Rewind: exploring Mada’in Saleh


Written by Valentina Romano

Mada’in Saleh—also known as Al-Hijr or Hegra—is a pre-Islamic archaeological site situated in Saudi Arabia.


This place is considered to be the largest Arab Kingdom’s settlement after Petra in Jordan, and it can be dated back to the 1st century AD.


This site has been under UNESCO since 2008, as part of the world heritage sites’ list.

Mada’in Saleh is located 400 km northwest of Medina, and 500 km southeast of Petra, Jordan, and it is reachable by car from both these cities. The surrounding landscape features desert plains, which are alternated every now and then with sandstone outcrops.


Around the 1st century AC an Arab nomad population called the Nabataeans settled in Mada’in Saleh, making it the kingdom’s second capital after Petra. Little by little the place started to look more like a city and as it grew bigger in population, the Nabataeans carved in the stone tuning a simple rock into a wonderful and fascinating architectural construction.


In 106 AC, the Nabatean Kingdom collapsed under the Roman Empire, and Mada’in Saleh became part of the Roman province of Arabia.

The sandstone outcropping was carved out to build the necropolis of Mada’in Saleh. The reason why the Nabateans decided to make Mada’in Saleh their second capital city is because the outcrops composing the site were all positioned around a residential area and its oasis.


If you pay attention to the detailed inscriptions carved in the stone and to the structure, you will realise that Mada’in Saleh was designed and built following the same architectural characteristics of Petra.

The Queen, Jebel Umm Sammnon, Jubbah, Saudi Arabia


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This wonderful archaeological site is incredibly fascinating as it is a concrete proof of the grandeur of the Nabatean Kingdom, which used to rule the whole of the Arabian Peninsula back in the 1st Century AD.

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The beautiful architectural features, which were so carefully carved in the sandstone, the deserted landscape surrounding this ancient city and the quiet and peaceful atmosphere framing the site will bring you back in time to when civilization did not have access to technology and nature was the only form of entertainment.

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(All the photos are taken from, and all belong to their original owners)

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