JEDDAH: The King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives (DARAH) has published a history of Al-Zareeb Castle in Al-Wajh governorate in Tabuk, to mark the visit of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to the region. Located 10 km east of Al-Wajh, surrounded by mountains, the castle was built in 1617 to protect pilgrims and their goods on their way to and from their Hajj journey. It was also used as a resting place for pilgrims traveling to Makkah.
It is well supplied by groundwater and is located 7.5 km from the international coastal route linking Al-Wajh and other coastal areas, such as Yanbuh, Umlaj and Duba.
The castle was built during the era of Sultan Ahmed I of the Ottoman Empire on the route of the Egyptian Hajj, that is to say the pilgrims coming from Egypt and North Africa. It was bombed during the Great Arab Revolt in 1916 and was recently renovated. Castles such as this were built in the form of the mini-city model.
The report said the rectangular castle has a set of towers surrounding the courtyards. The castle also includes a prayer area (musalla) and residential units surrounded by water wells. It is considered one of the most important remaining archaeological sites in the Tabuk region. The castle was built in stone, with an entrance on the eastern side and two ponds for water storage. Al-Zareeb castle marks the importance of castles at that time, aiding pilgrims as they traveled to the holy lands by horse and donkey. Pilgrims needed a place with water to rest and these castles allowed them to store their luggage safely.
In the renovation work, the same types of stone and materials were used to preserve the original appearance of the castle’s exterior.
A cemetery is located to the east of the castle on a hillside. It is believed to contain the tombs of the soldiers who fought to protect the pilgrims’ route.
Al-Wajh city lies on the eastern coast of the Red Sea and is considered an important historical port, given its major role in the stimulation of trade before and after Islam.
The city is full of historical monuments and is mentioned in the books of Arab travelers, historians and even explorers such as Sir Richard Burton.