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Syrian Hajj Road

Date of Submission: 08/04/2015
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Saudi Arabia to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Tabuk, Madinah, Makkah Regions
Coordinates: N 3216541.21 E 224357.03
Ref.: 6027

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


Latitude and Longitude, or UTM coordinates:





That Hajj Fort

37 R

224357.03 m E

3216541.21 m N

Ain Siker Fort (Tabuk)

37 R

260579.04 m E

3142031.25 m N

Al-Mua’azam Fort and Pool

37 R

353538.25 m E

3069088.94 m N

Al-Buraika Fort and Pool

37 R

380137.51 m E

3023821.64 m N

Islamic Fort in Al-Hijr

37 R

395667.84 m E

2965190.22 m N

Traditional Town in Al-Ula

37 R

392023.67 m E

2945361.62 m N

Zumurrud Fort and Pool

37 R

442000.49 m E

2895160.58 m N

Assoura Fort

37 R

455819.15 m E

2878631.00 m N

Hadiyyah Fort

37 R

473746.46 m E

2824875.41 m N

Jadda’a Fort

37 R

481330.74 m E

2806979.88 m N

Al-Hafeera Fort

37 R

536591.34 m E

2719677.65 m N

The Road then links with the Egyptian Hajj Road after Medina

It is the oldest Road used by Muslim pilgrim convoys after the Makkah /Madinah road, and it was known in the early Islamic period as Attabukiyah road. This route connects Damascus to Madinah, and its length is 1307 Kilometers, passing a number of camps and stations, the most important of which are That Al- Hajj, Tabuk, Al-Akhdhar, Al-Mu’azam, Al-Aqraa, Al-Hijr, and Al-Ula. The trail received the interest of Caliphs and Muslim rulers in various Islamic periods and eras, who conducted many of the reforms, construction and multiple changes, including the creation of pools, tanks, canals, forts, castles, mosques, bridges, markets and others. Spreads along the trail are numerous inscriptions and memorial Islamic writings.

The Main Syrian Hajj Route (Attabukiya)

The Levant Hajj route was Known since the dawn of Islam under the name of Attabukiya relative to Tabuk in which it goes through, the route that begins from Damascus, and passes on Bussra Asham and other stations in Syria and Jordan, including: Draat (Dara’a), Ma’an, Sirgh (Al-Mudawara), then enters the Kingdom's borders and passes on Halat Ammar, That El-Hajj, Tabuk, Al-Akhdhar, Al-Muazam, Al-Dar Al-Hamra, Al-Uqairea, Al-Hijr (Madain Saleh), Qarh and Al-Ula. This route did not change iits segments between Tabuk and Al-Ula throughout Islamic times, but some stations contain more than one name.

The Roads between the Levant to the Holy Sites

Passing through the North-west of the Kingdom are a number of tracks linking the Levant to the Holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, among these tracks are the Shami Hajj Road, and Tayma Road that disperse after Tabuk and headed to Madinah  through Tayma and Khybar, and Al-Ma'rifa route that connects  Yanbu and the Shami Hajj route through Al-Easse.

The importance of Fortifications and Traveler Safety and Security:

-  Pilgrims deposits and stores their goods in the Forts including some food for their return trip.

-  Forts Provide shelter and nurture those lost from the poor and needy.

-  Forts Provide dwelling for those disconnected from the caravan due to illness or injury.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The yearly Islamic pilgrimage to the Holy city of Makkah is one of the five pillars of Islam and one of the most important and most ancient religious pilgrimages in the world. Until today, millions of Muslim pilgrims visit Makkah every year to accomplish this religious duty. Pilgrimage (Hajj) is a spiritual and psychological journey, where feelings are mixed between joy and sadness, longing and nostalgia, far away from home, family and friends, winning and suffering, hope in Allah’s mercy and mixed Human feelings. For centuries, the Muslim pilgrims crossed the Arabian Desert in long caravans that followed traditional paths and routes to reach the Holy City of Makkah. Pilgrimage routes were not only religious axes but also commercial axes favouring movement across the ancient world and the cultural and commercial exchanges with continuity over a long period of time. The Hajj land routes leading to Makkah from the neighbouring countries materialize on the land of Arabia this century-old, deeply rooted cultural and religious tradition, and constitute one of the most important material vestiges of the Islamic civilization in Saudi Arabia. The Syrian Hajj road perfectly embodies the cultural significance coming from exchanges and multi- dimensional dialogue across countries as it permitted to bring together Muslim pilgrims from different ethnic groups and regions, favouring cultural, religious and scientific exchanges among the inhabitants of the region. The Syrian Hajj road illustrates the interaction of movement, along the route, in space and time from the early Islamic periods till the establishment of the Hejazi Railroad in the early 20th Century.

