On the occasion of the centenary of Kingdom’s foundation by King Abdulaziz, may the mercy of Allah be upon him, King Abdulaziz Historical Center was established on Shawwal 5, 1419H (23 January 1999) and has become one of the most important cultural and heritage landmarks in Riyadh. The Royal Commission for Riyadh City was responsible for the project’s planning, intellectual content and urban design.
King Abdulaziz Historical Center was established as a national landmark, a reminder of the divine blessing upon our country, and an exhibition of the history of the Arabian Peninsula, the immortal massage of Islam and the solid grounds on which Saudi Arabia was founded. This would inspire us to continue the constructive procession started by King Abdulaziz, may the mercy of Allah be upon him.
King Abdulaziz Historical Center is located in Al-Murabba’ Quarter, the central area of Riyadh. The total area of KAHC is over 440,000 m²bordered by Prince Abdullah bin Jalawi bin Turki Street on its west, King Faisal Street on its east, Al-Delam Street on its north, and Al-Foutah Garden on its southern side.
King Abdulaziz Historical Center reflects Riyadh’s heritage, culture and history, and blends with its architectural environs. The project is part of Qasr Al-Hukm development program carried out by Royal Commission for Riyadh City.
The center has modern and multipurpose facilities that transforms it into a cultural oasis, where visitors can find entertainment and benefit from its premises. The center hosts the Public Park, National Museum, Antiquities and Museums Headquarter, Al-Murabba’ Palace, Traditional Mud Buildings, Darat Al-Malik Abdulaziz, King Abdulaziz Public Library, King Abdulaziz Mosque, King Abdulaziz Auditorium, and a modern road network in addition to many public utilities like the mosque and walkways.
The design is exceptionally environment-friendly with vast green spaces where various trees and shrubs were planted to alleviate the pollution and high temperatures, filter the air, and serve the neighboring districts.
The large numbers of visitors were taken into consideration; so, all the surrounding streets were renovated and the section of King Saud Road, which passes across the center, was restructured to allow passage of both vehicles and pedestrians simultaneously. The parking areas were also scattered across the center with a total capacity of 1100 cars. They are shadowed in an innovative way to allow the growth of trees and to replace the artificial shadows in the future.
The Center has five main fenced parks, and an open one, in addition to main Maydan (plaza), an oasis of palm trees and a water stream flowing from an old well. The 20,000-m2 Maydan falls in the heart of King Abdulaziz Historical Center and hosts social and cultural celebrations during the different occasions and Eids.
The parks’ total area is about 20,000-30,000 m², i.e., the majority of the Center’s area. The other facilities of the Center seem as natural islands surrounded by green areas. The palm tree is a symbol of patience and gratitude, therefore, palm trees were used to expressively exemplify the years of struggle of the Kingdom. A palm oasis of 100 palm trees, indicates elapse of 100 years since foundation of the Kingdom, overlooks the Maydan at a relatively high ground. In the northern part of the Maydan, an old water well was reconstructed. Water is bumped from the well in a water stream running across the central Maydan and terminating in an artificial lake and fountain.
Situated at the eastern side of the Main Square, the museum’s two-story modern building accommodates the latest museology and display techniques. The building, covering an area of 28,000 m², consists of eight main galleries and two others for short-term exhibits, plus the major facilities of the museum. The National Museum has been designed after studying various renowned museums worldwide to ensure that it would be a national cultural landmark.
The museum’s approach to portray human history is derived from the Islamic facts and realities found in the Creation of Man. Here, a unique method is adopted to show the sequence of historical developments. Each of the main galleries represents a particular period of time; beginning with the creation of the universe, up to the present era.
Touring the museum would enable the visitor to journey from mysteries of the birth of the universe, through the prehistoric times and ancient civilizations, and to the early pre-Islamic (Jahiliyya) era. Then comes the galleries of advent of Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, and the Islamic civilization, followed by the Saudi States gallery. Last of all comes the gallery concerning Hajj and the Two Holy Mosques.
Located at the Western side of the Center’s main Maydan, the Darah (King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives) is one of the major elements of King Abdulaziz Historical Center. The 7000-m²building, housing the Darah, was built at the site of the residential palace of King Abdulaziz with a total built area of 12,000 m². It has been reconstructed without affecting the basic features of the palace.
A new 3000-m²headquarter for Antiquities and Museums Sector was annexed to the National Museum. The building is functionally independent from the museum. The building has two floors; the first for administration and research purposes, while the other is for rehabilitation and documentation works.
