Nestled 6,000 feet high in the mountains and only a few hours away from the city of Mecca, Taif is a beautiful city to visit in Saudi Arabia. Popularly known as the “city of colours”, it was historically the food basket of Arabia and still recounts for much of its fruit production. An important asset in terms of agriculture for the country, it is often called the ‘garden of Hijaz’. Unlike any other city of Saudi Arabia, Taif enjoys pleasant weather for much of the year and is the summer capital of the nation. There are plenty of tourist attractions and historical places as well as mosques and Islamic sites in Taif that must be visited on your trip to this pretty city.
Historical Places in Taif
Old Fort, Taif
Built in 1905 by the orders of Sharif Ali Pasha, this beautiful palace has been converted into a museum. With its latticework windows, pretty balconies, and interior marble from Carrara, it was constructed in Roman and Arabic form of architecture and reminds of the old Taif. King Abdul Aziz used to live here, and the palace was also the residence of King Faisal.
- Timing: 12:01 pm – 12:00 am
- Entry: Free
You will find the remnants of the fort near the Rock Carvings and according to the legends, it is said that Lawrence of Arabia fought on this site in 1917. Many battles have been fought here and several graves from ancient times can be found.
The largest museum in Taif, it has more than 30,000 artefacts including old photographs of the city, ancient manuscripts, stone carvings, ancient arts and crafts and much more. The museum also has a good collection of jewellery, leather goods and teapots.
Green Village Museum:
Featuring a tourist park with over 20,000 remains of ancient heritage, Green Village Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Taif. The museum exhibits a wide range of artefacts including armours, swords, bow & arrows, historical currency and ancient coins as well as some jewellery and clothing that belonged to the Saudi royal family.
Rock Carving Sites:
Located at a distance of about 40 km in North of Taif, it was the site of Okaz Souq, the largest gathering place during the ancient times when Arabs would often meet to pass important judgement and make announcements.
Al Kateb House:
Built in 1897 by Mohammed Bin Abdul Wahed, the structure of Al Kateb House features a mix of Hejazi and Roman architecture with Islamic embellishments. It has served as a residence to Taif’s top officials and was last occupied in 1968. It has also been home to King Faisal when he was the viceroy of the Hejaz region. The building is closed for now and needs restoration.
Once counted among Taif’s finest buildings, Beit Kaki was built in 1943 as a summer residence for one of Mecca’s most influential merchant families. The intricately carved windows, door frames and pretty balconies are unlike any other you’ll see in the city, but sadly the building is now closed for renovation.
Islamic Places in Taif
Al Madhoon Mosque:
Also known as Al Qantara Masjid, this mosque dates back to the Ottoman era and known for its cylindrical-shaped Athan tower. The mosque is open for prayers and visitors can access its minaret. It is worth a visit to admire the unique architecture of the mosque and enjoy the view from the top of the tower. The mosque is built at a spot opposite to the garden where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) took refuge after chased by people of Taif after he shared the message of Islam. Addas (RA) a Christian from Ninevah (now in Iraq) and the caretaker of the grapes garden accepted Islam and became the first believer from Taif.
Al Kou Mosque:
One of the most peaceful places in Taif, this mosque is a popular place among tourists and worth a visit. However, tourists are not allowed to enter inside the mosque and one can only view it from the outside. It is associated with the incident of that old lady who used to throw garbage at Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) whenever he used to pass across her house. Others believe that this was the place where the Prophet (PBUH) rested when he was attacked by the mob of Taif. The Mosque was built some 800 years after the death of the Prophet (PBUH).
Grand Masjid of Abdullah Ibn Abbas (RA):
This mosque is located close to the grave of Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) the paternal cousin of the Prophet (PBUH). Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) was also known as ’Hibr-ul–Ummat’, the most learned man of Islam and ‘Bahrul Ulum’, ocean of knowledge in his time. He is most revered for his expertise in Tafsir (exegesis) of the Quran and narrated about 1660 hadith. He died in 68 AH in Taif and is buried near the mosque. About him, Sa`ad ibn Abi Waqqas (RA) said, “I have never seen someone who was quicker in understanding, who had more knowledge and greater wisdom than Ibn Abbas (RA). I have seen Umar (RA) summon him to discuss difficult problems in the presence of veterans of Badr from among the Muhajireen and Ansar. Ibn Abbas (RA) would speak and Umar (RA) would not disregard what he had to say.”
This mosque is built on a spot where the first man from Taif embraced Islam. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) along with his adopted son Zaid bin Harith (RA) travelled to preach Islam outside of Makkah for the first time. He had some relations in Taif through his mother’s side and after receiving harsh treatment at Makkah, the Prophet (PBUH) thought that his relatives will allow him to propagate the message of Islam in Taif. But the reception was just reverse and he had to return after being offended and even hurt physically. He took shelter in the grape field where Addas, a Christian from Ninevah (a place now in Iraq) offered him grapes. When Rasoolullah (PBUH) recited the name of Allah (SWT) before eating a grape, he quizzed about it and understood that the man before him is the Messenger of Allah. Addas embraced Islam without a second thought and became the first believer from Taif.
