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Article Index
Bahrain's must-see attractions
Museums and forts
Religion and culture
Heritage homes
Arts and crafts
Souvenir shopping
Other attractions

National Museum

Take a fascinating journey back in time. Situated on the intersection of the Shaikh Hamad Manama-Muharraq causeway and King Faisal Highway, Bahrain National Museum isn’t quite walking distance from Bab Al Bahrain but is just minimum fare if you take a taxi.

Built in 1988, the $34 million complex offers a comprehensive view of Bahrain through the ages. Arguably the most interesting of the exhibits in nine halls is a reconstructed ancient burial mound dating to around 2800 BC. The mound was actually plucked from the desert and reassembled in the museum.

Other fascinating exhibits depict life in the Dilmun era, 19th- and 20th-century pearl-diving scenes as well as community life. The museum is a virtual treasurehouse of history, and trust us when we say that even a day is too short to take in everything on display. All in all, this is one visit you’ll be telling friends about for a long, long time.

For more information, call 1729 8777.

 

Beit Al Quran

Museum devoted to Islamic Holy Book. Beit al Quran (quite literally, House of the Quran) is a unique museum, dedicated solely to the Holy Book and works of art inspired by it. The museum itself has distinctively Islamic architecture. Don’t miss peeking into the modest mosque and looking at the beautiful rotunda.

Many copies of the Quran you’ll see are works of art themselves including an illuminated 12th-century Persian masterpiece or a gold-lettered, eight-sided 16th-century edition.

Some miniature copies of the Quran fit into the palm of the hand and Quranic verses have even been inscribed on a grain of rice.

Call 1729 0404 for more information.

 

Al Oraifi Museum

 

Brush up on art of the Dilmun era. Leading artist Rashid Al Oraifi’s museum is devoted to the art and artefacts of the Dilmun era. Over 100 works of art, including sculptures, from the period are on display. One of the major attractions is his own paintings of the era for which he uses a special technique to give them a period effect.

The building itself lies on a reinforced concrete frame that in turn rests on sea stones, traditionally used in Bahrain.

Decorative gypsum designs cover the walls and window frames, and a central courtyard paved with locally made bricks and enhanced with bronze sculptures adds to the sense of openness of the overall design. For more information, call 1733 5616.

 

The Oil Museum

Well, that’s a first! Where else in the world would you find a museum dedicated to oil? Bahrain was the first country in the Gulf where oil was struck, in 1932, and the museum allows you to trace the discovery of what’s become the region’s best-known export.

Exhibits at the museum include drilling equipment, photographs and a working model of an oil rig. Nearby is the famous – and aptly named – Oil Well No. 1, now almost a museum piece itself.

 

Bahrain Fort

Seven layers of history. Historically, this is one of Bahrain’s most important sites. The fort itself was built in the 14th century by the Portuguese but excavations at the site reveal six other distinct eras of the place, dating back to the Dilmun era, or around 3000 BC during which time it may have been the island’s capital.

 

Arad Fort

Impressive by day or night. This 15th-century fort, built in Arabic style, was occupied by the Portuguese for nearly a century. Close to the airport, the structure is illuminated at night. By day, visitors like to amble over its expansive esplanade and climb the steps to the observation towers.

 

Riffa Fort

Splendid view across the valley. Built in 1812, the fort offers a splendid view across Hunanaiya valley. Until 1869, the site was the seat of government and a strategic location in its day. It is believed the fort was built on the ruins of a castle dating back to 1698.