Al Ula Old Town, also known as Deira, is an archaeological site near Al Ula in Madina Province, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the main attractions in Al-Ula as it consists of many ancient heritage buildings, mosques, and markets. All these ruins date back about seven centuries, according to historians, and the town was inhabited up until the early 1980s. The village is home to more than 900 traditional mud-brick buildings, 100 of which have already been restored with traditional building methods.
Al Ula Old Town is best known for its mud-brick buildings and being an age-old settlement on the pilgrimage route from Damascus to Makkah
In the 12th century, Al Ula Old Town became an essential settlement along the pilgrimage route from Damascus to Makkah. The city gradually replaced Qurh, to the south of Al Ula, and is favorably mentioned by travelers from the 12th to the 20th centuries, when modern Al Ula was constructed nearby. The houses were designed to be attached to one another, providing fortification, which hints at defense being a priority for the city’s early inhabitants. At one point, the city was accessed by 14 gates, which were opened in the morning to welcome travelers, pilgrims, and other visitors, and closed each evening. The ancient city’s recent occupation has enabled researchers to begin to gather oral histories, painting a picture of what life was like inside its walls.
With its labyrinth of tightly packed streets, hundreds of mudbrick buildings, and a colossal watchtower fort, Old Town is one of Northwest Arabia’s most impressive heritage sites
Al Ula Old Town was inhabited from the 12th century until the 1980s when its last residents left the ancient village for more modern locales. Uninhabited for more than 40 years, the town was closed completely in 2017 by the Royal Commission for Al Ula. It has now reopened as a year-round tourism site, with restored streets, buildings, and attractions, and free entry for visitors. With nearly 900 houses, 400 shops, and five town squares, the Old Town is once again welcoming travelers.