Most people who dream of visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) are inspired by the country’s holy cities of Mecca and Medina. If you are a Muslim faithful, you will definitely be impressed by KSA’s deep entrenchment into Islam. For non-Muslims, you will fall in love with the beautiful landscape that the kingdom has to offer.
However, did you know that besides Saudi Arabia being the heart of Islam and being rich in natural attraction sights, the kingdom is also home to some of the most magnificent architectural treasures you’ve ever seen? Well, there are great cities such as Riyadh and Jeddah that host many modern and ancient structural wonders. The cities are home to some of the biggest and most modern shopping malls in the world. This article explores 10 of these architectural treasures. But first:
Do You Need A Visa To Visit Saudi Arabia?
Yes and no. No because there are selected Middle East countries whose citizens aren’t required to carry a visa when entering Saudi Arabia. Yes because anyone who is not from such a visa-exempt country must receive a Saudi Arabia visa at their port of entry. If you are from the UK, US, or from one of the 54 countries that are eligible for an eVisa, you should acquire one online or at the port of entry. The visa will be valid for a maximum of 90 days. Those not eligible for this visa have to apply for a regular visa in the Saudi diplomatic mission back in their home country. It is important to understand the country’s visa policy before leaving home.
Top Ten Amazing Places to Visit In Saudi-Arabia
1. The Kaaba
Fondly referred to as al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah by the locals, this building will amaze you with its majestic architecture. It stands right at the center of the globally-popular Al-Masjid Al-Ḥarām, which is at the heart of the holy Hejazi city of Mecca. You should see this building especially if you are a muslim.
2.Abraj Al-Bait aka The Royal Clock Tower
This architectural masterpiece is open to people from all walks of life, both Muslims and non-Muslims. It is home to several hotels, tons of restaurants, magnificent shopping outlets, supermarkets, and countless food courts.
3. King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture
This building makes you feel like you are in London or New York. It is arguably the most architecturally-advanced building in the whole of the Middle East. You will have the chance to watch film screenings and performing arts in this building.
4. Al Faisaliah Centre
This iconic tower is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh. You can hike to the rooftop to get a panoramic view of the city. There are world-class restaurants here that serve foods from all over the world, except pork, of course.
5. Sky Bridge at Kingdom Center
This bridge also gives you the chance of seeing Riyadh from above. It is part of the Kingdom Tower, the 3rd tallest building in the capital. It is 65 meter long, starting from the tower’s 50th floor (Approximately 300 meters above the ground).
6. The Grand Masjid
Visit the masjid only if you are a Muslim. This place is magical not only because it is one of the holiest places in the Islamic world, but also because it is among the key architectural masterpieces that modern architects and engineers can learn a lot from.
7. Station of Ibrahim
This is another key architectural treasure that you need to see as a Muslim. You will have a chance to peek into the glass casing to connect with the great Prophet Ibrahim.
8. Historical Diriyah
This used to be the royal residence of KSA’s Royal Family but it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What remains now are the ruins of what was the greatest city within the city of Riyadh in the 19th century and the years before that.
The glorious Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has something for everyone. The best thing to do is to visit the country and explore it on your own. Note that there are architectural wonders within and outside the major cities, so you will need to take your time to explore them all. It will be great if you can pick up a few Arabic words before leaving home as they will come in handy for you when interacting with the locals. Many don’t speak a single English word.