The skyline of the modern capital Manama is reminiscent of Manhattan. The souk (market) is in the heart of the old city near the great archway of Bab al-Bahrain. Although the old town is surrounded by numerous new buildings and new buildings have changed their face, walking through the maze of narrow streets feels like you have been transported back centuries. In the old town there are still numerous houses with the characteristic “wind towers”, 5-6 m high superstructures, which are open on all four sides and, as forerunners of modern air conditioning, provided cooling. The trail passes the Bait Siyadi, a 19th-century pearl merchant’s house, the Barbarian Temple and theAl Jasra House, the birthplace of the Emir. The gold souk in the southeast of the market area is particularly impressive at night. The ancient fortifications Arad Fort, Bahrain Fort and Riffa Fort are also of interest. Culture vultures should plan visits to the Archaeological Museum with exhibits from the Bronze and Neolithic Ages, the National Museum and the Oil Museum. The Bait Al Qur’an houses a rare collection of Islamic manuscripts. The imposing Juma Mosque is also worth seeing and the Islamic Center Al Fateh is the largest mosque in the country. Numerous areas, including the Diplomatic Quarter, have been reclaimed from the sea. The most popular and longest beach is Al Jazair Beach, which has picnic areas.
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The ancient capital of Bilad Al Qadir, founded in the 9th century, is just outside Manama. Muharraq, the second most important city in the country, can be reached via a causeway from Manama. A visit to the National Museum is a reminder of the island’s rich past. The old bazaar impresses with its typical Arabian flair. Near the pearl fishing town of Budaiyain the north-west of the island (5 km from Manama) stand the ruins of the 16th-century Portuguese fortress of Qalat-al-Bahrain.
The mosque at Suk al Khamis was built in the 7th century and is one of the oldest in the Persian Gulf. The modern Fateh Mosque, completed in 1988, houses a library and a convention hall. One of the most impressive structures is the 19th-century House of Sheikh Isa, which is characteristic of local Islamic architecture. A visit to the Al Areen Conservation Park is also worthwhile. Of course you can also visit the basket weavers in Khabadad or the potters in A’ali(11 km from Manama) at work. A’ali is also known for its approximately 170,000 pre-Christian burial mounds, which form the largest cemetery in the world. Ancient burial mounds can be found in many places in Bahrain, the oldest dating from around 3000 BC. Not only archaeologists are impressed by the various important archaeological sites, in particular Barbar (3 km from Budaiya) and Hajjar. Djebel Dukhan (“Mountain of Smoke”) is the highest point in Bahrain and offers a magnificent view over the southern part of the island. In the area of Shaiks Beachthere are beautiful sandy beaches and numerous holiday apartments. Near the roundabout on the King Faisal Highway, artisans make dhows (Arabian sailing ships) and pots. Rifa’a has lush parks and is an overall elegant town, which is not surprising given that it is home to the country’s upper class.
Traditional dhows offer excursions to neighboring islands, popular destinations include the Al Dar Islands, Desert Camp, Al Bander Resort, The Tree of Life and the Al Areen Reserve where rare endangered animals can be observed in the wild can become.
Bahrain offers a diverse nightlife. In most of the larger hotels there is live music and dancing in the evenings, often jazz or piano music is played. In the larger cities there are cinemas showing films in English and Arabic. In the capital, Manama, nightlife means meeting up with friends in one of the many excellent restaurants, especially in the Adliya district. TimeOut Bahrain magazine regularly publishes a list of the most popular places to eat. Another popular evening activity is to visit one of the many bazaars (souks) in Manama, which often stay open late into the night. Manama also has some hip nightclubs, most of which are in the Juffair district. A mix of Arabic hits, house, R’n’B, hip-hop and even samba is often played. Sometimes internationally known DJs also perform. Information on events and live shows will be published in the ‘Nitelife’ section of Bahrain This Month magazine and in English language newspapers. Manama also has a lot to offer culturally: traditional music concerts take place in the Bahrain International Exhibition Center (Internet: www.bahrainexhibitions.com) and internationally renowned artists often perform in the large five-star hotels. On the grounds of the Riffa Golf Club (Internet: theroyalgolfclub.com) you can also improve your handicap at night.