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Friday, April 13, 2007

Al Zubarah Fort

The fact that Al Zubarah fort was built as recently as 1936 is testimony to the turbulent relations it had with its neighbour and one time master, Bahrain. There are a number of other ruins and excavations in the area, but this is the most complete and one of the best known, decorating many postcards and books. A cannon decorates the front of this fort, while the Qatari flag flutters proudly at the top.

Al Zubara fort
Until relatively recently, according to Discovering Qatar, it was used a police post, with prisoners held in the top rooms of the towers. These rooms could be reached only by reached by a rickety ladder. Now only one of these top rooms is accessible - still by ladder.

The ladder to the top rooms
When you arrive the caretaker will give you some keys, and you can let yourself into see the displays of findings from the nearby excavations. We were more interested in the old well - when you peer through the metal grid that closes off its top, you can still see yourself reflected in the water deep below - although our view was slightly spoilt by a floating bottles.

Climb up the internal stairs and you'll find curious holes in the metre thick walls. The holes allow light to come in but are twisted to make it difficult for enemies to fire into the fort. Wooden shutters are still used in the windows, and can be opened to allow the cooling wind in.

To get to Al Zubara fort, head out of Doha along North Road. Start looking for signs to Al Zubara after the turn off to Al Khor. You'll need to do a U-turn and head back a few metres before turning right. Then just follow the road until you get to the fort.

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