We went to Masmuk Fort a couple of weekends ago. Al Masmuk is a historical landmark standing smack dab in the middle of modern day Riyadh. Some people say the structure is a castle, not a fort. The words could be used interchangeably, but I think I’ll stick with fort. After all it was built around 1865 by the then ruler Mohammed ibn Abdullah ibn Rasheed after he had battled to win the area over from the rival Al Saud clan.
I’m guessing he was expecting retaliation, which he got some years later, hence the reason for the four watch towers on each corner and the cannon on display in the water well courtyard. And my sources (an internet surf) tell me that Masmak means strong, thick and fortified – sounds like a fort description to me!
We went early on a Thursday morning and were greeted at the door by a young Saudi man who showed us directly to the movie viewing room as a short movie on the Fort’s history was about to start.
Having read a little of the history already I knew what information to expect. The Husband, who has been here longer than me, reads very little outside of work and obviously doesn’t listen when I impart little gems of information, found the whole movie quite informative.
After the movie we back tracked to the front door so we could wander through more slowly and look at what there was to see.
The revamp of Masmuk isn’t finished yet as far as displays are concerned, but what is there is fairly interesting. There is a photographic display of the area around Masmuk from past till present, which I particularly enjoyed because it compares life then with now.
The Fort is also surprisingly roomy with lots of indoor-outdoorness. To get around you just follow the arrows.
I love how Saudi’s used to construct their homes so took pictures of the wooden ceilings and doors, ladders up to the second floor and air and light ventilation. Of course, having undergone a recent upgrade for tourism purposes, there is also electric lighting, air conditioners and even electronic sliding doors.
There’s a surprising number or courtyards in the Fort and we took time out to have a seat in one as Hubster contemplated water collection and I contemplated what it must have been like living here.
People who had stopped to read the notice inside the main door (which we didn’t read till we were on the way out), were taking pictures of themselves in front of said door and the spear head lodged within it. I took pictures of the notice – it’s got Arabic writing and I can use the picture to practice my translation.
That was my theory anyway. Have I done it yet? Ummmmmm
We enjoyed our wander through the fort and would recommend a visit if you’re looking for something quiet and relaxing to do in Riyadh one morning, just prior to shopping at Diirah, or if you’re feeling curious, taking a stroll through Justice Square (otherwise known as Chop Chop though officially called Al Safa Sqaure) both of which are a stones throw away from Masmuk Fort.
Map for Masmak Fort