Here is some photos I took during my last couple of weeks in Arabia and a little tale about al-Balad - Jeddah, an ancient port city by the Red Sea.
It was here in Jeddah the pilgrims arrive(d) on their way to the Holy cities of Medina and Makkah.
The city traces its traditions back approximately 2500 years.
Beautiful, intriguing buildings made outof coral blocks were you can see pieces of coral and sea shells incorporated to the structure. The walls and the foundation are built entirely with coral taken from the seashore or from the surrounding hills which once were under the sea level. The blocks are held together with mortar made by mixing sand and lime, which was produced by firing coral in large vats.
The buildings are slowly falling apart and some of their wooden balconies looks like they will collapse at any moment. I observed some restoration of some of the buildings and was told that they were slowly undergoing restoration.
The balconies provided beautification to the buildings but were there for the practical use of keeping the afternoon breeze to cool and ventilate the house(s).
Blue, pistachio green or sun bleached brown wood - Wood brought back from destinations far away.The balconies were extensions of the house were there owners could sit comfortably and smoke a Shisha (water pipe) with herbal fruits or tobacco in the cooling breeze.To protect the wood from the heat, humidity and insects the wood was coated with a liquid extracted from the Al-Bisham plant found in the mountains. Shark oil was also used for the same purpose. The resulting brown stain was an effective preservative.
The more elaborated balconies with integrate carvings are called mushrabiyah and balconies are called roshan.Balad is a city within the city and a part of the souk.
(All photos in this post by Tavarua)
The rest of this tale? Maybe - you will have some sweet dates and some Arabic coffee under the shades of a palm tree somewhere in the desert...and continue to write the tale of a traveler - I will leave it up to your own imagination.....