The historic mudbrick city borders the Prince’s organic farm on three sides and forms a romantic and moody backdrop against the stark outlines of the desert. Its ruined and rebuilt structures occupy every visual frame on the farm and charge each with depth and history.
Diriyah, outside of Riyadh, in the Wadi Hanifah, was originally settled by Maan’ al-Muraidi and his people from the gulf coast in 1446. It and another area in the Wadi Hanifah flourished as a farming settlement and became a major influence on the region. In 1803 Abdul Aziz was assassinated in a Mosque in Diriyah, and his son Saud became his successor, marking the origins of the Al Saud clan who form the royal family of Saudi Arabia. It was during this time that Diriyah reached its peak. In 1818 the Egyptians, working with the Ottomans, under the control of Ibrahim Pashsa, were given specific orders to take Diriyah. In 1819 he sacked and burned the city and cut down all its date palms, besides taking members of the House of Saud into exile. Later that year, the city was partially rebuilt, only to fall again in 1821 by Egypt and the Ottomans. Most of the city was not rebuilt fater this time and only a few families lived there The Saudi Ministry of Archaeology has been engaged in extensive renovations, conservation and development of the site, including construction of a new museum and interpretive center, and extensive walking paths through the site.