Qarn Al-Manazil (Al Sail) & Meeqat Wadi Muharram (Meeqat Hada):
The two Meeqat points in Taif, Qarn Al-Manazil and Meeqat Wadi Muharram have an ancient history for serving the pilgrims since the early times. From these two crucial locations a vast majority of pilgrims cross into Makkah. Qarn Al Manazil, located about 55 km to the north of Taif on Makkah-Riyadh Highway, most of Kingdom’s and GCC pilgrims cross into Makkah from this point. It is also known as Al Sail. The maintenance of mosques and these Meeqats is the responsibility of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
Also Read: Mostly Visited Pilgrimage Places in Mecca
Top Attractions in & Around Taif
Al Faisaliah Garden:
Featuring a lot of fountains and amusement rides, this place is quite popular among families and kids. The garden is very well-maintained and famous for barbeques. A quiet and peaceful place, it is the perfect spot to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Visitors will enjoy the dancing fountain.
- Timing: 12:00 pm – 01:00 am
- Entry: Free
Al Rudaf Park:
A perfect destination for your family weekend, Al Rudaf Park is one of the best recreation parks to visit in Taif. With musical fountains, small rock mountains, fun rides for kids and playgrounds for children, it is a fun destination for adults as well as kids. Visit for a fun evening out and for enjoying the dancing fountains which is the highlight of the park.
- Timing: 04:30 pm – 11:00 pm
- Entry: Free
Green Mountain Park:
Located on the Alhada Road of Taif, Green Mountain Park is a theme park with several amusement rides and many diverse events being held. It is a peaceful place and the visitors will find the greenery of the park extremely soothing amidst the deserts of Taif. Green Mountain Park is a popular tourist attraction and a favourite among families and kids.
- Timing: 12:00 pm – 02:00 am
- Entry: Free
With various tourist attractions in Shafa Mountains and its surrounding, a visit is a must. Remember to go for a cable car journey to the top of the Shafa Mountain which is one of the most popular points of interest in Taif. The journey starts from Al-Kurr Village and takes you to the top of the mountain. If you have time, you can also explore the nearby Al-Hada and Al-Shifa parks.
Al Wahbah Crater:
Located 250 kilometres away from Taif, Al Wahbah Crater is a volcanic crater that fills with water during the rainy season. The bottom of the crater was formed by a meteorite and takes about 45-60 minutes to reach. It is a very quaint place and camping is allowed around the crater but people avoid visiting the bottom due to the difficulty of climbing up from the bottom of the crater while returning. There is also a mosque at the entrance of the road to the crater and you’ll also find many upgraded picnic shelters at the rim.
- Timing: 24-Hrs
- Entry: Free
King Fahad Zoo:
The oldest park in the city, King Fahad zoo is home to diverse animals and birds including elephants, lions, and zebras. The zoo also features fun rides for both kids and adults. Kids will especially love the dolphin show. It is a must-visit place for families and kids.
- Timing: 09:00 am – 12:00 am
- Entry: Free
The largest rose factory in Taif, this 120-year-old Al Gadhi Rose Factory is worth a visit, especially during the harvest time, from May to July when it’s open round the clock for the visitors. You can witness how the flower petals are transformed into rose water, scent and other products, all of which are also available for sale here. Rosa damascena trigintipetala, a unique kind of rose is grown here whose fragrance is used as an ingredient for the perfumes by brands like Ormonde Jayne Perfumery, Perris, Chanel, and Guerlain. For this reason, Taif is also sometimes referred to as the rose capital of Saudi Arabia.
- Entry: Free
Also known as Saiysad dam, it lies about 12 km south-east of Taif amidst the mountains. An ancient dam in the region, it was built to collect water that used to come through the mountains during rain. The foundation of the dam is still present and rests on a mountain where the front side of the dam was built.
Best Things to Do in Taif
Fun & Frolic at Water Amusement Park
The water amusement park at Al Kar Tourist Village is one of the topmost attractions in Taif that you wouldn’t want to miss. With several swimming pools and water sports, it is perfect for a day out with the family for fun and enjoyment. The park can be easily reached by taking a cable car ride from Al Hada region.
Attend Souq Okaz Festival
A unique tourism destination in Taif, it is the largest Souq in Saudi Arabia and a must-visit place in the city. Set in a renovated historical complex, it represents an important chapter in the Arab history where Arabs used to meet, hold religious talks, settle disputes, pass judgments, and announce truces and treaties. This event was known as Souk Okaz and now honoured annually by a 10-day cultural fest of poetry readings, dancing, sport, theatre and markets. Tourists from all over the world visit this Souq to get a perspective of this unique historical and artistic forum. It has undergone several developments over the years and many activities have been added to it.