Riyadh sits on a desert plateau in the heart of Saudi Arabia. As the capital of the country and Saudi Arabia's financial hub, the city's business district is modern and exciting with several spectacular landmarks. These include the towering Al Faisaliath Centre and the iconic Kingdom Centre, with its two towers connected by a sky bridge. In the historical district of the city, the Masmak Fort is a fascinating visit. It was in this fort that Ibn Saud recaptured the city in 1902. Close by, the Murabba Palace was originally a royal palace but now houses an interesting museum. A pleasant few hours can be spent in the city's zoo, with several species of animals, birds and reptiles in spacious environments.
The city sees many fascinating and varied annual events, showcasing the traditions, produce and culture of Saudi Arabia. In July each year, the city hosts the Festival for Shopping and Leisure -- the perfect event for shopaholics. The fun two-week Al Janadriyah festival is held every year during February or March with local music, dancing and camel races, and during March and April, the Riyadh Spring Festival puts on a colourful display in the city.
Things to Do
There are many interesting sights in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital, both in the modern business district and the historical centre.
History at the Masmak Fort
The Masmak Fort lies in the heart of the city's historical centre and is a distinctive clay and mud-brick construction with thick walls and four watchtowers. It was here that Ibn Saud recaptured the city from King Mohammed Ibn Abdullah Ibn Rasheed on 14th January 1902, leading to what is now modern-day Riyadh.
The Royal Murabba Palace
Construction was completed on the Murabba Palace in 1938 as a residence for the king and his family, who moved there from Masmak Fort and stayed there until the king's death in 1953. These days the palace is a living museum open to the public, displaying many historic crafts and garments, a photographic archive and a memorial hall to King Abdulaziz.
Animal fun at Riyadh Zoo
The city's zoo was originally created in 1957 as a private menagerie for the king and his family.It was opened to the public in 1987. There are 350 species to be seen at the zoo, with the most popular animals being the African and Asian elephants, Bengal tigers, white rhinos and giraffes. Please note there are separate entry hours for men and children and women and children.
Calendar of Events
Many regular events and festivals are held in Riyadh throughout the year, including cultural and religious festivals.
Festival for Shopping and Leisure. Shopaholics will love this event held every year in July. It offers visitors to the city a true Saudi shopping experience, with many Arabic handcrafts, gemstones, rugs and other household goods on sale in the shopping malls and souks of the city.
Al Janadriyah festival. Lasting two weeks in February, Janadriyah is the country's largest cultural and folk festival, held 30 miles outside the city. The lively festival features music, dancing and poetry. There are also exciting camel and horse races.
Riyadh Spring Festival. Each year at March and beginning of April, the spring festival sees a colourful display of flowers and plants in the city along with various garden and agricultural products. The beauty of the flowers is in stunning contrast with the desert region surrounding the city.