Our armchair travels have taken us to Bahrain. This is a nation that consists of over 30 islands in the Persian Gulf.
The King Fahd Causeway is a series of bridges and causeways that connects Saudi Arabia to Bahrain. The causeway was built to improve the links and bonds between these two countries. It was officially opened to the public in 1986.
Its modern capital Manama has left a lot of history behind for visitors to delight in instead of creating an ultra-modern city of steel and glass. The modern nicely blends in with the ancient history.
The Bahrain National Museum is the country’s most popular attraction. Visitors can get a great introduction to its history here. The highlights are the archaeological finds from ancient Dilmun, the reproduction souq covering Traditional Trades and Crafts on the first floor and the satellite photo of Bahrain which takes up most of the ground floor.
Among the other exhibits are a Hall of Graves, Customs and Traditions, the Islamic era and Documents and Manuscripts. There is a wonderful museum shop, a cafe and some gallery spaces used for contemporary exhibits of art and sculpture. Most everything is labeled in both English and Arabic.
Adjacent to the museum is the impressive National Theater of Bahrain. This is the third-largest theater in the Middle East. It appears to float up onto the water. It was built according to tradition and has interwoven aluminum strips allowing air to penetrate through the roof and the interior of the auditorium suggests the sea-going dhows of ancient Bahrain. The auditorium seats 1001 paying homage to “The Thousand and One Nights”.
Al Fatih Mosque is the largest mosque in the country and can hold up to 7000 worshipers. It was built with marble from Italy, glass from Austria and teak from India, carved by local Bahraini craftspeople. Guides lead visitors through the mosque. The tour begins at the small library right inside the main entrance where women are given a black cloak and headscarf to wear while visiting the prayer hall. After the tour visitors can get free booklets in the Discover Islam series.
Bab Al Bahrain the “Gateway to Bahrain” was built by the British in 1945. It is the entrance to Manama Souq. This is a great place to mingle with people of all nationalities, colorful street vendors, shoppers and a large variety of many different kinds of goods at the market. On the first floor you’ll find the Tourist Department.
Beit Al Quran museum is a wonderful example of modern Bahraini architecture with its carved Kufic script. This is home to a large and impressive collection of Qurans, manuscripts and woodcarvings that are a good introduction to Islam and Islamic calligraphy. Of particular interest are the miniature Qurans, with the smallest dating from 18th century Persia. All exhibits are labeled in English.
La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art showcases regional and international contemporary artists. It also has regular exhibits. It’s located in an impressive 19th century Bahraini town house with many features typical of Gulf Islamic architecture among them covered colonnades, archways and a signature fountain. In the complex you’ll also find an amphitheater, restaurant and one of the best spas in the city.
World Trade Center was built in 2008 and rises 240m high. This 50 story office tower is one of Manama’s most recognizable modern landmarks.
The Sail Monument is an amazing sculpture that overlooks a busy roundabout. It is dedicated to one of Bahrain’s most important industries, pearl diving.
Gulf International Convention Centre is a landmark building to the south of the city center.
Financial Harbor is something to see. It is the city’s highest building at 260m high with 53 floors.
Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve was established for the conservation of wildlife in the Middle East. It protects such rare Arabian species like the Oryx, Adax and Reem Gazelle.
The park has 100,000 flora and trees and over 45 species of animals, 82 bird species and 25 flora species. Here visitors can see springbok, saluki dogs, impala, fallow deer, Chapman’s zebra and desert hares. Among Arabian species are Nubian ibex, wild goats, barbary sheep and Asiatic onager.
One section is open to the public and the other is a protected reserve with two surface reservoirs for flora and fauna. Further renovations plan a falcon stadium and a pet park.
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