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Bahrain: Qalat Arad

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Qalat Arad | Bahrain | Asia

[Visited: August 2010]

I had wanted to visit Qalat Arad many times before, but there were always other things to see and do in Bahrain. This time around, I decided to brave the summer heat and walk from Manama to the fortress, crossing Muharraq island on the way. I decided to time my visit in the late afternoon to avoid the most oppressive heat, and when I walked the Sheikh Hamad Causeway, I noticed a breeze coming from the sea which actually made walking not all that bad.

Picture of Qalat Arad (Bahrain): Side view of Qalat Arad in the late afternoon

Following the coastline for a while with good views of the emerging skyline on the other side of the water, I turned left at a main street leading through Muharraq. Since ramadan had started just a few days before, many shops were closed, but I could imagine that these streets and alleys would be quite busy during a normal working day. When I reached the boulevard running along the coastline on the eastern side of the island, I could not directly see Qalat Arad. The building is quite low, and does not stand out of its surroundings. But yes, there it was: built close to the waterfront, the warm sunlight falling on its sturdy walls.

Picture of Qalat Arad (Bahrain): Late afternoon light on Qalat Arad

On my right, the dhow shipyard, and several old wooden dhows lying in the apparently shallow waters. I walked the boulevard, and speeded up as the sun was sinking rapidly. When I reached the other side of the bridge leading to Qalat Arad, I had to sneak around a fence and go down steeply to reach a pleasant park built along the water. Here, I found trees, benches, people exercising in the heat - and, at the end, Qalat Arad. It is thought that this fortress was built by the Portuguese in the 15th century, during their short period of command of the island. It has been restored thoroughly, and now looks like a reliable, strong fortress. I was just in time to see the last rays of sunlight slowly moving away from its old walls - and I was definitely too late to actually enter the fortress. That will have to wait for a next visit.

Picture of Qalat Arad (Bahrain): Qalat Arad seen from up front
Picture of Qalat Arad (Bahrain): Flag flying over one of the watchtowers of Qalat Arad
Picture of Qalat Arad (Bahrain): Sun setting over Manama seen from near Qalat Arad

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