"When They Carved their Tombs into Mountains..." Top 5 Page for this destination Mada'in Salih by Manyana

Mada'in Salih Travel Guide: 94 reviews and 333 photos


Mada'in Salih is a must-see sightseeing in Saudi Arabia particularly and in the Middle East in general. It used to be an active town where pilgrims used to pass by and have a short stop to continue their long trips.

- Name: Mada'in Salih or Qura Salih or al Hijr as it was mentioned in the Holy Quran 17 times. It was called 'Hijr' because Hijr was a valley located between Medina and Sham where people of Hijr used to inhabit.

- Location: It's 22 km northern east to al-Ula city which acts as the main doorway to Mada'in Salih. Its strategic location gave it a business location that served pilgrims and travelers in the ancient times of the Arabian peninsual. It was an active port between Medina and Sham.

- Religious Backgournd: Muslims believe that Mada'in Salih was inhabited by people of Thamud whose story was mentioned in Quran. They were rich folk who used to show off their talent at architecture. They built their houses encarved into mountains.
Prophet Salih was sent to these people to invite them to worship one God and abandon the sinful life. They mocked his message and asked him to prove his message to be of the Divine. Therefore, Prophet Salih revealed his miracle i.e. a she-camel came out of a solid rock that gave birth to a baby camel later on. After that, people of Thamud killed this camel and her baby camel cried hard and loud that his crying wasn't bearable by people of Thamud. His crying was warning that their doom day would come soon. After three days, a very loud scream killed them all.

- Historical Background: Scientifically, it's unknown when people of Thamud or Prophet Salih lived. That's why, archaelogists suggest that Nabateans used to reside in this area instead of Thamudians. Nabateans invested in this area for its fertility, business doorway and self-defended location. It's surrounded by solid mountains that no enemy can invade without a prior notice. Nabateans occupied the whole area from Mada'in Saleh to Petra. That explains why Petra's architecture looks very similar to Mada'in Salih. Mountains carved archaelogically believed to be tombs and graves. There are 131 tombs found out. Scientists cannot indicate how long these graves have been carved, but for only 32 graves. They go back to 1 BC-75 AD.
In 106 AD, Romans invaded this area and moved business pathway to the Red Sea. Later on, Mada'in Salih lost its business reputation and remained inactive. Years passed until Islam came to rule the Arabian Peninsula, the area re-gained its reputation and became a stop station for pilgrims and merchants and acts as a network between Medina and Mecca.

- Nowadyas, Mada'in Salih is a pure touristic spot. It's a protected area and no one can get in without a permission.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:historically interesting
  • Cons:no residence
  • In a nutshell:a door to a world
  • Last visit to Mada'in Salih: Dec 2004
  • Intro Updated Jun 3, 2005
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