WanderlustTracking Bahrain’s heritage trail

Bahrain’s enigmatic ancient sites and historic monuments tell the story of lost civilisations

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Archaeological wonders, burial mounds older than the pyramids and mighty fortifications standing strong after centuries — Bahrain’s millennia of history lives on. And, with more sites on the UNESCO World Heritage Site waiting list than you can shake a piece of Dilmun pottery at, Bahrain is a place where the past continues to be uncovered. From early mosques, to an ancient tree that defies existence, discover the historic locations that reconstruct the story of Bahrain’s rich past as we head out on Bahrain’s heritage trail.

 

Qal’at al-Bahrain (Bahrain Fort)

10 minutes west of Manama, the 16th century Qal’at al-Bahrain overlooks the twinkling gulf, still guarding the capital of the ancient Dilmun Empire. Built by the Portuguese, this once mighty stronghold remains in remarkable condition. Excavations of the 12-metre 'tell' (artificial mound) that the fort is built on, revealed that humans have inhabited this site from as far back as 2,300 BCE. Within the fort’s impenetrable sandstone walls, a museum showcases 500 artefacts telling the history of human activity at this captivating UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Bahrain National Museum

The custodian of Bahrain’s past, Bahrain National Museum is a must-visit for a consolidated exploration of the island kingdom’s 6,000-year history. Located on Manama’s waterfront, the striking marble museum contains nine halls overflowing with incredible finds. From the archaeological remains of ancient Dilmun and compelling Quranic manuscripts, to a recreation of a traditional souk, you’ll go on a journey to the heart of thousands of years of antiquity.

 

Al-Khamis Mosque

One of the earliest relics of Islam’s arrival to the region, Al Khamis Mosque has stood tall since 692 AD, during the Umayyad caliph. Humble in appearance compared to the grandeur of later mosques, Al Khamis Mosque is no less atmospheric. Its two restored minarets pierce cloudless blue skies, while swooping Arabic arches and crumbling columns evoke a past splendour. Sitting on the Shaikh Salman Road in Khamis, Al Khamis Mosque makes a perfect introduction to the early presence of Islam in Bahrain. You can even climb the twin minarets and get a stunning view from the top across to Manama.

 

Dilmun Burial Mounds

Another UNSECO World Heritage Site, the Dilmun Burial Mounds are a lingering reminder of Bahrain’s ancient civilisation around 2,200 and 1,750 BCE. Between Hamad Town and A’al on the western part of the island, over 170,000 tumuli undulate their way across the landscape making it the largest graveyard in the world. The most impressive mounds are near A’ali village constructed as two-storey sepulchral towers and said to be where the Dilmunite royal families were laid to rest.

Tree of Life Bahrain's heritage trail

 

Tree of Life

On a windswept hill in the barren Arabian desert near Jebel Dukhan, a solitary tree seemingly defies existence. With no discernible water source, the Tree of Life grows in a tangle of gnarled branches and rich green leaves. Its presence in this dehydrated terrain is a mystery and is the stuff of local legend (the Tree of Life has become a metaphor for Bahrain’s strength and resilience). As for its age, it’s estimated to be about 400 years old, however, according to myth Bahrain is the site of the Biblical Garden of Eden, which does mention a Tree of Life within its pages.

Located in Manama, the elegant beachfront Jumeirah Royal Saray is perfectly positioned to visit the island kingdom’s heritage sites. Our Concierge will be happy to arrange your trips and tours.