Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia and lies on the great limestone plateau of Nejd in the centre of the Arabian Peninsula, some 2500 feet above sea level. In arabic the name literally means ‘Gardens’.
Being a former trade centre on the pilgrim route across the Peninsula, Riyadh has been a midpoint of attention for centuries. After the young Abdulaziz gained control of Riyadh in 1902, it was from this base that he gradually established control over a vast area from the Arabian Gulf to the Red Sea. This area became, in 1932, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Nowadays, Riyadh is a bustling metropolis with state-of-the-art architecture and a modern city infrastructure.
Just 20 km outside Riyadh a visit to the old village of Dariyah is a must. From here the Saud family originated before it spread its power over the country. The village contains a number of Saud family palaces, in various states of restoration. Most buildings date back to the 1920-1930s, althought the village as a whole is about two centuries old. Reaching Dariyah is not easy and it is advisable for visitors who reach the place by taxi to make the driver wait. Taxis are not readily available at the location for the return trip.