Murabba Palace

The Murabba Palace (Qasr al Murabba (the Square in Arabic)) is one of the historic buildings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The palace was named after its square with the form of 400 by 400 metres (1,300 by 1,300 ft).[2] It is one of the museums in the city.

Murabba Palace
قصر المربع-1980.jpg
General information
Architectural styleTraditional Arab architecture
Najdi urban patterns
Town or cityRiyadh
CountrySaudi Arabia
Construction started1936
ClientKing Abdulaziz
Technical details
Size7,000 square-metre[1]

History and locationEdit

The palace was built by King Abdulaziz outside Riyadh, being the first major expansion of the city in the twentieth century.[2] Construction was started in 1936, partly finalized in 1938[3] and fully completed in 1945.[4] The palace was intended to be a family residence and court for the king.[5] With the construction of the palace three novel technologies were introduced to the Saudi society: the use of the automobiles as means of transportation, electricity by means of generators and water closets with drainage systems.[2]

The king left his former court in Masmak fort when the construction was finished,[1] and used the palace as his residence and court from 1938 until his death in 1953.[6] One of his wives, Hussa bint Ahmed Al Sudairi, also moved with him to the palace in 1938.[7] Another palace, Addeera, was also used as royal residence.[4]

During this period Murabba Palace witnessed many official visits and sign of various agreements.[8] A lift was installed into the Murabba Palace in the late 1940s when the king had difficulty in climbing the stairs due to advanced arthritis.[1] It was the first lift in Saudi Arabia.[1] The king appointed one of his sons, Prince Mansour, as emir of the palace.[9]

The Murabba palace is situated two kilometers north of the old city of Riyadh, and its total area was over 16 hectares.[10] It is located about half a mile from Masmak fort.[6] The area where the palace was constructed was called Murabba Al Sufyan.[11] In the south of the palace there are gardens, and the Batha valley is situated in the east.[11] Wadi Abu Rafie is in the west, and small hills lie on the north of the palace.[11]

Murabba Palace is very close to Al Shamsia mansion which was the residence of Saud Al Kabeer and his wife Noura bint Abdul Rahman, elder sister of King Abdulaziz.[12]

Layout and styleEdit

The palace is a complex of palaces used for different purposes, housing two stories with 32 rooms.[11] Overall shape of the building is cubic.[13] It is made up of residential buildings, service facilities and the diwan of the king.[5] These buildings are surrounded by a courtyard.[14] A huge brick wall also surrounds the palace, and there are nine gates.[8] The main gate was originally on the west side, but, later the gate on the southern side was used as main entrance which allowed a short link to the nearby mosque.[4]

The upper floor of the building used for court of the king included audience hall, offices of administrative affairs, communications and guest chambers.[11] The ground floor housed the offices for palace utilities, security and administration.[11]

It has a plain style[5] and reflects the general features of the traditional Najdi architecture.[4] The building also reflects the general characteristics of Najd's urban pattern, namely solid masses, covered streets, and the integration of courtyards.[2] The palace was built mainly by bricks, indigenous stones, tamarisk trunk and palm-leaf stalks.[11] The walls of the building were made by straw reinforced adobe, and have engraved ornaments on coating.[4] Local Acacia with palm frond matts was used for the ceiling of the palace.[4] The wood beams supporting the ceiling have decorations with yellow, red, and black geometric patterns.[4]

Current usageEdit

A development project was initiated by the Supreme Commission of Tourism and Antiquities in 1999 to renovate the Murabba palace.[15][16] It was converted into a museum that is open to public visits.[17] It was called "living museum" after renovation.[13] It is part of the King Abdulaziz Darat or King Abdulaziz Historical Center.[5][18]

In the current usage, the ground floor includes the guards' room and stores for food, coffee, wood and other materials needed for cooking.[18] The upper floor is made up of salons and waiting rooms for visitors.[18] There several historic garments and crafts are exhibited.[19] There is also the King Abdulaziz memorial hall and a written and photographic archive centre in the building.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Murabba Palace Historical Centre". Simbacom. Archived from the original on 19 June 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Saleh al Hathloul (21 April 2002). "Riyadh Architecture in One Hundred Years" (Public lecture). Center of the Study of Built Environment. Amman. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  3. ^ "Experience to discover". Saudi Tourism. Archived from the original on 16 May 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Al Murabba Palace (Saudi Arabia)". IRCICA. Archived from the original on 22 July 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d "King Abdulaziz Historical Center". ArRiyadh City. 8 October 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Rebirth of a historic center". Saudi Embassy Magazine. Spring 1999. Archived from the original on 7 August 2013.
  7. ^ Kholoud Al Abdullah (23 September 2014). "سعوديات خلدهن التاريخ". Rouge Magazine (in Arabic). Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  8. ^ a b "The Murabba Palace". Whatafy. 4 May 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  9. ^ "The King of Arabia". Life. 31 May 1943. p. 72. ISSN 0024-3019. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  10. ^ Yasser Elsheshtawy (2008). The Evolving Arab City: Tradition, Modernity and Urban Development. Routledge. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-415-41156-1.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g "Murabba Palace: The historical divan of King Abdul Aziz". Arab news. Jeddah. 24 September 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  12. ^ H. St. J. B. Philby (Spring 1959). "Riyadh: Ancient and Modern". Middle East Journal. 13 (2): 129–141. JSTOR 4323104.
  13. ^ a b "Murabba Palace". CIAH. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  14. ^ Jonathan M. Bloom; Sheila Blair (2009). The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture: Delhi to Mosque. Oxford University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-19-530991-1.
  15. ^ Faleh Al Dhuyabi; Majed Al Mufadhali (11 March 2010). "SCTA takes over Al Saqqaf Palace". Saudi Gazette. Jeddah/Mecca. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  16. ^ "King Abdulaziz Historical Centre". ArchNet. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  17. ^ Catherine Broberg (January 2003). Saudi Arabia in Pictures. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-8225-1958-4.
  18. ^ a b c "Al Murabba'a Historical Palace, Riyadh". Aol Travel. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  19. ^ "Riyadh. Murabba Palace". Meet Saudi Arabia. Retrieved 22 July 2013.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 24°38′47″N 46°42′33″E / 24.6465°N 46.7093°E / 24.6465; 46.7093