Al-Diriyah (Arabic: الدرعية; also spelled Ad-Dir'iyah, Ad-Dar'iyah or Dir'aiyah) is a town in Saudi Arabia located on the northwestern outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Diriyah was the original home of the Saudi royal family, and served as the capital of the first Saudi dynasty from 1744 to 1818. Today, the town is the seat of the Diriyah Governorate, which also includes the villages of Uyayna, Jubayla, and Al-Ammariyyah, among others, and is part of Ar Riyad Province. The Turaif district in Diriyah was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
The ruins of the old city of Diriyah lay on either side of the narrow valley known as Wadi Hanifa, which continues southwards through Riyadh and beyond. Consisting almost entirely of mud-brick structures, the ruins are divided into three districts, Ghussaibah, Al-Mulaybeed, and Turaif, set on top of hills overlooking the valley. Of the three, Turaif is the highest, and its bottom is easily accessible to tourists by foot. Part of the city wall, running along the edges of the wadi and also made of mud-bricks, are still extant along with some short observation towers. The modern city is built at a lower altitude at the foot of the hill upon which Turaif is located. To the north of the town, inside the valley, are a number of gardens, palm groves, and small farms and estates. A dam known as Al-Ilb lies further north.
Renovations and development plans :
Among the rebuilt structures are the Bath and guest house, the Qasr Nasr, the Saad bin Saud Palace (finished by the early 90s), the Burj Faysal (a wall tower renovated in the 80s), major sections of the wall surrounding Turaif and sections of the outer walls and some watch towers surrounding the wadi. Outside of the Turaif district, on the opposite side of the wadi Hanifa, the region of the mosque of Sheik Mohammad bin Abdulwahab has been completely remodelled, leaving only some of the more recent original structures standing to the north of the complexe build on the site of the historic mosque.
The "Turief District Development Plan" aims to turn the district into a major national, cultural and touristic center. Before turning the complete site into a modern open air museum documentation and necessary investigations, including excavations especially in places that may need to be remodelled, are planned in three major phases. These wil include sites such as:
- Al-Imam Mohammad bin Saud Mosque and Salwa Palace.
- Ibraheem Ibn Saud Palace and Fahad Ibn Saud Palace.
- Farhan Ibn Saud Palace, Torki Ibn Saud Palace and Qoo'a Al-Sharia'a (eastern court of Salwa Palace)
Once finished, there will be a new visitors center as well as a documentation center. Four new museums are planned for the district.
- A museum of war and defense (as this was the site of a major siege in Saudi Arabia).
- A museum of horses.
- A museum of social life.
- A museum of commerce and finance.
- Additionally a Turief traditional market will add to the open air museum experience.