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Bahrain : The complete guide for visitors and expatriates - Local architecture is music for the eyes
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Article Index
Local architecture is music for the eyes
Building through the ages
Back to the basics
The courtyard in the middle
Cooling the house
Entrance and windows
Majlis and harim
Importance of family
Survival of the fittest
Old houses of Muharraq


The entrance and the windows

The main entrance was often large, even monumental. The door was decorated with detailed carvings. If there were any windows facing the outside of the building, they were usually on the second floor and screened.

Any ground level windows were smaller and grilled; they were also placed near the ceiling-level to secure the privacy of the family.

Most openings were small and towards the inner courtyard. The windows had shutters to keep both the direct sunshine as well as the cooler winter air out.

Detailed ornamentation

Given the fact that there aren't many trees growing in the area, the quality and detail of the woodwork is amazing. This can be seen especially in the old doors and windows and window shutters, where beautiful geometric patterns have been used.

(A small sidepath to the naval architecture here: much of the old woodcrafting skills are still in use when they build the dhows, the wooden boats used in the same form for centuries to ship merchandise overseas - and still going strong).

The same applies also to the walls of the buildings, which were richly decorated with these delicate patterns.

The use of old Islamic motifs has been on the rise recently, as can be seen from the walls of some new, beautiful mosques and also in some new shopping complexes.