Madain Saleh, which is similar to its counterpart Petra in Jordan, is an impressive desert cemetery inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The city of Petra, carved into sandstone in Jordan, is widely recognized as the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom, an ancient Arab civilization that flourished in northern Arabia and the southern Levant between about 312 BC and 106 AD.
But a few hundred kilometers south, and a three to four hour drive from Medina, Saudi Arabia, lie the remains of a mysterious settlement that was once a powerful center of their great civilization.
Even the archaeological excavations of the past few decades, little was known about the ancient culture of Saudi Arabia, which left behind huge rock features in the vast desert.
Mada’in Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage site and sometimes called the City of Hajar, was a major center for the Nabataeans along an ancient trade route linking Persia to the east with the Mediterranean region to the west.
The surrounding Al-Ula region is a stunning sand-blasted landscape made up of ancient ruins and graves that are thousands of years old, many of which are still well preserved to this day.
Mada’in Saleh was inhabited since the 1st century BC, and was a bustling center for the trade of incense and spices until the Roman conquest in the 1st century AD.
The site consists of more than 100 huge tombs carved into the rock, a reflection of the artistic ingenuity of the Nabataeans.
The unique palace is one of the most magnificent and luxurious monuments, and it is believed that the stairs at its summit support the passage of the soul to the sky.
Greco-Roman, Assyrian and Egyptian architectural influences, such as eagles, sphinxes, triangles and columns, can be seen throughout the sandstone tombs.
This site dating back more than a thousand years has been well preserved for centuries, largely due to the arid and arid climate of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi government is making a lot of investments in the surrounding Al-Ula region to attract tourists.
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