Bahrain’s architecture is comparable to its culture – vibrant, contemporary, and cutting-edge. Here is a look at some of the Kingdom’s most significant architectural sites.
BAHRAIN WORLD TRADE CENTRE
Bahrain World Trade Center (BWTC), inspired by traditional Arabian wind towers, is considered an iconic landmark in Bahrain. With the introduction of wind turbine technology to its infrastructure, BWTC has become a global establishment for sustainable architecture and has set a new precedent for future developments.
The BWTC, considered to be Bahrain’s first ‘Intelligent Building’, stands as a symbolic regional icon; its ‘SMART’ design offers a sophisticated atmosphere with astonishing views, high-speed panoramic elevators, and stunning interiors, making it extremely popular amongst prominent local and international businesses.
The Bahrain Fort (Qal’at al-Bahrain), previously known as Portugal Port dates back to the 16th century. It was used for residential, public, religious, military, and commercial purposes and was located at the capital of the Dilmun civilization. It is one of the three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bahrain
The fort today is very well preserved and has been open for visitors since 2008 to explore and appreciate its ancient historic features.
The Arad Fort (Qal’at ‘Arad) is one of Bahrain’s oldest archaeological sites built during the 15th century using traditional Islamic building techniques like palm trees and coral limestone. It served as a defensive fortress throughout history.
The fort’s compact structure is typical of Omani military architecture during the 15th-16th century. The square shaped fort has four cylindrical lookout towers on each corner with passages that connect them together. It also has a trench which was filled with water from two wells. Above the 12m mound is a Portuguese fort, giving the site its name (qal’a).
Today, the Arad Fort is one of the most historically valuable landmarks in Bahrain and is open to the public. It is one of the three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bahrain and serves as host to some seasonal festivals.
The Riffa Fort or Sheikh Salman bin Ahmed Al-Fateh Fort, was built in 1812 primarily for military and defense purposes. It later became a residential complex for the royals and was the birth place of Shaikh Isa bin Ali, who ruled Bahrain from 1869 to 1932.
The fort contains a large façade, a garrison amid the chambers, a well, and a mosque. Today, it houses the Saffron Café overlooking the Al-Haniniya Valley and is open for visitors.
AL FATEH GRAND MOSQUE
The Al-Fateh Grand Mosque is the largest place of worship in Bahrain, with the capacity to accommodate over 7,000 worshippers. It was built in 1987 by the late Shaikh Isa bin Salman and named after Ahmed Al-Fateh (Ahmed the Conqueror), Bahrain’s first hakim or monarch.
The dome built atop the mosque is currently the largest fiberglass dome in the world, weighing over 60 tons. Its Islamic library holds around 7,000 books – including copies of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (books of Hadith), which have been printed over 100 years ago.
The Al-Khamis Mosque (Masjid Al-Hamis), popular today for its twin minarets, is considered one of the oldest mosques in the Arab world. Built around 692 AD, the mosque is believed to be the first mosque in Bahrain.
The Al-Sakhir Palace is a palace in the Sakhir desert built in 1901. It is one of the most eminent buildings in the Kingdom and was once home to Shaikh Hamad bin Isa, Ruler of Bahrain, in 1925. It was built in the traditional Islamic fashion, consisting of of grand arches and columns, a dome, and an imposing minaret towering above.
Today, the palace is used for some of the most honorable and significant occasions in Bahrain.
The Siyadi House (Bayt Siyadi) is part of the Siyadi complex along with the Siyadi Majlis and Siyadi Mosque – created by one of Bahrain’s leading grand pearl merchant families. It is also part of the Bahrain pearling trail, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kingdom.
Today, the House which date back to 1931, illustrates the immense wealth of a grand pearling merchant and is still occupied by the builder’s grandson.
ISA BIN ALI HOUSE
Once home to Shaikh Isa bin Ali, the longest ruler of Bahrain from 1869-1932, the Isa bin Ali House is one of the best-preserved examples of local architecture before the discovery of oil.
The house has a simple architectural design, built with materials such as coral stones, mud, gypsum, date-palm trees, and lime. It has multiple staircases, intricate archways, and courtyards – giving a glimpse into the life of a royal in Bahrain in the 19th century. The building is divided into four sections, with separate areas for the shaikh, family, guests, and servants.
KING FAHD CAUSEWAY
The King Fahd Causeway connects Bahrain to Saudi in a series of bridges and causeways. The four-lane road is 25km long and 23.3 meters wide.
Established in 1986, the causeway made of concrete and reinforced steel, was constructed in three segments: From Al-Aziziyyah, south of Khobar, to the Border Station on Passport Island; from the Border Station to Nasan Island in Bahrain; and from Nasan island to Al-Jasra, Northern Governorate.