much to see, others recommend carving out at least 2-3 hours if you want to explore every one of the four floors.
Scitech Technology Center
Now to a place where you can experience your daily life in a completely new way: At Scitech you can find the explanation for scientific phenomena that have long bewildered and amazed you. This Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Charity Foundation project was voted the top museum to visit in Al Khobar and can hold its own with the latest scientific centers in the world. Sounds a bit on the serious side? It’s actually an oasis for young and old alike. Scitech has seven major exhibition halls with more than 350 scientific displays, an IMAX theater, an astronomical observatory and a huge aquarium with colorful fish and corals.
Of course being the second most important city for Islam is highly notable, but there’s also a specific place to visit in Medina if you want to deepen your appreciation for Islamic history. Being called “exceptionally memorable” by visitors, the Madina Museum was voted the top museum to visit in the city. The building itself is actually the former, and famous, Hejaz Train Station that was built in 1908 that was since repurposed to house historical artifacts. The museum is divided into sections that explain the history of the holy city and the local living style. You can also find paintings, stone-carved manuscripts, and great collection of antiques.
As its name indicates, Tabuk Castle was actually once a real fortress, one that originally dates back all the way to the 35th century BC! It was actually one of several forts built along the pilgrimage route and its name, which translates to “Companions of the Wood” is even mentioned in the holy Quran. Voted the top museum to visit in Tabouk, it features a ground-floor mosque, an open courtyard and a stairway that ascends to the castle’s second mosque and watchtowers. Outside are cisterns that once captured spring water from a well. The museum has a large collection of antiques and documents dating to the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Get a taste of royalty at this beautiful historical building that was used by several generations of the royal family and by governors of Hijaz. Shubra palace was built in 1905 on the orders of Sharif Ali Pasha and to this day the palace is the most stunning reminders of old Taif, with latticework windows and balconies and marble throughout the interior.
Al Bassam Heritage House
This well-preserved Arabian Mud House is situated near the western gate of Onaizah’s old city (previously called Bab Al Khala) and was designed and arranged to resemble the unique style of clay architecture that is associated with the houses in Najd. One visitor explained that visiting the Bassam Heritage House is an unforgettable experience that will make you feel like a time traveller because it takes you back to the traditional way people lived over two centuries ago.
This museum boasts more than ten thousand rare, historical documents pertaining to the first people who lived in the region, as well as the tools and commercial route maps they used. Visiting the Aloqilat Museum is a great way to ponder the rich history of Saudi Arabic and consider where our ancestors came from and how they interacted and went on to build relationships and commercial exchanges with other countries in the region.
There’s just so much to see all throughout Saudi! This list is a quick overview of the top-rated museums that have made a lasting impression on people from all over the world, but most importantly, here at home as well. We are rightfully proud of our cultural heritage that spans thousands of years and is leading the way in preserving our past achievements, appreciating them in the present, and considering them when planning for the future.