The library is a charity organization established by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz when he was the Crown Prince in 1988. The Library serves males and females of all ages. It is provided with halls for reading, audio and visual materials, manuscripts and distinguished collections.
Next to the Library, a fully equipped GOO-seat auditorium that hosts symposiums and conferences.
Al-Murabba’ Palace is the most historically important building in the Center. Late King Abdulaziz has ordered, in 1357H, the construction of a complex of palaces outside Riyadh at Al-Murabba’ land to become his family’s residential palace. The complex consisted of residential palaces, service buildings and the Diwan of King Abdulaziz.
The land of AI Murabba’ Palace itself has a historical significance. The complex comprised the famous King Abdulaziz Diwan, King Abdulaziz Palace (Currently Al-Darah) a number of buildings and archeological sites.
The RCRC has cared for repairing these sites in accordance with the internationally recognized standards.
The Red Palace falls to the south of King Abdulaziz Historical Center. This palace was built by King Abdulaziz, may Allah have mercy upon him, and granted it to his son, King Saud, may Allah have mercy upon him, in 1984. It is distinguished with its different style and reddish color.
The mosque is situated in the western side of the main Maydan south of Al-Murabba’ Palace and opposite to King Abdulaziz Road from the north direction. The Mosque can accommodate 4,200 worshippers. Traditionally, the Mosque was part of the AI Murabba’ complex of palaces, and was connected to the second floor of King Abdulaziz Diwan through a bridge.
Royal Commission for Riyadh City built al-Midi Mosque at the heart of Riyadh in the eastern part of King Abdulaziz Historical Center in al-Murabba neighborhood along King Faisal Road. It is located on the site of the old mosque that dates back to 1943 (1362H). It was called al-Midi because it was built on the site of a group of water wells known by the same name.
Late King Abdulaziz ordered the wells to be drilled to supply the population of Riyadh and the nearby al-Murabba Palace complex with water. There was no drinking water supply network in Riyadh at that time and thus the site of al-Midi became renowned for the charitable provision and supply of water to the community. As part of its program to develop the historical city center, the RCRC rebuilt the mosque using pressurized mud bricks on the site of the old mosque after expanding the site area. Its design matches that of other buildings and installations in the area. It maintains all the traditional elements of the design and architecture of the old mosque.
The new al-Midi Mosque accommodates 500 worshippers and reflects all the traditional aspects of architecture. These start with its outside features, which are rendered with mud, and continue with the distinctive style of the building, which does not use concrete columns. The weight of the structure is carried on traditional columns, wood and domes. This made the building distinguished from the modern mosques in the city. The architectural style introduced in this project by the RCRC is environmentally sustainable and saves energy.
Located southeast of the Public Park, the Tower, built in 1391H, boosts water pressure in the public water network. The capacity of the Tower’s two tanks is 12,350 m³. The Al Watan Park (operated by an investor) is built around the ‘Water Tower’, and its visitors can get to its top to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the city.
King Abdulaziz Historical Center won a number of international, regional and local awards given its importance and role as the living cultural heart of Riyadh city.
The King Abdulaziz Historical Center received this award during the celebration of the Arab city and its architectural projects. The jury of the Award chose the Center under the theme of the role of the Arab city in preserving heritage. The Center was selected as a winner out of 182 projects representing 12 Arab nations competing for the Award.
King Abdulaziz Historical Center received this award because it was built on a historic site that was the axis of Riyadh’s development and the base for modern Saudi Arabia and also because it focused on underlining the Kingdom’s status and position as being the Cradle of Islam. The jury of the Award expressed appreciation for the concept of the project, its successful embodiment of the Kingdom›s Centennial Anniversary into a modern project as well as the heritage reflected in the center›s national and cultural facilities. The jury also recognized the high standards of heritage architecture in the Center›s open spaces and historical installations.
The Award recognized the Center as successfully realizing the principle of preserving heritage. The Award provides effective recognition of the role and contribution of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City to protection and management of heritage for future generations.
Al-Midi Mosque was one of the first architectural installations in the Kingdom in which simple and traditional building technologies were used by making use of locally available building materials. After economic feasibility studies and tests with locally sourced materials, the use of pressurized mud bricks was decided upon
This Award was given to al-Midi Mosque because the project successfully reflects and draws inspiration from architectural heritage in both design and the overall coordination of the site. The Award also acknowledges the utilization of local natural materials in addition to the incorporation of advanced design concepts which have a profound impact on the architectural and social surroundings.