Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah [ Saudi Arabia ]

cultural property

        2009-2013 | listed in 2014 | english

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Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah is an urban and architectural ensemble representing the culture and lifestyle of the Red Sea settlements between the 16th and the 19th century, when this region played a pivotal role in the East-West commerce.

The old city of Jeddah still preserves some 350 historic houses and large parts of its original urban fabric, with its traditional souks, shadowed dead-end impasses and small squares. The façades of the imposing palaces built in the 19th century by its mercantile urban elites are the preeminent example of the Red Sea architectural tradition. Built with coral blocks and wooden embedded beams, these houses are decorated by elaborate wooden oriels favouring the ventilation and permitting to survive the hot and humid climate of the region.

Unfortunately, only scant vestiges of this style – once common to cities on both coast of the Red Sea – are preserved outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the nominated property.

Furthermore, because of its intimate association with the annual Muslim pilgrimage (hajj), The historic city of Jeddah is a unique urban and human environment that boasts, differently from any other Arabian settlement apart from Makkah, a cosmopolitan population where Muslims from Asia, Africa and the Middle East reside and work contributing to the city’s growth and wealth.


SCTA (Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


February 2009 / February 2013
listed in June 2014


UNESCO World Heritage Centre / Historic Jeddah

SCTH website / Historic Jeddah

SCTH publication / booklet

Heritage sites in Saudi Arabia

The Nomination Document builds upon the Management Plan coordinated by RCH in 2008. RC Heritage has worked in close cooperation with Jeddah Municipality and their national and international consultants, and with SCTH staff in Jeddah and Riyadh. Regular meetings were held in Jeddah, Riyadh, Cairo and London, with the concerned stakeholders.