Old Jeddah is considered a cultural and tourist landmark. This is
because of its unique cultural and architectural heritage that
reflects the original identity of the Kingdom. Surrounded by walls,
Old Jeddah, had grown vertically through the ages and the dense blocks
of houses, merchants palaces, mosques and minarets, had shaped it.
Small yards and squares and narrow streets separate these dense blocks
of buildings. The Old City is divided into three parts and is
protected by a wall facing the land. The three parts are: Mahelat (
the place of ) Ash' shan: Is in the northwestern part of the city. The
merchants and the well to do lived in this part because it was
characterized by mild weather due to the northwestern wind. This area
is also close to the sea and many terraces were built at the front of
buildings to take advantage of the water views. Mahelat ( the place of
) al Madhloom: This is the oldest place in Old Jeddah. It is located
in the northeastern part of the city. It used to be the most populated
area of the city. In this part, there are many mosques and old market
places. Greater Jeddah's oldest mosque - al Shafei Mosque - is located
here. Mahelat al Bahr ( the place of the sea ): It is in the
southwestern part and is considered part of Mahelat al Yemen since it
lies in the south.
Historic Jeddah represents a unique example of a comprehensive urban fabric reflecting the characteristics of the Red Sea Coast urban heritage, like the one you can find in Massawa, Eritrea: multiple floors and architectural detailing on its elevations especially the wooden screening and balconies elements or “MASHRABIYAH” with distinctive designs are examples of these buildings. In 1970, the Ministry of Municipalities and Rural affairs suggested the preservation of 537 buildings, from
amongst those in good condition.
Nowadays, most of the buildings host somalis refugees people, yemenis, and pakistanis.
© Eric Lafforgue