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Bahrain: Bahrain Fort

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Bahrain Fort | Bahrain | Asia

[Visited: November 2008]

Soon after leaving the modern city of Manama behind, I took the turn-off for Bahrain Fort. I started walking from a group of houses with colourful murals; Bahrain Fort dominates the surroundings and looms over you from here. But it is only when you come closer that you appreciate the size of the fort. Only then do you see the deep moat, and do you realize how high and massive the walls of the fort are. Moreover, it is only when you come close to the bridge leading to the access gate of the fort, that you see the ruins of one of the ancient settlements. Bahrain Fort is more than a fort: it is a pile of settlements, one on top of the other.

Picture of Bahrain Fort (Bahrain): Assyrian arch in the Bahrain Fort with the modern skyline of Manana

It is assumed that the oldest settlement was built in 2800 BCE, but remains of this settlement, which was small, have not survived the second city that superseded it. This was a far more serious city, surrounded by a defensive wall. It is estimated that this city survived for around five hundred years and was built directly after the first city was destroyed in around 2300BCE. It was succeeded by several more cities, all built one on top of the other, effectively creating a so-called tell: a mound composed of layers of successive settlements one on top of the other. Together with the fort constructed by the Portuguese, this is what is now collectively referred to as Bahrain Fort.

Picture of Bahrain Fort (Bahrain): Passageway with arches inside Bahrain Fort

Its location on the coast made it interesting enough for the Portuguese to establish a fort here in the 16th century, and this is the most prominent structure right now. Certainly interesting, it is the combination of this fort and the ancient settlements that make Bahrain Fort an interesting place to wander around. Some of the old buildings are still visible, notably one that lies just outside the main entrance, and another, newer settlement inside the defensive walls. Here, houses can be recognized, as well as a beautifully intact arch attributed to the Assyrians. Looking back gives you a view of the modern, shiny skyline of Manama. The contrast with ancient Bahrain Fort could not be bigger.

Picture of Bahrain Fort (Bahrain): View of Bahrain Fort from the outside, with defensive walls and turret
Picture of Bahrain Fort (Bahrain): Thick walls protected Bahrain Fort against invaders
Picture of Bahrain Fort (Bahrain): Walkway at Bahrain Fort
Picture of Bahrain Fort (Bahrain): View of Bahrain Fort from the outside
Picture of Bahrain Fort (Bahrain): View of defensive tower from below
Picture of Bahrain Fort (Bahrain): Excavations of ancient settlement with the modern skyline of Manama in the background
Picture of Bahrain Fort (Bahrain): Overview of Bahrain Fort and excavations of ancient settlement
Picture of Bahrain Fort (Bahrain): Bahrain Fort seen with moat and access bridge
Picture of Bahrain Fort (Bahrain): Ruins of settlement at Bahrain Fort

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