Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, boasts a uniquely beautiful mix of architectural styles. While the city is a modern metropolis, complete with towering skyscrapers and a 99-story-high sky bridge, you’ll also find the 150-year-old Al Masmak Fortress in the heart of the old quarter.
A vast clay and mud-brick citadel that witnessed the birth of a kingdom, Al Masmak — the word means a high, strong and thick building — serves as a proud reminder of Saudi Arabia’s storied history. In 1902, King Abdulaziz captured the fortress and took control of Riyadh (his ancestral home) after having lived in exile in Kuwait. From this fortress, Abdulaziz Al Saud conquered and united the different kingdoms and provinces that make up the Saudi nation as we know it today.
Built in 1865, the fortress has served many purposes. Although originally used to house the garrisons who protected the city, it later was an ammunition warehouse after the raid by King Abdulaziz and, later still, a prison.