Criterion (ii): This road exhibited an important interaction of human values, over a span of time extending from the early Islamic to the Late Abbasid and Ottoman periods or extending from major cities in Iraq through the northern and central regions of Arabia linking the states and kingdoms through Mesopotamia to the Holly lands in Makkah and Madinah, witnessing developments in architecture ranging from simple tent camps to fortified Palaces and water administration technology to large masses of travellers either pilgrim or trade caravans, including monumental works of arts in the form of memorial inscriptions and milestones, with outstanding landscape works in easing and facilitating travel along the trail.

Criteria (iv): The pools, canals and wells along the route represents outstanding example of architectural and water administration technological ensemble which illustrates significant stages in human ingenuity;

Criterion (vi): The trail is directly associated with the Pilgrimage ritual (Hajj) engaged by Muslims from all around the world either rich or poor, with the idea of facilitating and easing travel through the vast desert wilderness of Arabia, this ritual forms the fifth pillar of Islam, many memorial inscriptions are found along the trail, and literary was described by early Muslim Geographers and later by Western traveller making Darb Zubaydah as an outstanding universal significance.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Integrity: The stations and forts, combined with their routes and commercial markets, provide a very complete picture  of  the  Arab  desert  culture  strung  along  a  trade  route.  Remains  of  all  the  elements  that comprised the stations (dwellings, forts, caravanserais, and markets) are still found along the trail. The limited recent development of these sites has given them considerable protection from urban encroachment and none of their attributes are now under threat.

Authenticity: Shami Hajj Road remained active for many centuries. The remains of the stations, forts, caravanserais and the desert landscape surrounding them reflect and exemplify the relevance of the Hajj Route and the prosperity it brought to the area.

Comparison with other similar properties

From Islam's earliest years, the desire to perform the Hajj set large numbers of people travelling to Makkah and to Madinah, the heart of Islam. As a result, certain existing trade routes took on new importance and new routes developed that crisscrossed the Muslim  world. To ease the pilgrims' journey, rulers and wealthy patrons built caravanserais, supplied water and provided protection along these roads to Makkah and Madinah. Individual Muslims, in the name of charity, helped others to make the journey. So beyond the meaning of each pilgrim's Hajj spiritually, the Hajj took on great importance as a social phenomenon, contributing enormously to forging a melded Islamic culture and a worldwide Islamic community whose shared characteristics bridged differences of nationality, ethnicity and custom. Villages  and mosques from the Atlantic shores of Africa to the Iberian Peninsula andfrom the Pacific coast of China toZanzibar in the south to the Caucasus and central Asia in the north. The stream of pilgrims passed even the most distant parts of the Islamic world, and everywhere everyone knew someone who had been on the Hajj. Each passing pilgrim was a tangible reminder of the scope of the faith and the reach of the culture. Hajj was the heartbeat of the Earth's first genuinely transcontinental culture. The Islamic World, for nearly a millennium, was a composite Afro-Eurasian free-trade zone through which not only pilgrims but also traders, merchants and bureaucrats travelled with relative freedom and ease. By creating and nurturing this commons, the Hajj expanded the possibilities of science, commerce, politics and religion. Commerce was supported by the system of caravan and sea routes. The closer one got to Makkah, the more the Hajj roads were the main arteries of this system, swelling with pilgrims from all points of the compass. No traveller came to the Holy Cities empty-handed, for some carried goods to pay their way, others bore local news that they carried among the provinces, and more learned ones brought the latest concepts and ideas, essential nutrients for the intellectual life of the Islamic World. The Hajj likewise affected many who were not on the road. The desire to assist the pilgrim's orientation, observation and movements spurred Muslim advances in mathematics, optics, astronomy, navigation, transportation, geography, education, medicine, finance, culture and even politics. The constant flow of pilgrims turned the trails into channels of cultural and intellectual ferment.

