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Insider guide: Muharraq

Insider guide: Muharraq

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The city of Al Muharraq has a history dating back five thousand years and it was the capital of Bahrain until 1923. Every visitor sees something of the destination owing to the fact that is home to the 1) Bahrain International Airport.

The main draw of Muharraq is its 2) Pearling Trail – a 3.5 kilometre trail that was used by pearl divers during much of Bahrain’s history until the early 1930s. The pathway consists of a number of historical buildings, oyster beds and a stretch of coast including the seafront 3) Bu Mahir Fortress on the southern tip of Muharraq. The trail was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.

The most notable attraction in Muharraq is 4) Shaikh Isa bin Ali’s House (Beit Shaikh Isa) – a residence and former seat of government – that provides insight into 19th century royal life. The house contains impressive examples of Gulf Islamic architecture featuring windtowers, four courtyards, beautifully carved wooden doors, and perforated gypsum panels.

5) The Shaikh Ebrahim Bin Mohamed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research provides an important insight into Bahrain’s past and includes a collection of houses that tell the story of Muharraq’s history and Bahrain’s heritage. From embroidery at 6) Kurar House to a showcase of Bahrain’s pearling history at 7) Bin Matar House, the former home of a renowned pearl merchant. The various houses reflect Shaikh Ebrahim Center’s commitment to the preservation of traditional architecture in the Kingdom.

The collection of houses here also includes the 8) Shaikh Ebrahim Lecture Hall, 9) Iqra Children’s Library, 10) Heraf al Diyar, 11) Nukhida House (which is the first house to be restored along the pearl trail), 12) Abdullah Al Zayed House, 13) Bu Zaboon House and 14) Mohammed bin Faris House that all, in their own way, showcase different aspects of Bahrain’s rich culture and heritage.

Hosting regular art exhibitions by regional talent and film screenings is 15) La Maison Jamsheer. Situated just a short distance from Shaikh Ebrahim Center, it provides another example of the traditional courtyard houses that Bahrain is famed for.

Smaller than Manama Souq, but worth a visit is the 16) Muharraq Souq, which offers a wide range of merchandise from local fashion and colourful textiles to exotic spices and culinary treats. There are several sweet shops at the souq that are also worth a visit.

Another site not to be missed in Muharraq is 17) Arad Fort, representing typical Omani military architecture at the end of the 15th and early 16th centuries. The fort was once the site of fierce battles at the front line of Bahrain’s defences and has been subject to various phases of reconstruction.

Other places of note include  18) The Muharraq Club, which is the oldest sports club in the Gulf and Amwaj Islands, located close to Muharraq, features stunning beaches and many luxury hotels.