The Qala’at Al Bahrain
January 15, 2013 § Leave a comment
Manama has been named the Capital of Arab Tourism for 2013. I will be highlighting some of our tourist attractions and amenities from time to time on my blog.
Located on the northern coast of Bahrain, in a western suburb of Manama, Qala’at Al Bahrain is the country’s main archaeological site and a popular tourist attraction for its mix of geography, history, and picturesque location. Also known as Bahrain Fort or Fort of Bahrain, it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Qala’at al-Bahrain is a typical tell – an artificial mound created by many successive layers of human occupation, which testify to continuous human presence from about 2300 BC to the 16th century AD. Atop the five layers of civilization, which go as far back as 3000 BC, sits a 16th-century fort, which gives the site its name. Only about 25% of the site has been excavated so far, revealing different types of residential, public, commercial, religious and military structures.
The site is notably the former harbor and capital of Dilmun, one of the most important ancient civilizations in the Gulf region. Dilmun has been referenced in Sumerian documents, and it was described as paradise in the ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh. It remained an important trading port over the centuries, and a meeting point of cultures, spanning the Tylos, later Islamic societies and the Portuguese period.
The site is complemented by a brilliantly designed museum, exhibiting numerous artifacts that were dug up there, including pottery vessels, burial jars, jewelry, and silver coins. There is also a cafe with a seaside terrace offering one of the best views in Bahrain, overlooking the fortress and the harbor.