Syrian Hajj Road

Photo by Jarek Pokrzywnicki.

Syrian Hajj Road is part of the Tentative list of Saudi Arabia in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

The Syrian Hajj Road is the oldest transboundary Islamic pilgrimage route to Makkah. It leads from Damascus across the Arabian desert and unites believers from different regions and ethnic groups. Along the way there are water management systems, inscriptions, camps and palaces.

Map of Syrian Hajj Road

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

Community Reviews

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Els Slots

The Netherlands - 19-Nov-23 -

Syrian Hajj Road (T) by Els Slots

A short update on one of the components, AlUla Old Town. It is now open to visitors although (re)construction works are still going on at the lower parts and men in yellow vests and hard hats are a common sight. These troops of Pakistani migrant workers really know their way with adobe!

The upper road (“Market Street”) has been turned into a wide shopping and entertainment street with restaurant terraces and live music. There are also a few information panels that hint at the former importance of the town, which was at a strategic position on trade and Hajj routes from the 12th to the 20th centuries. For the pilgrims, this may just have been a resting place – I did not notice any sites of specific religious importance.

A structure that stands out is the small stone castle that towers above the town. It is said to have 10th-century origins. Like the town that was considered a safe place to spend the night (the city gates were closed during the night), it provided a secure place for example for storing goods.

Martina Rúčková

Slovakia - 30-Dec-22 -

Syrian Hajj Road (T) by Martina Ruckova

Syrian Hajj road is another of the long-winded multi-site serial nomination to be inscribed, along with Dar Zubaydah (Saudi-Iraqi road) and Egyptian road. This pilgrimage route connected Mecca and Medina with Syrian capital Damascus and measured 1307 kilometres in length. It was also called Attabukiya. It consists of places of refuge for pilgrims and security posts (forts, castles), markets (pilgrims took different products and wares from their country to trade at these places, changing items of value into local currency to fund their pilgrimage), bridges, canals and water reservoirs. 

We have visited or seen three different components of this proposed site. The best and most convenient visit is definitely the Al Siker Fortress in Tabuk, also called Tabuk Castle (it's actually quite close to the Tabuk Hejaz Railway station). Although legends say that a castle stood on the site for several millennia BC, it is of Ottoman origin, dating from 1559. Its purpose was to protect a nearby reservoir and provide accommodation for pilgrims. The fortress has two floors around the perimeter of which are rooms now used as a museum, a mosque and a courtyard. The museum houses historical artefacts and many infopanels providing information about the Syrian pilgrimage route as well as the most famous historical figures who walked it (Ibn Battuta, Evliya Celebi). There are parking spots at the beginning of the pedestrian section the fort is located at. Information is provided in English on the infoboards, which is appreciated.

Moving on to AlUla from Tabuk, we saw the Al Mua'azam Fort along the way. It's difficult to miss, you can have a stop and take some pictures. Fenced as everything else, I believe you can just drive off the road towards it and there should be a gate in the fence - at least that was our experience with other Saudi places of interest. However, we skipped this one.

Finally, we saw the component of AlUla Old Town (or Traditional Town), an old neighbourhood with mud houses. It's located on right-hand side as you drive towards AlUla from Hegra direction and we passed it couple of times. Unfortunately, it was plagued with Saudi enthusiastic reconstruction so intense, the traffic was redirected from that section of ring road because of it. Hopefully it would make for a more satisfying visit in the future.

Overall, I'd say it was more interesting for us than Dar Zubaydah, but alas, still kind of dispersed everywhere with sites under construction. I would definitely recommend visiting the Tabuk Castle as it gives the most information and best context for your visit of this site.

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Full Name
Syrian Hajj Road
Saudi Arabia
Religious structure - Islamic
2015 Revision

Egyptian/Syrian Hajj Roads TWHS are both reduced versions of a combined nomination Al-Ma'diyah and Al-Shamiyah pilgrimage routes (1988).

2015 Added to Tentative List

Unesco Website: Syrian Hajj Road

The site has 11 locations

Syrian Hajj Road: That Hajj Fort (T)
Syrian Hajj Road: Ain Siker Fort (Tabuk) (T)
Syrian Hajj Road: Al-Mua?azam Fort and Pool (T)
Syrian Hajj Road: Al-Buraika Fort and Pool (T)
Syrian Hajj Road: Islamic Fort in Al-Hijr (T)
Syrian Hajj Road: Traditional Town in Al-Ula (T)
Syrian Hajj Road: Zumurrud Fort and Pool (T)
Syrian Hajj Road: Assoura Fort (T)
Syrian Hajj Road: Hadiyyah Fort (T)
Syrian Hajj Road: Jadda?a Fort (T)
Syrian Hajj Road: Al-Hafeera Fort (T)
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