Dulcie Medrano

Dulcie Medrano

Published: 20 Sep 2023

Source: Nationalgeographic.com

Hegra, also known as Al-Hijr or Mada’in Salih, is a fascinating archaeological site located in the northwestern part of Saudi Arabia. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra holds immense historical and cultural significance as one of the most well-preserved Nabatean cities. With its stunning rock-cut tombs, elaborate carvings, and ancient ruins, Hegra offers a mesmerizing journey back in time to the pre-Islamic era.

In this article, we will delve into some captivating facts about Hegra, shedding light on its rich heritage and unique features. From its strategic location on the Incense Route to its intricate architectural designs, Hegra has much to offer in terms of unraveling the mysteries of the ancient Nabatean civilization. So, get ready to explore this remarkable landmark and discover the secrets hidden within its ancient stones.

Table of Contents

Hegra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hegra, also known as Madain Salih, is an ancient city located in Saudi Arabia. In 2008, it was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it an important cultural and historical landmark.

Hegra was the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom.

Dating back to the 1st century BCE, Hegra served as the second capital of the Nabatean Kingdom, after Petra in Jordan. The city was a major center of trade and commerce along the Incense Route.

There are over 100 tombs carved into the rock at Hegra.

One of the most remarkable features of Hegra is its collection of rock-cut tombs. Visitors can explore more than 100 tombs, each intricately carved into the sandstone cliffs, showcasing the skilled craftsmanship of the Nabateans.

The tombs at Hegra are adorned with stunning facades.

The facades of the tombs at Hegra are decorated with intricate carvings and elaborate patterns. These facades showcase the artistic and architectural brilliance of the Nabateans, featuring elements of Hellenistic, Roman, and Arabian styles.

Hegra is home to the largest preserved Nabatean inscription.

Within the ancient city, you can find the largest preserved Nabatean inscription, known as the “Dedanite Inscription.” This monumental inscription provides valuable insights into the history and culture of the Nabateans.

The Lion Tombs are a prominent attraction at Hegra.

Among the many tombs at Hegra, the Lion Tombs stand out for their unique architectural design. These tombs feature statues of lions guarding the entrances, symbolizing strength and protection.

Hegra has a well-preserved ancient water management system.

A remarkable aspect of Hegra is its sophisticated water management system. The city had reservoirs, wells, and underground channels that ensured a reliable water supply for its inhabitants.

Several ancient inscriptions can be found throughout Hegra.

Exploring Hegra, visitors will encounter numerous inscriptions carved into the rock surfaces. These inscriptions come in various languages, including Nabatean, Ancient Arabic, and Greek, offering valuable insights into the multicultural history of the region.

Hegra played a significant role in the spice trade.

As a major hub along the Incense Route, Hegra was an important center for the trade of valuable spices and incense. The city’s strategic location made it an essential stop for merchants traveling between the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, and the Mediterranean region.

It is believed that Hegra was inhabited for over 2,000 years.

Hegra has a rich history that spans over two millennia. The city flourished as a major Nabatean settlement from the 1st century BCE until the decline of the Nabatean Kingdom in the 2nd century CE.

Hegra showcases a blend of architectural styles.

The architecture of Hegra reflects the cultural influences of different civilizations that inhabited the region. You can find a mix of Nabatean, Roman, and Hellenistic architectural elements in the structures and tombs throughout the city.

Hegra was rediscovered in the 19th century.

Although Hegra was known to local Bedouin communities, it gained international attention when it was rediscovered by European explorers in the 19th century. Since then, ongoing archaeological excavations have revealed the true extent of its historical significance.

Visitors can experience Hegra through guided tours.

To fully appreciate the wonders of Hegra, guided tours are available for visitors. These tours provide insights into the fascinating history, culture, and architecture of this ancient Nabatean city.

Hegra offers a captivating journey into the past.

Exploring the ancient ruins of Hegra is like stepping back in time. From the monumental tombs to the well-preserved structures, every corner of this UNESCO World Heritage Site tells a captivating story of the once-flourishing Nabatean civilization.


In conclusion, Hegra is a truly captivating destination filled with rich history and breathtaking landmarks. From its ancient tombs to its fascinating rock formations, Hegra offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors. Whether you are an archeology enthusiast or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of ancient architecture, Hegra will surely leave you in awe. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to this hidden jewel of Saudi Arabia, where the past comes to life.


Q: How old are the tombs in Hegra?

A: The tombs in Hegra date back to the 1st century AD, making them over 2,000 years old.

Q: Can visitors explore the inside of the tombs?

A: Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to enter the tombs for preservation purposes. However, you can admire them from the outside and appreciate their intricate carvings and architectural details.

Q: Are there any guided tours available in Hegra?

A: Yes, there are guided tours available in Hegra. Professional guides can provide insights into the history and significance of the landmarks, enhancing your overall experience.

Q: What is the best time to visit Hegra?

A: The best time to visit Hegra is during the cooler months, from October to March. This ensures more comfortable temperatures for exploring the site.

Q: Is there an entrance fee to visit Hegra?

A: Yes, there is an entrance fee to visit Hegra. The fee helps in the conservation and preservation efforts of the site.