• Nepal!

    Nepal: Phewa Lake. Go Now!

    This landlocked country mixes the cultures of the Indian sub-continent with the high Himalayas. Explore Nepal!

  • Japan!

    Japan: Traditional foods. Go Now!

    Japan has a rich culture that is visible today in the country's dress, architecture, language, food (pictured), and lifestyle. Begin Your Journey!

  • Bahrain!

    Bahrain: Desert. Go Now!

    This tiny country has overcome the desert and has found a way to thrive, like this tree on al Jazair Beach. Explore Bahrain!

  • Laos!

    Laos: Karst peak. Go Now!

    The simplicity and natural beauty of the countryside make Laos a hidden gem in Southeast Asia overlooked by most travelers. Begin Your Journey!

  • Tajikistan!

    Tajikistan: A yurt in the mountains. Go Now!

    The high mountains have mysteries around every turn, including yurts (pictured), a home for the nomadic people. Go Now!

Architecture of Saudi Arabia

WARNING: Terrorist threats linger in Saudi Arabia, please read this travel warning before going!

Saudi architecture has few early standing pieces, but much was constructed prior to the 600s. During this time most structures were houses built with local materials, including limestone, clay, and coral, depending on the region. None of these early buildings have lasted though.

After the introduction of Islam in the 600s this began to change. As the home to Islam some of the world's most impressive and meaningful mosques have been built in the country, most particularly in Mecca and Medina.

The growth of Islamic architecture in today's Saudi Arabia began in substantial numbers in the early 700s under the Umayyad rulers and the buildings of a mosque in Medina. Although this mosque is no longer standing, it greatly influenced later mosques as it was made in the "hypostyle," which consists of numerous columns holding up a large roof. It was also one of the first mosques to have a mihrab, which is now found in every mosque.

From this point until the modern day, Saudi Arabia hasn't had much of a unified architectural movement and oddly the region generally fell under foreign rule, meaning there were few monumental structures built on the land.

From the 700s until the 1900s architectural variation occurred primarily in the structure being built and the region. Mosques and houses were the most common constructions as mosques were built in the same style they were in the 600s and continue to be today. However the materials used were generally quite varied, as the traditional materials of clay, coral, and limestone were used.

In the 1900s the country was unified and began to gain great wealth with the discovery of oil. This led to modern buildings, which are much easier to build than historic constructions due to the materials and machines created by the Industrial Revolution, including concrete, steel, and cranes. There are numerous modern buildings in the country, most particularly in the capital city of Riyadh. Oddly, one of the most striking and impressive buildings in the country today is Riyadh's International Airport.

This page was last updated: July, 2012