Heritage sites

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Heritage sites

Several heritage sites offer a window into Qatar’s past, from the UNESCO site of Al Zubarah, Al Jassasiya Rock Carvings, to the once thriving dye industry at Bin Gannam Island.  

Al Zubarah

This 20th century fort is the youngest and most prominent feature at the Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  A pristine example of a typical Arab fort, its one-meter-thick walls could ward off invaders and also helped keep the rooms cool during the hot summer months.  Located adjacent to the walled coastal town of Al Zubarah, about 105 km northwest of Doha, the fort overlooks the ruins of a once bustling pearling and trading town which bore witness to fierce tribal battles in the 18th century as powerful empires fought for regional dominance. 

The heavily fortified town of Al Zubarah fell to forces loyal to the Sultan of Muscat in 1811. In the 19th century it expanded into a bustling settlement that would go on to form the beginnings of the modern-day Gulf states.  Today, the fort has been transformed into a museum where visitors can explore artefacts from the pearl diving era.

Heritage sites

Address

Al Zubarah Fort

Phone

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Website

http://www.qm.org.qa/en/project/al-zubarah

Barzan Towers

Built in traditional Qatari design from coral rock and limestone between 1910- 16, this imposing 16-metre high watchtower was a lookout for approaching ships, particularly those of incoming Ottoman troops in the early 1900s.  It is believed to have also been used to protect water supplies and as an observatory to track the moon and determine the dates of the lunar calendar. Unlike other forts in Qatar, Barzan Towers was built over several floors, giving it the name Barzan, which means High Place in Arabic. 

Heritage sites

Address

Umm Salal Muhammed

Phone

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Website

http://www.qm.org.qa/en/project/towers-qatar

Al Koot Fort

Please note that the fort is due to reopen to visitors in 2021, and can presently be viewed from outside.  Right in the heart of Doha, near the bustling Souq Waqif, is the well-preserved Al Koot Fort – an imposing, white-stone square fort that was originally built in 1880 and then rebuilt in 1927 by Sheikh Abdulla bin Qassim Al Thani after the original fort was abandoned by the Ottomans. Each corner of the fort has a watch tower – three circular and one rectangular. Since it was built, the fort has served as a jail, a police station and was used as a museum where artefacts and artworks including authentic Qatari handicrafts, ornaments, original fishing equipment and boats, historic photos, and oil paintings were housed. 

Heritage sites

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Phone

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Al Jassasiya Rock Carvings

Located in the northeast of Qatar, Al Jassasiya is the most impressive of Qatar’s dozen rock-carving sites.  It comprises a total of 874 carvings, known as petroglyphs, the earliest thought to date from Neolithic times.  Discovered in 1957, the petroglyphs consist of various designs and patterns such as footprints, ships, and cup marks. The latter are believed to have been used in ancient board games such as mancala, known as Al Haloosa or Al Huwaila in Qatar.

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