This month, we celebrate the rich history and heritage of Bahrain with some of its best cultural hotspots. FACT’s Aanchal Duggal rounds up our favourite gems…


QAL’AT AL BAHRAIN
A stunning representation of Bahrain’s rich history, Qal’at al Bahrain – or more popularly known as Bahrain Fort – was an important trading port throughout the centuries. Once the capital of Dilmun, one of the most important ancient civilisations of the region, the archaeological tell is brimming with historical inventories. The site is especially gorgeous when it’s lit up in the evening and you’re like to see everything from impromptu horse rides to locals getting their daily steps in. A must-visit for anyone looking to explore Bahrain, this is where the old really meets the modern, making for remarkable images.
GO: Call 1756 7172 for more information.

ARAD FORT
Built in the typical style of Islamic forts during the 15th century, Arad Fort is one of the oldest archaeological sites in Bahrain. Offering stunning sea views of Muharraq and its surrounding shores, the fort is extensively renovated and is located right next to Seef Mall Muharraq (excellent to go and walk around after lunch or dinner) and close to Bahrain International Airport. Visit at nighttime for the scenic views as well as beautiful lighting around the museum.
GO: Call 1729 8777 for more information.

RIFFA FORT
Offering stunning architecture and gorgeous views, Riffa Fort is a sight to behold. Featuring three elaborate rectangular chambers, each with an independent court, the fort held great strategical importance up until 1869. Enjoy a decadent traditional Bahraini breakfast at Saffron Restaurant as you capture sweeping views of the weathered limestone rock that makes up Hunanaiya valley. Don’t forget to take a picture in the traditional arched doorway!
GO: Call 1729 8777 for more information.

BARBAR TEMPLE
Not quite a fort but definitely a landmark that carries significance. One of Bahrain’s greatest treasures, the Barbar Temple is among the most remarkable architectural survivals of the ancient world. An ode to the country’s impressive history, the site features three temples built on top of each other and contains two altars and a natural water spring. Take a stroll through the breathtaking ruins of the temples as you immerse yourself in the country’s vibrant history.
GO: Visit www.culture.gov.bh for more information.

SHAIKH ISA BIN ALI HOUSE
A beautiful contrast to the high-rises and fast-paced modern society, Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House is a rare royal residential treasure. Home to the ruler of Bahrain Shaikh Essa bin Ali Alkhalifa from 1869 to 1932, the old historical home is very well preserved and gives an interesting insight into Middle Eastern architecture. Capture the insta-worthy gorgeousness as you take a glimpse into 19th-century royal life.
GO: Visit www.culture.gov.bh for more information.

BAB AL BAHRAIN/MANAMA SOUQ
The ideal spot to indulge in some shopping and soak in the island’s abundant culture, Bab Al Bahrain provides a beautiful façade to what lies within. From traditional Arabic coffee to quality fabrics, small trinkets and gifts as well as some of the best street food and juice stands in town – this famous landmark is home to tons of shops to please all your needs. You’ll easily while away the hours in search of something special – maybe an antique or the perfect abaya? Or, you’ll simply window shop and people watch – both excellent ways to appreciate the bustle of this buzzing area.
GO: Call 1729 8777 for more information.

MUHARRAQ SOUQ
One of our all-time favourite places on the island, the atmospheric Muharraq Souq offers the true essence of Bahraini culture. The second largest souq in Bahrain, it is your one-stop shop for everything from authentic Bahraini breakfast and tea to jewellery and an array of spices. Its old-world charm, traditional elements and amazing deals make it the perfect weekend escape for this visiting and wanting to see a genuine side of Bahrain!
GO: Visit www.culture.gov.bh for more information.

 

AL JASRA HANDICRAFTS CENTRE
Tucked away in the village of Jasra, the Al Jasra Handicrafts Centre is considered one of the most important of its kind in Bahrain. Surrounded by lush greenery and breathtaking views, the handicrafts centre showcases pottery making, cloth weaving, woodworking, basket weaving, and sadow making. Learn about the country’s great past as you explore industries and crafts that were practiced by the ancestors.
GO: Call 1761 1900 for more information.

BAHRAIN WORLD TRADE CENTRE
Designed by the multi-national architectural firm Atkins, Bahrain World Trade Centre is the first skyscraper in the world to integrate wind turbines into its design. An iconic landmark situated at the heart of the leading financial and business hub, the state-of-theart structure comprises two 44-storey sail shaped office towers, the five-star Sheraton Bahrain Hotel, and the luxury shopping complex, Moda Mall. It’s a modern-day reminder that Bahrain is also moving with the times!
GO: Call 1332 3332 for more information.

DILMUN BURIAL MOUNDS
Adding to the unique heritage of Bahrain, the Dilmun Burial Mounds are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the largest cemeteries in the ancient world, it features a number of globally unique characteristics. The tombs’ density, scale as well as details of the burial chambers are a proof of Bahrain’s distinguished cultural heritage. Walking around the im-pressive area at sunset is an experience on its own!
GO: Visit www.culture.gov.bh for more information.

TREE OF LIFE
Have you even seen Bahrain if you haven’t been down to the Tree of Life? Part of the country’s one of a kind cultural landscape, the Tree of Life is a wonder that deserves to be seen. Attracting approximately 50,000 tourists per year, the Sharajatal-Hayat or Tree of Life has stood the test of time in a brutally harsh climate for 400 years. Take in the sights of this unusual spectacle as you ponder over the tree’s mysterious existence in the desert.
GO: Visit www.culture.gov.bh for more information.

