Fort Al Faqir - History and Facts | History Hit

Fort Al Faqir

Al-'Ula, Saudi Arabia

Image Credit: @goufily / Flickr

About Fort Al Faqir

Fort Al Faqir is a historic ruined fort near Al-’Ula, Saudi Arabia. It was built in the 18th century by the Ottoman dynasty to ensure the safety of Levantine pilgrims during their journey to the holy sites. 

History of Fort Al Faqir

The fort was originally referred to in historical documents as the fort of al-Hafa’ir. Standing on a small hilltop in the Southern part of Al-’Ula, the fort lies along what was once known as ‘The Incense Road’, a network of routes that facilitated the trading of spices, silk, and other luxury items through Arabia, Egypt and India.

The fort is square and would originally have had a round tower on each corner. It occupies a space of 340 metres squared with walls of approximately 6 metres high, and is thought to have originally been a two-storey structure supported by wooden beams.

A variety of materials were used during Fort Al Faqir’s construction, such as local limestones and sandstones (also schist and gneiss), in addition to bricks on the upper levels and in different parts of the fort. This traditional style of architecture is fitting when compared with the rest of the ancient walled city of Al-’Ula, which is packed with mud-brick and stone houses.

Fort Al Faqir today

Many of Saudi Arabia’s historic Ottoman sites have been destroyed to make way for modern building developments. A moderate amount of the fort still remains, however, with three of the towers still standing, and only the southernmost tower lying in a pile of rubble. In addition, most of the interior walls, ceilings, and stairs of the Fort Al Faqir have been destroyed, meaning that nothing remains except for the walls and towers and a small amount of interior building.

The fort today is surrounded by a high fence, and is only accessible by car. It appears that the local Al-’Ula government exercises jurisdiction over Fort Al Faqir.

Getting to Fort Al Faqir

Fort Al-Faqir is fairly isolated. The nearest town is Al-’Ula, though most travellers likely approach the area from the larger towns of Riyadh, Jeddah or Medina. 

Medina is situated approximately 224 miles from Fort Al-Faqir (just under a 4 hour journey by car via Route 328). The Fort is 645 miles from Riyadh, a 10 hour car journey. However an easier option for travellers would be to fly in to Alula and take a car from there to save the long journey! From Riyadh the flight takes 1 hour 45mins, and from Jeddah the flight is 1 hour 10mins.