From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Coordinates: 21°25′08″N 39°49′35″E
The Ajyad Fortress (Turkish: Ecyad Kalesi) was an
Ottoman citadel which stood on a hill overlooking the
Grand Mosque of Mecca, in what is now Saudi
Arabia. Built in the late 18th century, it was
destroyed by the Saudi government in 2002 for
commercial development, sparking global outcry.
3 See also
In 1781 (or 1777 or 1780, according to some
sources), the fortress was built in order to protect the
Kaaba and Islamic shrines in Mecca from bandits Ajyad Fortress atop the Bulbul hill
and invaders. The fort covered some 23,000 m2
(250,000 sq ft) on Bulbul Mountain  (a spur of
Jebel Kuda) overlooking the Masjid al-Haram from the south.
In early 2002, the Ajyad Fortress was demolished and most of Bulbul mount was levelled, in order to clear the area for the
$533 million construction project  of Abraj Al Bait Towers. Opening in 2012, the complex of multiple high-rise buildings
consists of apartments, a twin-tower five-star hotel, restaurants, and a shopping centre, built by the Saudi Binladin Group.
The destruction of the historic structure stirred both domestic and international protest.  The Turkish Foreign Minister İsmail
Cem İpekçi and other institutions tried to prevent the demolition. The Turkish Democratic Left Party (DSP) Deputy Ertuğrul
Kumcuoğlu even suggested a boycott on travelling to Saudi Arabia.  The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism
condemned the obliteration of the fortress, comparing the act to the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamyan, and accusing the
Saudi authorities of "continuing with their policy of demolishing Ottoman heritages." 
The French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) quoted Saudi Islamic affairs Minister Saleh al-Shaikh as saying "no-
one has the right to interfere in what comes under the state's authority". In reference to the housing component of the plan,
al-Sheikh added that it was intended to house pilgrims to Mecca, and said "this is in the interest of Muslims all over the
However, the destruction of this and other historic sites fuelled criticism of the Saudis, plans were made to rebuild the castle,
as ordered by the King in 2001: 
King Fahd has given his approval for the King Abdul Aziz Endowment for the Holy Haram and for the
preparation of the project site by removing the hill and the castle. The king instructed that the castle should be
preserved in full by rebuilding it," the minister said in a statement.
A 1/25 scale model of the fortress is included along with other architectural models at the Miniatürk miniature park in Istanbul,
The Qishla of Mecca
1. ^ Article from the Arab News of 9th January 2002
2. ^ a b Article in the Arab News of 26th December 2001
3. ^ ab Wheelan, Simon (2002-01-28). "Saudi government demolishes historic Ottoman castle" . World Socialist Web Site.
Archived from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
4. ^ Article from the Brunei Times by Pakinam Amer from Sunday, April 15, 2007, naming the demolished fortress and the new
building in the same sentence
5. ^ "Abraj Al Bait: a city within a city" . Qatar Construction Sites Newspaper. Retrieved 2008-04-09. [dead link]
6. ^ Gossett, Sherrie. "Mecca Conference Criticized for Hypocrisy on Holy Site Destruction" . crosswalk.com. Archived from the
original on 18 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
7. ^ Article on People's Daily Online
8. ^ Cumhuriyet article
9. ^ Palmer, Jason (2002-01-09). "Destroying Ottoman castle to build hotel is 'cultural massacre'" . The Independent. Retrieved
10. ^ Turkish Ministry of Culture Announcement Retrieved 03-28-2008
11. ^ "Holy site expansion to preserve historic Ajyad Fort" . Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia at Washington D.C. Website. 2002-01-
09. Retrieved 2008-04-09. [dead link ]
12. ^ Description and picture of the model on the Miniatürk website.
via Ajyad Fortress