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Fort Masmak

Abdulaziz’s recapture of the fort and, thus, the city, marked the beginning of the Third Saudi State with him as the head of the House of Saud monarchy as he consolidated his control over the Najd in 1922, then conquered the Hijaz in 1925. Having seized almost all of central Arabia, Abdulaziz united his territories into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. As King, he presided over the discovery of petroleum in Saudi Arabia in 1938 and the beginning of large-scale oil exploitation after World War II.


Abdulaziz was the father of many children having 45 sons, including all of the subsequent kings of Saudi Arabia to include the current king, King Abdullah, Abdulaziz’s fifth son in succession to rule.


Addulaziz’s attack on Fort Masmak restored Al Saud control over Riyadh and has acquired almost mythical status in the history of Saudi Arabia and has been retold many times, but has as its central theme the heroism and bravery of the future King Abdulaziz.


The Fort’s palm tree gate is 3.65 meters (12.0 ft) high by 2.65 meters (8.7 ft) wide. There is an opening on the center of the door, called al-Khokha, which is just big enough for one person to pass at a time, and is a defensive feature designed to allow people in and out without opening the door. The castle also encloses a mosque and a well and the roofs are covered with painted palm-tree, taramic and ethel wood. The museum includes a display on many antique guns, costumes and agriculture artifacts.


During the attack, a spear was hurled at the main entrance door with such force that the head is still lodged in the doorway.


At the beginning of the 1980s, renovations were begun and completed in 1995. Since then, it has become a model for modern museums in the Kingdom. Many of the most important historical artifacts related to Kingdom’s foundation and unification are found here.


Since 1995, Fort Masmak has received around 1.3 million visitors.


Jut behind Fort Masmak is Deera Square, a public space in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in which public executions (usually by beheading) take place. It is sometimes known as Justice Square or “Chop Chop Square" (Pictue 14).  After Friday prayers, police and other officials clear the area to make way for the execution to take place. After the beheading of the condemned, the body is wrapped up for the final rites and taken away.

The Masmak - Arabic: Qaṣr al-Maṣmak قصر المصمك - is a clay and mud-brick fort, with four watchtowers and thick walls, founded on stone blocks, lying in the center of Riyadh, in the old quarters. This building was built around 1865 and played a major part in the kingdom's history, for it was here the young Amir Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal Al Saud, who was at the time living in exile in Kuwait succeeded, in capturing the Masmak fortress from its Rashid garrison. While observing Ramadan, Abdulaziz decided to attack Riyadh, his family’s ancestral home, and retake it from the Al Rashidi. Leading 40 men up tilted palm trees to scale the walls, Abdulaziz seized the fort on the night of 15 January 1902, killed the Rashidi governor of the city and reclaimed Riyadh.


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