|Museums and period homes|
Bahrain National Museum: a must-see
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 a 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.
Beit al Qu'ran: Unique museum
Beit al Qur’an (House of the Qur’an) 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 Qur’an 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 Qur’an fit into the palm of the hand or Qur’anic verses have been inscribed on a grain of rice.
Al Jasra House: Royal birthplace
Built in 1907, using local materials, this was the birthplace, in 1933, of the late Amir, Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa. One of the most fascinating rooms is one where dates used to be piled in palm-woven baskets and left to ripen. The weight would make the dates at the bottom gradually surrender their nectar which would then be piped into jars and used for cooking.
Al Siyadi House: A patrician home
A short stroll from Shaikh Isa’s house in Muharraq is the Siyadi house which belonged to a pearl merchant in the 19th century. Today, only a small part of the immense residence exists. Climb the steps to the top floor where a salon and antechambre have remarkable ceiling and wall designs, also using mirrors to splendid effect.
Shaikh Isa House: period home
Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, the King’s great-great-grandfather, was sovereign from 1869 to 1932, the longest reign of a Bahrain ruler. His home in Muharraq provides a glimpse of royal life in the 19th century with period architecture and wall carvings. It’s also one of the best places to feel the amazing effects of the windtower. The house is divided into four sections, each with a courtyard using a bed of tiny seashells to cover the ground.
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.
Also in this section:
Off the Beaten Track
Arts, Crafts and Heritage