Destination Red Sea
Aramcon Travel: Architecture brings Jiddah to life
The architecture in historical Jiddah is known for its distinctive feature of multiple floor bright buildings with handmade and carved wooden rawashin.
It is no surprise that UNESCO added historical Jiddah to its World Heritage Sites in 2014. According to UNESCO, the area was cited as “an outstanding reflection of the Red Sea architectural tradition.” Founded in the 7th century on a beautiful costal land, historical Jiddah gathered people from all cultures from all around the world throughout the ages as it had a symbolic role as a gate to Makkah for Muslim pilgrims.
This part of the world unveils a human heritage whose walls challenged different historical factors with their historical stories. Nowadays, historic Jiddah is mainly known for its heritage architecture.
The architecture in historical Jiddah is known for its distinctive feature of multiple floor bright buildings with handmade and carved wooden rawashin, the plural of roshan, which originated from a Persian word meaning “an elevated window which lets in plenty of light.” These windows allow tons of light inside without increasing the indoor temperature because of the insulation of the wood material.
Some rawashin on the buildings are in their natural wooden color, while others are painted in a bright teal color. These houses were built between the 16th and the early 20th centuries.
One of the most famous landmarks in historical Jiddah is the Al-Nassif House. It was built in the late 18th century by Omar Nassif Efendi, a member of a wealthy merchant family who was also the governor of Jiddah at that time. Later on, in 1925, the house became a royal residence as it was used by King Abdulaziz Al-Saud. The whole building was later completely renovated and is currently a museum and art gallery.
Having more than 600 heritage buildings in historical Jiddah means having a lot of narrowed alleys. These alleys sparkle at night, as they are always decorated with colorful bright lights to light up the town.
Walking around historical Jiddah, you would find a lot of locals wearing the hijazi ommah (Turban-like head wrap). The ommah is steeped in tradition with deep cultural roots tracing back to their ancestors worn by different groups to make up a community.
The gallery shop is a known art gallery in the area, containing unique art pieces and selections for sale and display. The artwork tells the story of the past with all its heritage and Islamic patterns, using the brush of the present by adding some modernity to it.