AL HOFUF (لهفوف)

It is believed that Al-Hofuf and the whole region of Al-Ahsa were part of the ancient land of Dilmun that is referred to in Mesopotamian texts. Also, there is speculation about Al-Hofuf being the ancient city-state of Gerrha, as the Greek geographer Strabo mentioned. The recent history is more precise as the area came under Ottoman rule in the 18th century and was peacefully returned to Saudi rule by King Abdulaziz Al-Saud in 1913.

​We parked next to the Ibrahim Palace, the most visible landmark in Al-Hofuf as it is the old fortified area of the city. Its 100-meter-long walls surround an area of 16,500 square meters that hosts a white mosque whose dome and minaret rise above the walls. It is believed the fortified place was built by Al-Jabreen, a ruler of Al-Ahsa, during the 15th century.

Then we walked through Al-Koot, the former heart of the city, where some of the oldest buildings are found, including the House of Allegiance, where locals pledged their loyalty to the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud. The nearby beautiful two-storey square building with neo-Mughal and neo-classical architectural features opened in 1941 as a school for noble and royal boys was unfortunately closed.

Our last stop was completely reconstructed Souq Al Qaisariah. Now it feels like you’re walking through a North African medina, with its narrow alleyways lined by sellers sitting in small booths framed by wooden shutters. The market is still very local, though, selling spices, perfume, yashmaks (veils), and local handicrafts.

Parking location – Al Hofuf: 25.378657N 49.586179E (🚻)