You are here

Biblical Archaeology Review 49:2, Summer 2023

World Wonders: Madain Saleh

The site of Madain Saleh, located in northwestern Saudi Arabia, preserves the remains of the ancient city of Hegra. The city flourished during the first century CE as an important stop on the Nabatean-controlled incense route that connected South Arabia and the Red Sea to the Mediterranean and Roman worlds. At the height of Nabatean power, Hegra held nearly the same political and economic significance as Petra, the kingdom’s capital, located 300 miles to the north in modern-day Jordan.

Like Petra, Madain Saleh is remarkable for its awe-inspiring rock-cut architecture. Pictured here is Qasr al-Farid (Arabic for “Lonely Castle”), which is the largest of the site’s more than 100 rock-cut tombs. Carved into an isolated sandstone outcrop, Qasr al-Farid stands roughly four stories tall but was actually never completed. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, Madain Saleh is one of Saudi Arabia’s leading tourist destinations.

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.