Historical fort unlocks Bahrain’s rich history


Away from the gleaming skyscrapers and modern landscape of Manama, it is possible to go back in time with a visit to one of Bahrain’s most famous historical sites.
The long-standing Bahrain Fort (Qal’at Al-Bahrain) tells the story of 4,500 years of history. It was previously referred to as the Portuguese fort, having been a military defense base for Portuguese inhabitants.
This national monument, which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, was considered the capital of the Dilmun Empire. It was the center of commercial activities with maritime trade between the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia in ancient times, and China and the Mediterranean between the third and 16th century.
The fort is adjacent to the northern coast of Bahrain island. Its strategic location made it a hub for economic and political activity in the region.
In 1954, excavations in the area uncovered items buried several layers underground, dating from 2300 BCE to the 18th century.
According to the UNESCO, the site and its surroundings, including a sea tower assumed to be an early lighthouse, and palm groves, are thought to have formed the basis of agricultural trading. Inhabitants came from Portugal, Persia, and parts of modern-day Iraq.
The best time to visit this archaeological site is late afternoon, when the sunshine is tamed and the rays of light gently find their way through the alleyways and underneath the arches, forming a magical fusion between light and shadow, bringing out the beauty of the colors of the limestone and coral blocks.
On the way out, it is worth wandering around the on-site museum, which was founded in 2008. It showcases a collection of pottery work and unearthed findings that represent five historical periods, sorted chronologically in separate galleries.