WIT Press

The Old City Of Jeddah: From A Walled City To A Heritage Site


Free (open access)





Page Range

365 - 374




1600 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


M. Bagader


Jeddah, Jiddah, Jadda or Juddah, also known as the bride of the Red Sea, the port of the two holy cities, the gateway to the city of Makkah and main seaport of contemporary Saudi Arabia, is located on the coast of the Red Sea. Its historic core, known as al-Balad district, is the historic quarter of the city that has been preserved since the city was established in 646 AD. The historical values of old Jeddah date back to 250 BC, but the interesting thing about the history of the city is that it developed in both the pre-Islamic and the Islamic eras. However, at the beginning of the 16th century the city was attacked by Portuguese troops several times and by some Bedouins, who destroyed most of the city. As a response to these threats the Mamluk Sultan Al-Ghori ordered to build a fortified wall surroundings the city to protect it in 1509. This wall was the first documented attempt to protect the city since its establishment. Many experts believe that the city wall was the reason for the existence of the historic district “al-Balad” until the present. Nowadays, Jeddah’s historic core is acting as a catalyst for different types of built heritage conservation discourses in Saudi Arabia by different stakeholders by trying to inscribe the site as world heritage site at UNESCO. Therefore, how the city wall was the corner stone of preservation the city legacy “heritage”? And why the old city of Jeddah became a historic site candidate to be a world heritage site at UNESCO? In terms of achieving the paper aims, the author will consult the Saudi available literature in the field, official reports and the author will conduct surveys and observations to the old city of Jeddah.


Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, heritage, walled cities, preservation, historic quarters