Mada’en Saleh, also known as Al Hijr, is located amid a series of interlocking mountains and rocky cliffs and surrounded by a ring of sandy mountains. Al Hijr was mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, and described as the home of the Thamud. Mada’en Saleh is considered to be the most important settlement of the Nabataeans, second only to Petra. Its most significant cultural role dates back to the first two centuries B.C. and first century A.D., i.e., during the flourishing Nabataean state and before its fall at the hands of the Roman Emperor in 106 A.D. Al Hijr continued to be a source of cultural energy and intellectual interaction probably until the 4th century A.D.
Mount Athleb stands dramatically on the horizon surrounded by vast openness in the northeast in Mada’en Saleh. As is the case in Petra Jordan, this area also has a narrow passageway called Siq. A large open foyer (hall) called a Diwan was carved into the. Two columns and some stone terraces atop the three interior walls surround it.
Al Fareed Palace
Al Fareed Palace is the most popular of the Nabataean tombs in Al Hijr and the most appealing in general. It is characterized by a large northern façade, and it gained the name Fareed (Arabic for unique) for being the only tomb with a separate stone mass and a large façade, unlike all other tombs in Mada’en Saleh. Note the intricate carvings and the aesthetics of the façade.
Qasr Al San’e
The first of the tombs is the Qasr Al San’e, and it exhibits the key elements of Nabataean style tombs, i.e., a large facade, two descending forms consisting of five gradations, inscriptions above the entrance, and slots inside the tomb where the dead were placed.