Bahrain’s capital and largest city lies at the northeast tip of Bahrain Island in the Persian Gulf. About one-fifth of the country’s population lives in the city. First mentioned in Islamic chronicles about 1345 CE, it was taken by the Portuguese (1521) and the Persians (1602). It has been held, with brief interruptions, by the ruling Āl Khalīfah dynasty since 1783.
Long an important northern Persian Gulf commercial center, Manama had a traditional economy based on pearling, fishing, boatbuilding, and the import trade. Harbor facilities were poor, and ocean vessels had to anchor in the open roadstead 3–6 km offshore. The discovery of petroleum in Bahrain in 1932 revolutionized the city’s economy and appearance by constructing many modern buildings. Manama developed as a trade, financial, and commercial center, the seat of numerous banks. However, the Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO) ‘s headquarters are at ʿAwālī, in the center of Bahrain Island.
We parked in the center of the capital city of Manama. It is a relaxed and cosmopolitan place and a favorite destination for visitors from neighboring Saudi Arabia; on weekends, crowds of Saudis converge on the city to enjoy its nightlife.
We visited the Qal’at al-Bahrain, also known as the Bahrain Fort. Archaeological excavations carried out since 1954 have unearthed antiquities from an artificial mound of 12 m in height containing seven stratified layers, created by various occupants from 2300 BC up to the 18th century, including Kassites, Greeks, Portuguese, and Persians. It was once the capital of the Dilmun civilization and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
The next day, we wandered around the city to see authentic Islamic architecture and get some breathtaking views over the bay. Early morning, we went to the authentic Central Market, with three main sections – fish, meat, and fruits and vegetables. Then, we spent some time around Al Fateh Grand Mosque, an icon of Islamic architecture and one of the largest in the world, which can accommodate over 7,000 worshipers at a time. Afterward, we walked through the gate of Bab Al Bahrain to explore Gold City and Manama Souq.
We walked around the Sacred Heart Church from 1939 toward the 150-year-old La Fontaine Art Centre, where we took our lunch (Chicken breast with mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables – 7,3 BHD, Sparkling water – 1 l / 3 BHD).
In the late afternoon, we head to Al Fateh Corniche at sunset to admire the mesmerizing sunset by the sea. In the evening, we started exploring the famous Bahrain nightlife scene. Here is our recommendation for a great evening – start at JJ Irish Pub (pint of Amstel Light – 2,9 BHD during happy hour, Philly Cheesesteak – 6,9 BHD) or McGettigans (Amstel Light – 3,2 BHD, Chicken Spaghetti – 5,8 BHD), between these two Irish pubs with live bands are many other cozy places to drink and eat. If some of you missed the Bangkok clubs atmosphere 20 years back, then real party animals go to Wrangler Club (Coors Light – 4,50 BHD), Social Monkey (Coors Light – 4,50 BHD), or opposite cosmopolitan Cavallo (Drinks – 4 BHD, entrance till midnight 5 BHD, after 10 BHD). In Diggers, you will enjoy the fun with Thai staff and a wild Filipino rock band.
Views at Manama
Around Bab Al Bahrain and Manama Souq
La Fontaine Art Center
Al Fateh Mosque
Parking location – Manama: 26.236516N 50.557191E (🚻 – in Ramada)