RIYADH: The King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives (Darah) has published highlights of Jeddah’s heritage since the pre-Islamic era and the use of the city as a port for Makkah by Caliph Uthman ibn Affan in 647.
Darah documented the era’s buildings, neighborhoods, balconies and windows, found in the architecture of the “Historical Jeddah” area, on its Twitter account.
Those characteristics are still being appreciated, making Jeddah an open museum that was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list in 2014.
While documenting the establishment and unification of the Kingdom, Darah mentioned the arrival of King Abdul Aziz to Jeddah in 1925, where he stayed in the house of Nassif and used a council room and a prayer room next to Al-Hanafi Mosque.
The city became a large one and became the gate of the two holy mosques and the Kingdom’s first port.
Darah highlighted the area’s important heritage and historical sites and buildings such as historical mosques of unique architectural style, in addition to the city’s markets.
Jeddah’s wall was built by Hussein Al-Kurdi, one of the Mamluk princes, during his campaign to fortify the Red Sea against attacks by the Portuguese.
He equipped the wall with fortresses, towers and cannons to stop invading ships and dug a trench around the wall.
Darah noted that the wall, which was built with the help of Jeddah’s residents, had two doors, one from the side of Makkah and the other from the side of the Red Sea. It also had six towers each with 16 branches. Six doors were built — Bab Makkah, Bab Madinah, Bab Sharif, Bab Jadid, Bab Al-Bant and Bab Al-Magharibah — before Bab of Al-Siba was added at the beginning of this century.
The wall was torn down because it merged with the urban area in 1947.
The city was divided into several neighborhoods inside the perimeter of the wall called “Hara.” These were named according to their geographical location inside the city by the events that made them famous: Harat Al-Mazloum, Al-Sham, Al-Yaman, Al-Bahr and Al-Karantina.
The city’s residents built their houses from rocks they extracted from the 40th lake before modifying them by hand to fit according to their sizes next to the wood they brought from neighboring areas such as the Valley of Fatima or imported from other countries, mainly India.
They used the contents from the Sea of Mud to strengthen the structure.
These houses look a lot like modern cement buildings. Some of the famous buildings still found today are the houses of Al-Nassif, of Al-Jamjoum, Al-Baesh, Al-Kabel, Al-Banaja, Al-Azahed and Al-Sharbatli.
Darah also documented the most famous mosques in Jeddah’s historical area such as Al-Shafei Mosque, Uthman ibn Affan Mosque, Al-Basha Mosque, Akkash Mosque, Al-Memar Mosque, Al-Rahma Mosque, King Saud Mosque, Al-Jaffali Moque and Hassan Anani Mosque.
The old neighborhoods still carry a touch of the past and are surrounded by old handicraft and traditional shops. Significant public markets in the historical area include Al-Alawi Market, Kabel Market and Al-Nada Market.
Some of the most important specialized markets in Jeddah’s historical area are the fish market, also known as Al-Banqala, the vegetable and butcher’s market in Al-Nawariyyah at the end of Kabel Street, the large fabric market, Al-Khaskiyah, located behind Sheikh Mohammed Nassif’s house, Al-Nada Market, Al-Jami, named after Al-Shafei Mosque, Al-Hababa Market located in Bab Makkah, Al-Hiraj auction Market in Bab Sharif, Al-Badou (Bedouin) market in Bab Makkah, Al-Aser in Bab Sharif, Al-Baraghiyah, where donkey, mule and horse saddles were made, and Al-Sabhiyah in Al-Khaskiyah where prayer beads were made.
Jeddah was also known for its “Khanat” (“Al-Kaysariyah”) — markets made up of a number of small shops.
Some of the most important “Khanat” of Jeddah’s historical area are Khan Al-Hunud, Khan Al-Kasaba, where fabrics were sold, Khan Al-Dallalin and Khan Al-Attarin.
Jeddah’s traditions and its people still unite loved ones — residents decorate their houses with lights while others chant to welcome visitors.
These traditions represent Jeddah’s beauty on religious occasions such as the holy month of Ramadan, especially in the central historical area.