Bahrain consists of about 30 islands, most of which are uninhabited desert. The largest island, also called Bahrain, is rocky and barren in the south, but in the north the many springs have helped green the land. Bridges join the main islands and a causeway links Bahrain Island to Saudi Arabia.
Most Bahrainis are Muslim Arabs and live in the fertile north of the largest island. Traditional occupations include fishing, pearl diving, tending animals, and growing fruits such as pomegranates and figs on irrigated land. Since the discovery of oil in 1932, many people have taken jobs in the petroleum industry and live in or near the capital.
Here are the top ten not to be missed places in Bahrain.
Al – Fatih Mosque (The Great Mosque)
For a country with a short history of independence, the
is a symbol of a certain stage of development. About the Great Mosque, one can say that it is already part of the historical heritage of Bahrain. She looks fresh, light, inspiring, airy and pleasant around a lot of places. Admission is free, but with the necessary rules (no shoes inside, modest clothes, observe silence, women must wear hijab or cover their hair, and men must not wear shorts). Pass through the information center first for any additional knowledge that you need to know regarding the rules of the mosque. It is a fine example of religious architecture. The center will provide an excellent guided tour that is absolutely free of charge.
The short tour is filled with all kinds of information about the building and the faith. You can safely take pictures and walk around the structure. The building can hold 4,000 worshipers and is quite easier than the giant mosque in Abu Dhabi, with which it is often compared. At the end of the tour you will be given not only a selection of religious scriptures but also an orange juice (tetra pack). Formal clothing should conform to the regulations of the mosque, but if necessary you can have a national garb on the center, just completely free but a small donation will not hurt and will definitely help in the upkeep of the mosque.
Bahrain National Museum
Bahrain National Museum
is one of the best places in Manama, the capital city. This lovely modern building on the shore of a small bay just beckons. Passing through a small park, you get to the square sculptures which looked very unusual for these places. The gilded dome is the landmark of the museum. It is open every day except critical state and religious holidays, from 8 am to 8 pm. Tickets cost 1 dinar (about 2.65 dollars or 85 rubles.). Exposure is very rich and well laid out with artifacts from ancient history to the present day. There is a chic collection of all possible copies of the Qur’an in expensive inlay. It shows a typical Bahraini house with all its contents.
There are marvelous displays of pearls, which are only produced here, and of skeletons in pots. There are paintings by contemporary artists and temporary exhibitions. There are items that came from Russia that is also proudly displayed in the ground floor area. The indoor Cafe is perhaps one of the best in the city, overlooking the neighboring island of Muharraq. The museum is very close to a super-modern building, which is a theater. There are world famous artists that performed there such as Placido Domingo and international ballet troupes.
Qalat al Bahrain
Qalat al Bahrain
is located near the sea and stands just across the Bahrain National Museum.
The ancient archaeological site (since 2005 it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage archaeological sites), consists of an artificial hill formed by successive layers between 2,300 BC and the sixteenth century. On top of this hill, a dozen meters high is an impressive fortress of the Portuguese era; it is from this structure that is the name of al-qal’at Bahrayn (“Qal’a” in Arabic literally means fortress) was originally taken.
This place is a testament to the archaic culture Dilmun (it was the capital), one of the most important ancient civilizations of the region. Facing the sea, it was a thriving trading port over the centuries. Now it is a place where you can observe, admire, and be amused at the phenomenon of the tides. At the time it was dug about 25% of the qal’at-Bahrayn resurfaced, bringing the light structures of different types: housing, public buildings, commercial, religious and military. It is definitely worth a visit along with the nearby museum.
The oldest fort has a great view of downtown Manama on the horizon, with the skyscrapers in plain sight. Not far from the Fort there is the Seef Mall, a nice mall to satisfy the cravings of shopping after visiting this historic place.
Bahrain International Circuit
Bahrain residents are proud of their race track and they should be as it is one of the best in the world. The
Bahrain International Circuit (BIC)
breathes the speed and the general atmosphere of the race in its well paved circuit. A guide can accompany you to the important parts of the race track complex. In the Race Control, the complete track can be found on dozens of screens. You can also visit the media center where during the race; the journalists and sports analysts sit and deliver their reports.
Even in the VIP Tower (the lounge reserved for the sheiks and the millionaires), one has a sweeping panoramic view of the track. And more especially cool is that you can be able to walk to the racetrack, and have fun with it like walk barefoot and take photographs at the finish line. There is a little shop in there too where you can buy a racing car shirt. Everything is spacious and well designed and therefore not crowded. Overall, it is very interesting to discover. It is not surprising that the circuit called “Sahir” is emblazoned on the local banknote denominations of 1 dinar made in honor of the BIC.
