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Qalat al Bahrain site and museum

 

   

 

Known as Dilmun in ancient times, Bahrain’s rich trading history is reflected in numerous archaeological sites, the most fascinating of which is the Bahrain Fort site that is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The fort is located atop a 17.5 hectare artificial hill that has been built over more than 4000 years of continuous occupation. It is the site of the former capital of Dilmun and one of the most archaeological sites in the Arabian Gulf. The excavations over the past 50 years have revealed residential, public, commercial and military structures that testify to the importance of the site over the centuries. These findings are brought to life by an audioguide available at the site museum.

Open to the public since 2008, the site museum display area consists of exhibition halls organized around a massive Tell Wall. With 500 artefacts showcased, the long settlement history of the site is evoked to the unique backdrop of the wall, which recreates the different archaeological layers uncovered at the site. The seaside café of the museum offers a stunningview over the fort and the surrounding palm groves.

 


 

Block 338

 

   

 

Located in the heart of Adliya, Block 338 is a charming pedestrian quartercrammed with international restaurants, art galleries and small boutiques.As Bahrain’s hot dining district, Block 338 offers a wide range of restaurantsappealing to all ages and tastes, be it for a fancy meal, traditional Bahrainidish or just a soothing drink. In addition to this distinguished eatingexperience, Block 338 boasts a number of good retail opportunities tuckedinto its side streets and has grown over the years into a vibrant space for thearts. It is here that Al Riwaq Gallery exhibits the works of emerging artistsfrom Bahrain and the region intercepted by exhibitions by internationalartists. Its cool little café is a also a popular attraction.Other nearby places of interest:Al Bareh Gallery can be found in the opposite corner of Adliya. A notable
private arts centre, it hosts exhibitions by leading regional artists. A diverseprogramme of exhibitions runs throughout the year in the airy art gallerywhile an adjoining space is devoted to a not-for-profit initiative, ABCAD.Devoted to experimentation, ABCAD breaks art out of its human confinesthrough workshops, design-focused film nights and an outdoor graffiti wall. There is also a café with outdoor and indoor seating.

 


 

Bab al Bahrain

 

   

 

Situated at the entrance of the Manama Suq, Bab al Bahrain was builtin 1949 and housed the government offices at the time. Once righton the sea front, Bab al Bahrain was extensively restored in the 1980s,significantly transforming the building. Currently, it is undergoing anothertransformation which will seek to bring it back to its former state, withsome modifications. The Central Post Office building, positioned acrossthe roundabout from the Bab al Bahrain building, is envisaged to be relocated
within the square’s perimeter.Bab al Bahrain is a gateway to the Manama Suq which offers Bahrain’smost traditional shopping experience. Within its atmosphericalleyways, the Kingdom’s exotic items from natural-oil perfumes andincense, rich fabrics and handicrafts, abayas and jalabiyas to intricatecarpets can be found.

 


 

Bahrain National Museum

 

   

 

One of the first museums in the Gulf, the Bahrain National Museum openedin 1988. The site itself, on the edge of the sea, is a tremendous attraction,adding to its contemporary ambience which is influenced by the whitetravertine façade and dramatic courtyard decorated with contemporary sculptures. The exhibition halls showcase artefacts uncovered inthe numerous archaeological sites in Bahrain and underpinning thelongstanding history of the island. The rich collection covers 6000 yearsof Bahrain’s history. In addition to the archaeological exhibits, two hallsare dedicated to local customs and traditions, featuring clothing, housing,rituals and traditional crafts. Moreover, the art hall features a permanent collection of works by some of Bahrain’s leading artists as well as regularlyhosting temporary exhibitions.
Adjacent to the National Museum can be seen the Art Centre and CulturalHall, both of which host temporary exhibitions and concerts throughout theyear. A new addition to this cultural compound is the recently inauguratedArab Regional Centre for World Heritage.

