Sometimes I can’t believe that I live in this amazing place. There is so much history to Jeddah and when you ask the people who grew up here they just shrug and think I’m crazy for thinking it’s so cool.
Just like we don’t look twice at the black squirrels that live in Toronto, these people don’t see their history like I do – probably because they are a part of it. Take Old Jeddah for example.
Situated in the city of Jeddah, the locals call the area Al-Balad which translates into “The City.”
|A street in Al-Balad, Saudi Arabia|
Yes, it looks old in the photos and that’s because it is old.
Al-Balad was founded in the 7th century and used to have walls around it to protect it. The walls were torn down in the 1940s, but many of the original buildings and streets remain.
|The Al Shafei Mosque in Al-Balad|
The Al Shafei mosque also still exists. Built in the 7th century, it’s currently undergoing a major restoration as over the centuries, it sunk into the ground.
|Fresh meat shop in Al-Balad|
A lot of the shops in the area have been around for years and locals still go to the souk there for fabrics, fresh meat, dates and nuts and of course, frankincense, which was a big Saudi export before the oil boom.
One of the most surprising things was that some of them didn't lock up during prayer time. They simply hung a sheet across the doorway (see below) and trusted no one would come in and steal anything. Now that's something you wouldn't do in the US!
|Shop closing up for prayer time|
You’ll also see lattices in the windows. These are used to catch the wind and create a breeze to cool down the homes. It’s surprising how well this worked.
The entire Al Balad Historical District is 1.5 square kilometers. It was added as a UNESCO World Heritage site in June, 2014.
|Ignore my hair. The intense heat and humidity makes it completely unmanageable.|