The Unique Historic Fortresses of Taif


JEDDAH: The city of Taif with its beautifully rich and antique castles and fortresses have survived the test of time. These historic wonders have attracted many tourists and visitors from all over the world not only for its ancient nature but also due to its intricate architecture and design.

These wonders are considered to be one of Islamic culture’s best architectural system. These castles and fortresses did not only rely on designs that focused on providing protection during battles but were also used as control towers. It is interesting to mention that one of the most important architectural designs of the forts is a surveillance chamber on the upper floor, allowing the owner to monitor any possible assault. In addition to their war use they also had a strategic importance of being a residential building.

According to Saad Al-Joudi, a modern history teacher, “The forts in the south of Taif are known to be the biggest buildings not only for residence. They were built by a group of skilled constructors to protect residents from any interior or exterior assault.” He also points out, “the people of Taif built their forts in a special architectural way, benefitting from the richness of the mountain belts in their regions, creating cone-shaped buildings of different scales.”

An interesting insight regarding the construction of these forts is that strong me used to push the heavy stones where the constructor used those stones (reaching sometimes fifteen meters high) to build the fort. The thick stones always went first and the less-thick ones late in order to build a strong and stable defensive base ready to face the enemy.

The forts also have the capacity to handle the low temperatures in winter and the high heat of summer since the thickness of stones blocks wind, storms, cold temperatures and strong sun rays.

The wood paneling on the inside of these houses reflects the cultural period of these spaces making it an attractive spot for many European visitors.

Mona Osairy, a history scholar, writes “What makes Taif stone houses very special is the colored decoration everywhere on the inside and outside of these houses. While men were responsible for the construction, women handled the decoration, and thus the pictures on the forts’ walls reflect the skills of women who expressed themselves by carving in wood.”

For anyone who is a history lover, it is a must go place.