Beit al Quran
Beit al Quran
is the best place for people who want to know the history of Islam and its sacred book. It is a small museum in which are preserved various copies or portions of copies of the sacred text of Islam. Some are really embellished with decorations and more impressive for their size. As the captions on the bulletin boards are bilingual (Arabic and English), the help of a guide allows you to learn that curiosity is worth knowing. Well worth a visit by anyone who wants to learn and understand the faith.
It is also inspiring to see how hardworking the Qur’an calligraphers and Islamic art painters pour their effort in preserving the place. This religious museum is interesting and the presence of genuine masterpieces of decorative arts and publishing from different countries made it look more mystical and charming. Come see what the wizard created from Arab countries, Iran, India, and even Russia. Whoever put together this collection has a terrific taste and knows what’s in this beauty and harmony all wrapped up in one place. Although it is a small museum, but it takes 3 hours or more If you look at each one.
Bab el-Bahrain Souk
Bab el-Bahrain Souk
is a big market, which is located in the heart of Manama right next to the row of modern skyscrapers. Indians and Pakistanis live work here and provide the market with its special flair. Everywhere it smells different, especially after the fragrance of oriental spices and delicious Asian food mix in the air. Course is traded everywhere, but this is done with a great ease. Between the various market stalls, there is occasionally the typical scene of one or the other local, drinking an Arabic coffee in the open cafés or seeing an elderly Bahraini smoke a shisha. You get here to pretty much satisfy anything your heart desires.
To say it right away; the magic of the Orient in modern cities is hardly felt something of the Arab Emirates. A hint of it has been preserved in the souks, narrow, partly covered markets. They are tailored primarily to the needs of the locals, which is quite convenient for tourists, as you will not be constantly harassed by pushy salesmen. So you can stroll and take photos in peace, bearing in mind not to include locals unasked. European women are advised to cover shoulders and knees; a headscarf is common in the Bab el-Bahrain Souk but not really necessary.
Tree of Life
Tree of Life
is intriguing because it is lush and green in the middle of nowhere, in the center of miles of desert sand. There is no public transportation there, you have to take a taxi, which is not so cheap, but it is worth the visit. Another interesting point is not only it is in the desert and receives very little water to survive but because it is surrounded by oil wells. The sunset is a special time to make some good photographic shot against the backdrop of an unusual landscape; desert and oil wells. Currently it is a work in progress as the government already announced having it fenced to preserve the site.
Oil Museum and First Oil Well
The visit to the
First Oil Well and Museum
will make you understand the significant benefits of the discovery of oil in this nation in 1932. Read about their humble start from digging through the sand, installing the refineries, and images of the first workers that labored day and night to find the historical black gold of the Bahrain desert.
Oil money provides free health care and education for every Bahraini resident. It also finances the development of new industries such as aluminum processing. Burning gases from oil wells blacken the sky of Bahrain. The country has less oil than most Gulf state, but its oil refinery is one of the biggest and most modern in the world. The oil trade and Bahrain’s position in the Persian Gulf made the country succeed as a thriving financial center and maintain a stable economy.
can be found not too far away from the Manama airstrip. It is a fifteenth century fortification constructed before the Portuguese intrusion. The fort is acknowledged as an Islamic stronghold and one of Bahrain’s numerous preventive fortifications built to serve and protect the city during the early times. The huge fortification is entirely made out of basic coral stone. The main square of the old fortress consist of a tower in each one corner and a trench surrounding it.
The fort is literally empty from inside and outside but still deserves a visit for the purpose of knowing it history and importance to the people of Bahrain. During its long history, this country has been invaded by the Portuguese, Persians, and mainland Arabs. Britain handled the country’s defense and foreign affairs from 1861 until 1971, when Bahrain became fully independent.
Isa Ibn Ali Al Khalifa House
Isa Ibn Ali Al Khalifa House
is the recognized residence of previous ruler Isa Ibn Ali Al Khalifa and it is placed in the Muharraq region. He controlled Bahrain from 1869 until his demise in 1932 – therefore making him one the longest authoritative rulers of the locale – however, officially he quit administering in 1923, when the British colonizers constrained him to resign. The local residents never distinguished his resignation and still looked upon him as their designated and authorized ruler.
He is looked up to by every Bahraini and revered up to this time. Even if his house looks desolated and empty inside, it still creates a good impression to anyone who visits the site because it is well maintained and fascinating the story of his governance and bravery. The rooms are divided equally and can be accessed starting from the room for the slaves, guests, family, and the kids. If you plan to visit, schedule the time and arrange for a guide to accompany you on a guided and informative tour about the history of the house and the inspiring life of the late ruler.