Manama literally means “Sleeping Place,” but the Bahraini capital is always lively. Visitors flock to the city on the weekends for off-duty drinks, fine dining and late-night shopping, giving the city little time to sleep. If staying up all night does not drain all your energy, there are plenty of museums, religious sights and parks to explore during the day.
If you want to learn more about Islam, there is no better place on Earth to visit than the Al-Fatih Mosque. The unpatronizing and informative guides walk visitors through the country’s largest building, providing priceless insight on the grand mosque. Built in 1984 from Italian marble, