Today, the visitor can wander through a maze of walls, houses, and palaces, some more diligently restored than others. Indeed, some have been, in my view, over-restored, to the point that adobe walls have been coated with a plastic resin that fairly glistens in the sun. On the other hand, this is one place in the area where you can take pictures with impunity; signs actually invite visitors to do so, although they do forbid video cameras -- or at least did when I was last there.
Architecturally, the site is very plain, befitting the traditional Bedu insistance on simplicity. There is little decoration, beyond triangular holes in walls that promoted air circulation through the buildings and helped divert rainfall run-off so that it didn't pour off in one particular place thereby compromising the solidity of the adobe. You will also find wooden doors and doorways decorated with simple, geometric designs executed in resin mixed with earth. Builders also created textural designs on the surface of walls, which is often no more than squiggles in the plaster made with their fingers.
November 29, 2001
From journal Riyadh, the Saudi Capital