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Qatar: Umm Salal Mohammed fort

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Umm Salal Mohammed fort | Qatar | Asia

[Visited: August 2011]

It was still an early morning when, driving back from the west of the country, I decided to visit the town of Umm Salal Mohammed. There, I hoped to find the old fort and tower, even though I had not been able to find precise directions. After driving through the town, careful not to hit one of the many speed bumps, I noticed a building that stood out among the modern low-rise buildings. I drove up to a small parking space where I was happy to find just enough space in the shade to park. I now realized there were two towers that looked old, and I walked around one of the buildings to find an entrance. Around me, I heard air conditioning systems that were working hard to fight the summer heat, but strangely, I did not see anyone in the streets.

Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): Pretty small mosque in the complex of the Umm Salal Mohammed fort

I could just enter the courtyard, which gave the impression of being inhabited, even though there was quite a lot of rubbish lying around. I tried a few doors, and squeezed myself inside, trying to find a way to the tower. But the door to the tower was closed, and I just enjoyed the views from the roof. When I reached the second tower, I again searched for a way to climb to the top, but once more, concluded that this was not possible. I now wanted to see the Barzan tower, which I could not see - so I drove around the town until I suddenly spotted them. While I had been prepared to climb the low wall around the complex after reading several accounts of the complex, I was surprised to find an open door which allowed direct access to the complex.

Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): View of the Barzan, or West tower

Close to me, I saw an old, adobe mosque with a relatively low minaret, an attractive, small building. Climbing the stairs of the minaret, I had a better view of the west and east Barzan tower, which I visited next. The towers have been restored, and I was surprised to find not a single other visitor to the complex. Built in the late 19th century, these towers once were part of a fort with military and civil use, but have been restored recently after they were partly destroyed in the 20th century. When I entered the famous Barzan tower, a buttressed T-shaped tower unique to the Gulf region, I was happy I had taken my hat, as it was full of birds above me. Climbing steep wooden stairs, and squeezing myself through narrow openings, I reached the top of the tower, to find that the crenelated wall was too high for any nice view. After climbing also the East tower, with similar wooden, coloured ceilings, the roof proved to be equally high-walled. After descending again, I walked around the tall towers, enjoying the morning light cast by the sun, making the wooden beams cast a shadow on the adobe walls. It started to be really hot, and it was time to leave and search for breakfast.

Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): Barzan and East Towers seen from the south
Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): The twin Umm Salal Mohammed towers seen from inside the minaret of the fort
Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): Old wooden beams casting a shadow on the adobe wall of the East tower
Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): Small adobe mosque and minaret
Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): Interior of the East tower, with stairs leading to the top of the tower
Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): Traditional tower in Umm Salal Mohammed
Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): Crenelated tower in Umm Salal Mohammed
Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): Tower close to Umm Salal Mohammed Fort
Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): Barzan tower seen from the East tower
Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): Alborj Alshargi, or East tower seen from the south
Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): Wooden beams sticking out of the adobe wall of one of the East towers
Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): The small rooftop space on top of Barzan tower
Picture of Umm Salal Mohammed fort (Qatar): Crenelated East tower with beams casting a shadow over the wall

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