Al Masmak is a thick-walled fortress that was established in Riyadh during the second Saudi state time in the 19th century. It was built mainly for defense purposes, but later had different uses.

After the fall of the second Saudi State, members of the Saudi royal family including, Abdulaziz ibn Saud (father of the current king), were in exile in Kuwait.

Abdulaziz, who later baceme king, wanted to take back Riyadh from Ibn Rasheed and he had several attempts to recapture Riyadh but he did not succeed. On an early morning of January 1902 (1319 AH) Abdulaziz ibn Saud and his men reached Riyadh fought against the chief of Riyadh “ibn Ajlan” right at Al Masmak. Ibn Ajlan was defeated and Abdulaziz became the ruler of Riyadh.

This battle is known as “the battle of Riyadh”, a starting point for re-unifying the different emirates and tribes of the arabian peninsula. This makes Al Masmak one of the most iconic places for Saudis history.

After the recapture of Riyadh; Al Masmak was used as a town hall and then served as a warehouse for munitions. What most people might not know about Al masmak is, that not too long after being used as a warehouse, the fort served as a prison until mid 20th century.

Now Al-Masmak is a museum covering the history of The kingdom with more focus on Riyadh and the battle of Riyadh. The museum contains artifacts, weapons, maps, a small theater showing the story of recapturing Riyadh and a really good photo-gallery that gives visitors a brief insight of how life in Riyadh looked like in the old days.

Al Masmak was built on top of a strong rocky foundation using local building substances such as clay, palm tree materials, straw, rocks and tamarix trunks. The fortress is one of fewwell perserved mud buildings in Riyadh, which makes it a very good illustration of traditional najdi architecture.

It is one of the kingdoms must visit museums and it’s free Entry.

­čôŹLocation: 3153 Al Thumairi St, Ad Dirah, 6937, Riyadh 12634, Saudi-Arabia. Click here

ÔĆ▒Visiting hours: ÔÇó Sun – Thu: 08:45 a.m. – 09:00 p.m. Fri: 04:00 p.m. – 08:00 p.m. Sat: 09:00 a.m – 08:00 p.m.

During Ramadan
Sun – Thurs : 10:30 a.m. – 02:30 p.m. & 08:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.
Fri – Sat: 08:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.

­čÄčEntry is free. You can also contact the museum by phone: +966114110091 or email: and ask for a free tour in the museum. This is mostly done for groups.