PHOTOS: A giant rock in Saudi Arabia turned into a unique engraved palace

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This unique palace, the most famous of the stone façades of Al-Ula, in Madayin Saleh, is actually called the "Al-Farid" meaning (The unique one).

It is truly unique compared to the rest of the palaces carved in the surrounding mountains.

It is sculpted on an independent rock mass, unlike the others in Madayin Saleh.


The palace has a very large façade, which contains inscriptions, carved with high precision. It is a different façade, distinct from 153 other rocky façades that are located in Madayin Saleh, formerly known as the Stone City.

The palace contains a number of columns at the entrance, and it also has high-resolution drawings.

The palace has raised a debate among archaeologists, some who say it goes back to the times of the Sumadians, while others believe that the Nabateans made it.


Professor Ahmed Al-Abboudi, associate professor at the Saudi Faculty of Tourism and Antiquities, said that the unique palace, like the rest of the palaces, which were carved in the stone, wasn’t a burial place as some thought.

The idea of the site being a cemetery is not consistent with the studies made about its history, he added.

He pointed out that the Thamudians are those who occupied those sites, and later were exploited by the Nabataeans who followed them. All civilizations take advantage of such locations.

Al-Abboudi said that the debate is still going on about who inhabited these sites and who created them, but there is not enough proof of who were the builders.


Al-Abboudi said those who think the unique palace is a graveyard because of some writings used by the Nabataeans, doesn’t make sense with regard to the name of the palace.

The other views that consider Al-Farid a courtyard makes it contradictory to considering the site a cemetery.

Al-Abboudi said that he believes the correct hypothesis is that the stones of Madayin Saleh belong to the site of the Thamodians, who carved houses in the mountains, as described in the Quran and the Prophetic Hadiths.

The Nabateans were nomads, as described by Alexander the Macedonian and their civilization, succeeded them taking over the location and turning it into a cemetery.


Based on that it is not reasonable to attribute them to the Nabataeans, whose history is a closer to the Thamodian era.

The unique palace is marked by this giant sandstone that was and remains the focus of visitors and lovers of these kinds of relics.


An architectural masterpiece

Photographer Madany Cindy pointed out that he managed to capture the unique palace from different angles, highlighting its magnificence and its beautiful facades, which have attracted the attention of photographers and visitors to the site.

He pointed out that thousands of images on the web show this unique architectural masterpiece through the lenses of Saudi photographers and foreigners.

No one can visit Madayin Saleh without taking splendid photos of “Al-Farid” palace, he said.

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