Other pilgrimage and religious routes of other world religions inscribed on the World Heritage List

Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France:

Santiago de Compostela was proclaimed the first European Cultural itinerary by the Council of Europe in 1987. This route from the French-Spanish border was – and still is – taken by pilgrims to Santiago de Composte Some 1,800 buildings along the route, both religious and secular, are of great historic interest. The route played a fundamental role in encouraging cultural exchanges between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe during the Middle Ages. It remains a testimony to the power of the Christian faith among people of all social classes and from all over Europe.

Santiago de Compostela was the supreme goal for countless thousands of pious pilgrims who converged there from all over Europe throughout the Middle Ages. To reach Spain pilgrims had to pass through France, and the group of important historical monuments included in this inscription marks out the four routes by which they did so.

Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range

Set in the dense forests of the Kii Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean, three sacred sites – Yoshino and Omine, Kumano Sanzan, Koyasan – linked by pilgrimage routes to the ancient capital cities of Nara and Kyoto, reflect the fusion of Shinto, rooted in the ancient tradition of nature worship in Japan, and Buddhism, which was introduced from China and the Korean Peninsula. The sites (495.3 ha) and their surrounding  forest  landscape  reflect  a  persistent  and  extraordinarily  well-documented  tradition  of sacred mountains over 1,200 years. The area, with its abundance of streams, rivers and waterfalls, is still part of the living culture of Japan and is much visited for ritual purposes and hiking, with up to 15 million visitors annually. Each of the three sites contains shrines, some of which were founded as early as the 9th century.

Route of the Franciscan Evangelisation

The  Route  have  26  churches,  some  chaplainries  and  oratories  built  during  the  time  of  Spanish dominance (1524-1821) under the direction of the order of Preachers of San Francisco, for the religious teaching and the local natives' castellanización, descending of the Mayan. This circumstance explains the stylistic unit of the buildings, as well as the presence in the same of great quantity of works of art, used with didactic purposes and religious that still charge life in the region like fundamental elements inside the local ideological unit.

Incense Route - Desert Cities in the Negev

The four Nabatean towns of Haluza, Mamshit, Avdat and Shivta, along with associated fortresses and agricultural landscapes in the Negev Desert, are spread along routes linking them to the Mediterranean end of the incense and spice route. Together they reflect the hugely profitable trade in frankincense and myrrh from south Arabia to the Mediterranean, which flourished from the 3rd century BC until the 2nd century AD. With the vestiges of their sophisticated irrigation systems, urban constructions, forts and caravanserai, they bear witness to the way in which the harsh desert was settled for trade and agriculture.

The Cuenca Mirador

Some of the cities that form this route, present very old dates about that 1000 A.C goes back a year. The cities are composed by several architectural groups that communicate by roadways that were used like roads that also were connected in to complex net among the cities of Nakbé, The Mirador and Wakná. Another special characteristic of the buildings is the use of stuccoed mascarpone’s and associate stelas, as well as the use of big fortifications. Rich tombs of important characters exist with paintings murals and hieroglyphic inscriptions.

Silk Route (Also as Silk Road)

Silk Road on the territory of Kazakhstan is divided into several main sections (parts). Represented and marked by monuments of history and culture these sections (roads) are original and have distinct features distinguishing them one from each other. Most probably, it was the natural environment and adaptation of human to existence in definite climatic conditions that has shaped the originality of a definite section. It can be affirmed with full confidence that the Silk Road is a phenomenon of unification of diversity of regions with the help of universal system of exchange of human values which was created, developed and maintained by people of different ethnical, linguistic, religious belonging during more than two thousands of years of existence of the Silk Road.