Historic Riyadh

 

Murabba Palace Historical Centre

For a wealth of information on the founder of Sa’udi Arabia you cannot do better than to visit the King Abdul Aziz Memorial Hall, which is located within the Murabba Palace Historical Centre park.

This 7,000 square-metre building contains loads of memorabilia and photographs of Abdul Aziz’s meetings with statesmen from around the world.

You can see many of his personal belongings, including some of his clothing, jewellery, swords, medical supplies – even his spectacles.

And if that’s not enough to whet your appetite, then how about the original Rolls Royce presented to the King by Winston Churchill in 1946? This car is in top notch condition and if you ask the assistant, you may well be allowed to step inside this rarest of ‘Rollers’ and admire the craftsmanship of the interior.

There is also a written and photographic archive centre, together with many hours-worth of historical recordings that relate to the founding of the kingdom.

Connected to the King Abdul Aziz Memorial Hall via an enclosed second-floor walkway, and located opposite the National Musuem, is the Murabba Palace where King Abdul Aziz moved his court in the 1930s from the Mismak Fort.

Lovingly restored to its former glory, this two-storey palace contains many artefacts and photos showing the King at work. The restoration included the use of traditional sun-dried bricks made of mud, straw and water and tamarisk wood was used for the supports.

There is a central courtyard around which are situated various store rooms, officers’ quarters, and a reception room. Go upstairs and you’ll find the king’s royal office, and his two formal majlis (meeting rooms) – one for winter and one for summer – as well as public waiting rooms. Three lanterns were used to light the king’s private office before the coming of electricity. The Political Affairs Office handled the kingdom’s foreign relations and domestic affairs. On many of the archways you’ll see verses from the Qur’an .

Ask to see the King’s personal lift, the first elevator to be installed in the kingdom and which was installed 10 years after he moved in as his arthritis made it increasingly difficult for him to climb the stairs.

Next to the Palace is the King Abdul Aziz mosque which is able to accommodate 4,200 worshippers and is packed out on Fridays.

At the southern end of the park you will find a pink palace called Al Hamra, which was built for Crown Prince Sa’ud – who became king in 1953 after his father’s death.

Sa’ud’s tenure of Al Hamra was for only a short time as he moved to his rebuilt palace at Nasriyah soon after, and Al Hamra later became the chambers of the kingdom’s first Council of Ministers. It has been used for government offices since 1956.

Across the way from Al Hamra is the King Abdul Aziz Library which has a periodicals room, a research section and separate reading rooms for men and women. There is an internet section, and a room featuring interactive technologies and multimedia.

Adjacent to the library is a 600-seat auditorium which is used to host symposia and conferences.

Entrance: 24o 38.8’ N; 46o 42.6’ E

Admission Fee is SR15 for both the Palace and the Memorial Hall (children SR10) and they are open every day except Saturdays from 9am till 12 noon and from 4.30pm till 10pm:
Men only on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings and Tuesday evenings.
Women and families on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings only.

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