Built on the historic Ottoman Railway station in Madinah, the Hejaz Railway Museum was opened to the public in 2006. The museum is an excellent place to visit because it tells the history of the Hejaz Railway during the Ottoman Empire. It has 14 large halls with a huge number of artifacts, as well as some visual exhibits and old photos that explain the region’s rich heritage from ancient times to the modern era. It has a few old Ottoman-era train engines and wagons. The museum has an exhibition related exclusively to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Visitors to the museum can also learn about Islamic history, which explains how people lived before and after Islam was introduced.
Things to discover at Hejaz Railway Museum
1. Model of Hejaz Railway Museum building
Upon entering the museum, the visitors will first see the miniature model of the Hejaz Railway Museum. It is one of the exciting things in the museum that shows details of the museum building and the surrounding area. Tourists can spot numerous attractions of the mosque in a fun and informative way.
2. Historical photographs
The exhibition at the Hejaz Railway Museum includes a collection of rare historical photographs and graphic galleries that depict how Madinah has evolved. A few photographs on display depict the city’s historic markets and how people used to live at the time. It also features an old photograph of Al Masjid An Nabawi, widely known as the Mosque of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Other photographs are of various historical sites in the city.
3. Bow of Saad ibn Abi Waqqas
One of the most impressive artifacts on display in the museum is the real bow of Saad ibn Abi Waqqas, who was the companion of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Saad ibn Abi Waqqas is considered the first person to have shot an arrow with the bow to defend Islam. It is said that Saad used his bow and arrow to protect the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) during the battle of Uhud.
4. Model of Haram Al Sharif
The historical exhibition in the museum also consists of a model of Haram Al Sharif. The model beautifully depicts the features and other significant elements of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. It provides vital information about the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of Rock in the middle.
5. Visual display of Al Masjid An Nabawi Mosque
A hall in the museum provides information about Al Masjid An Nabawi Mosque by exhibiting numerous visuals that illustrate the history through different times and eras. The display begins with the construction of the Mosque during the era of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and ends with the second Saudi expansion. It shows how the Mosque has changed throughout time.
6. Things are made up of rocks
Several ancient everyday use items dating back centuries can be found in the museum. Buckets of rocks for carrying water and large stone bowls for crushing grains are among the utensils found here. A giant round stone used as a grinder made of volcanic rocks is also on display in the museum.
7. Utensils used in past centuries
The museum also houses numerous ancient utensils from previous centuries. Old traditional utensils include a jar for serving kahwa, a kettle for preparing coffee, perfume bottles, and various other plates and bowls. There is also a large and small ceramic container used for storing water that keeps the water cool for an extended period of time.
8. Stones with inscriptions
Several stones with Islamic inscriptions dating back centuries can be found in the museum. The writings on those stones are mostly taken from the Quran. A stone also includes the inscription from Al Sewaidera (Al Madinah) dating back to 8 AD. Inscriptions are so clear that a person can easily read them.
Hejaz Railway Museum general information
Hejaz Railway Museum location: Omar Ibn Al Khattab road, Al Saqia, Madinah
Railway Museum timings: Saturday to Thursday, 9 am to 9 pm; and on Friday, 5 pm to 9 pm.
Hejaz Railway Museum ticket price: Entry is free.
How to reach the Hejaz Railway Museum: Hejaz Railway Museum is close to Al Masjid An Nabawi Mosque and 25 kilometers from Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport; thus, taxis are readily available.
Suggested Read: Top 12 Museums Of Saudi Arabia To Visit With Family
History of Hejaz Railway
Initially, the primary purpose of building the Hejaz railway was the transportation of pilgrims from Damascus in Syria to the city of Madinah. Construction of the whole railway line took 8 years, from 1900 to 1908. The Ottomans were the ones who funded the construction under the order of Sultan Abdulhameed II. The work was carried out by German and Turkish engineers and other laborers recruited from the areas along the route. The terrain presented several challenges during the construction, especially between Tabuk and Madinah. Between Al Ula and Haddiya, several small and mid-sized stations were built. The larger stations were built near Madinah.
The first train arrived in Madinah on 22nd August 1908. A grand ceremony was held on 1st December, marking the arrival of the train and the anniversary of the sultan’s accession. The railway station was illuminated and it was the first time electricity was used in Madinah. There were plans to expand the railway line to Makkah and across Jordan’s Red Sea coast. However, all of these efforts to extend the Hejaz Railway were halted by the start of World War I.
Destruction of Hejaz Railway
During World War 1, the Hejaz Railway line was used by the Germans and Turks for oil transportation. As a result, the railway line was attacked several times and got heavily damaged by Arab rebels and British soldiers during the Arab revolt. The British officer TE Lawrence led the attacks, also known as ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’
On 26 March 1917, an attack was led by TE Lawrence on the Aba el Naam Station. The attack was so severe that it severely damaged the opposite side and the railway station. Later in July 1917, another major attack led by Stewart Newcombe was carried out on Al Akhdhar station by the British, Egyptian, and Indian forces. A series of attacks on the railway line resulted in the capture of Tabuk by Arab rebels and the destruction of locomotives.
Hejaz Railway Museum is a great place to experience the rich history of Madinah and the railway station. It provides a plethora of details about how railways evolved in the region during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. Visitors coming to the museum can have a glimpse of the history related to Islam. The bow of Saad ibn Abi Waqqas, which he used to protect Prophet Mohammad, is one of the museum’s major attractions.
Suggested Read: Dar Al Madinah Museum: Depicting The History Of Medina
Hejaz Railway Museum FAQs
Is a camera allowed inside the museum?
Yes, visitors are permitted to bring cameras into the museum and take photos or record videos.
Is the Hejaz Railway Museum open every day?
Yes, Hejaz Railway Museum is open every day for visitors.
How far is Hejaz Railway Museum from Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport?
Hejaz Railway Museum is 25 km away from Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport.
Does the museum have old train engines and tracks?
Yes, the museum has a courtyard with old train engines and tracks; however, it is not open to the public.
Is there a mosque near Hejaz Railway Museum?
Anbariya Mosque is located very close to the Hejaz Railway Museum.