The Lonely Castle of Mada'in Saleh

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Mada'in Saleh is an ancient city of pre-Islamic period located in northern Saudi Arabia, about 1,400 km to the north of capital Riyadh. It lies in a strategic position on one of the most important ancient trade routes, which linked the south of the Arabian peninsula to the north, as well as to the great economic and cultural centres of Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt. It is considered one of the most important and oldest ancient cities in the country and the second largest city of the Nabateans who rules in the first century AD.

Today, Mada'in Saleh is an archeologically important site with majestic ruins that are often compared with those of Petra. The most stunning among these ruins and the most iconic symbol of Mada’in Saleh is Qasr al-Farid, rising four stories tall not far from the center of the ancient Nabataean city of Hegra.

“Qasr al-Farid” means “the lonely castle”, so called because it stands completely isolated from the others. But despite its fanciful name, Qasr al-Farid is only a tomb. It was carved out of a single rock sometime in the first century A.D., but its facade was never finished which makes the tomb an interesting study.

The heavily chiselled surface of the lower third documents how these tombs were fashioned from the top down. Qasr al-Farid is just one of ninety-odd such monumental tombs carved here during the heyday of the Nabataeans.

Other tombs of Mada'in Saleh


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