ROYAL CAMEL FARM
A truly unique and wholesome experience, the Royal Camel Farm gives visitors an insight into a treasured element of Bahraini culture. Home to over 600 camels of all ages and sizes, the farm was created as a means of preserving camels, and traditions related to the animal, in Bahrain. Go and visit for some adorable playtime with the elegant creatures where you can get up close and personal with baby camels and even feed them and the ‘rents freely as you walk through the sprawling farm. This is one for a picture op!
GO: Call 1788 1188 for more information.

MOUNTAIN OF SMOKE
A lesser-known cultural icon but not in the least insignificant, the highest point in Bahrain is the Mountain of Smoke (often referred to as Jebel Al Dukhan) atop a hill located in the southern part of the island. The mountain gets its name from an atmospheric phenomenon when the humidity reaches high levels in and around coastal areas. Go and explore the surrounding caves, hike up the hill or partake in some camping with your friends and family in the open area.
GO: Visit www.culture.gov.bh for more information.

SHAIKH EBRAHIM CENTRE
An amazing insight into the local culture and historical happenings in Bahrain, Shaikh Ebrahim Centre is the country’s art and intellectual hub. Established to encourage dialogue between people in philosophy, literature, poetry, culture and the arts, Shaikh Ebrahim Centre has hosted over 200 speakers, philosophers, poets and thinkers. Immerse yourself in cultural utopia and take a trip down the island’s ancestral memory lane.
GO: Call 1732 2549 for more information.

BUSAAD ART GALLERY
Set in a wonderfully restored 1930s house, Busaad Art Gallery offers a breathtaking collection of relatively modern art. Fusing old with the new, the gallery showcases a varied blend of artworks including abstract paintings, representational figurative work, calligraphy and sculptures. A work of art and a major architectural landmark, Busaad Art Gallery is definitely worth a visit for the true art enthusiasts out there.
GO: Call 1700 0020 for more information.

 

BIN MATAR HOUSE
Designed by the well-known Bahraini architect Mussa Bin Hamad and built in 1905, Bin Matar House was used by Salman bin Hussein Matar as the venue for his permanent majlis. By the 1940s, it was used as a clinic by the famous physician Dr. Bandar Kab, and from the 1950s to the 1980s, the site was used as the centre for the Eslah Club. Today, Bin Matar House hosts a number of art exhibitions, workshops and Spring of Culture events. Now, imagine the stories rooted in this place… if only walls could speak!
GO: Call 1732 2549 for more information.

A’ALI POTTERY WORKSHOPS
A relaxing and interactive activity, pottery is the perfect way to unwind and de-stress. Using traditional methods that have been passed on from generation to generation, Bahrain is home to a number of authentic pottery workshops. Treat your eyes to the fascinating ancient techniques displayed by the potters to create their masterpieces, try your hand at some pottery or take your pick from the beautifully designed authentic creations.
GO: Call 3985 6994 for more information.

SIYADI HOUSE
Created by one of Bahrain’s leading grand pearl merchant families, the Siyadi House is the first component of a complex that includes three buildings. Further including a mosque and a majlis, the site is also a part of the Bahraini Pearling Trail. Go and explore decorations of the late pearling era of Bahrain, in particular the room inside the Siyadi Majlis.
GO: Call 3323 3521 for more information.

AL FATEH GRAND MOSQUE
One of the largest mosques in the world, the beautiful Al Fateh Grand Mosque is architectural aesthetic at its finest. Crafted with handpicked materials from all over the world, it is capable of holding up to 7000 worshippers at a time. There are daily tours available with dedicated guides – perfect for a group outing and to learn more about Bahrain from its deepest perspective. Be aware that tours are not available on a Friday or public holidays and certain religious etiquette is required, so make sure that you plan ahead.
GO: Call 1772 7773 for more information.

BAHRAIN NATIONAL MUSEUM
The ultra-modern building is the perfect tranquil setting for appreciating Bahrain’s past and celebrating its culture. The museum houses plenty of artefacts that underpin the history of the island as well as special exhibitions throughout the year. The wide-open spaces encourage leisurely strolls, while the chic and comfortable museum terrace offers stunning views of the Bahrain National Theatre. A satellite map of the entire country adorns the floor of the museum and one of the most fun things to do is trying to find the places you are familiar with! There’s the fabulous Darseen Cafe too, which serves up amazing breakfast.
GO: Call 1729 8777 for more information.

BEIT AL QURAN
This beautiful building plays host to the history of the Quran, showing Quranic manuscripts and scriptures that date back to the 7th century as well as a variety of art exhibitions. Home to an impressive collection of the Holy Book, manuscripts and art from all over the world, it is a must-see for anyone visiting Bahrain. It also has a small mosque and a library!
GO: Call 1729 0101 for more information.

AL SAKHIR PALACE
A striking reminder of Bahrain’s rich culture and history, Al Sakhir Palace is a destination you do not want to miss! The palace’s magnificent Islamic architecture and design are reflected in its white colour, columns, dome and minaret. Today, Al Sakhir Palace hosts an array of important occasions as well as visits of influential political figures to the Kingdom.
GO: Visit www.culture.gov.bh for more information.

 

BAHRAIN PEARLING
TRAIL The Bahrain Pearling Trail is the world’s last remaining site that provides a complete example of the pearling tradition. The 3.5km trail includes 17 buildings around the city of Muharraq, as well as three offshore oyster beds, part of the seashore and the Bu Maher fort. This exciting historical excursion will take you down the path of the pearl divers and showcase the lifestyle they followed before the discovery of oil.
GO: Visit www.culture.gov.bh for more information.


For all the Latest arts, culture and entertainment news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Instagram, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page , which are updated daily.