 


 

Old Houses of Muharraq

 

   

 

Muharraq, the former capital of Bahrain, is known for its cultural splendour and traditional Bahraini houses litter the town’s narrow lanes. The Shaikh Isa bin Ali house is Bahrain’s most impressive example of Gulf Islamic architecture featuring four courtyards and beautiful carved wooden doors and perforated gypsum panels. The beautifully restored houses that make up the Shaikh Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research provide an important insight into aspects of Bahrain’s heritage. From embroidery at Kurar House to pearling history at the Bin Matar House, the former home of a renowned pearl merchant, the houses reflect the Centre’s commitment to the preservation of both traditional architecture and history. The Shaikh Ebrahim lecture hall, Iqra Children’s Library, Heraf al Diyar, Nukhida House (the first house to be restored along the pearling trail), Kurar House, Abdullah al Zayed House, House of Coffee, Bin Matar House, Bu Zaboon House and Mohammed Bin Faris House all showcase different aspects of Bahrain’s rich heritage. Hosting regular art exhibitions and film screenings in the old city is Maison Jamsheer, another example of the traditional courtyard houses and which is situated a stone’s throw away from the Shaikh Ebrahim Centre.

 


 

Suq al Qaisariya

 

   

 

One of the oldest sections of the Muharraq Suq, Suq al Qaisariya offers acharming shopping experience. Currently undergoing extensive restorationwork by the Ministry of Culture, the first phase of the project, which hasbeen completed, features a number of renovated shops, selling a varietyof products ranging from pearls to spices and tea, as well as a traditional café - café Zaafaran – arranged around a number of historic madbassahs.

Since antiquity, Bahrain has been famed for its natural pearls which werehighly sought after for their unique colour and lustre (the result of formingat the confluence between fresh underwater springs and the salty sea).Cultured pearls are banned in Bahrain and every pearl purchased locallycomes with a certificate of authenticity.
Suq al Qaisariya is an integral component of the “Pearling, testimonyof an island” project. This Pearling trail is approximately 2 miles longand describes the unique story of pearling in Bahrain and its physicaltestimony. Now considered by UNESCO for a World Heritage listing, thispearling heritage and testimony to a remarkable industry and economy isnot presented in one location but as a trail, a path that one can traversein order to discover different elements of the overall narrative. Takingits visitors from the beach to the old house of one of Bahrain’s grand merchants, the pathway illustrates, in images and sounds, the precioushistory of Bahrain and its people.

 


 

Dar Islands

 

   

 

Central to life in Bahrain for centuries, pearl diving has to be the quintessentialBahraini experience. The beach resort of Al Dar Island offersregular pearl dives and cruises to Jarada Island where you might findyourself sunbathing on the spit of white sand and bobbing in its clearwaters all on your own. In addition to pearls, you can also get the chanceto see up to 30 types of coral and more than 200 species of fish. Dolphinwatching along the many surrounding coral reefs is another popularpastime and they are best spotted at sunrise or sunset.

A day excursion to the pearl reefs is a lot of fun. Take a dhow trip for aneven more authentic experience. You can order Arabic food and pearldiverswill regale you with their tales of the high-seas.

For the wildlife enthusiast, a 45-minute ferry ride from Al Dur Jetty to HawarIsland is a must. The Hawar Islands are renowned as a wildlife preserveof international significance and offer a pristine beach and a chance tospot dolphins and rare birds thanks to their position in the middle of theirmigratory path.

 


 

Bahrain International Circuit

 

   

 

Even if you are not a motor-race fan, you will be caught up in the thrill and excitement of the planet’s biggest race event, Formula One, during its Bahrain season. But when the Formula 1 Grand Prix isn’t taking centre stage at the Bahrain International Circuit, you can take the wheel yourself on its state-of-the-art karting track or enjoy a thrilling ride in the passenger seat of a Hummer on its Extreme 4x4 course. A visit to the Circuit is a must as you may also get to test drive some of the race cars on the F1 track. Alternatively, enjoy driving of a different kind at the 18-hole Colin Montgomery-designed Royal Golf Course, where you can even play golf at night thanks to the floodlit greens.

 


 

 Bait al Quran

   

 

Housed in a spectacular Arabic script engraved building, this distinguished museum showcases a significant collection of Quranic manuscripts and scriptures dating back to the 7th century. Many copies of the Quran you will see are works of art in themselves. Some miniature copies can fit in the palm of the hand and Quranic verses have even been inscribed on a grain of rice. In addition to its important historical collection, Bait al Quran exhibition space often hosts varied art exhibitions while housing a small mosque, distinguished library and learning environment for Islamic teaching.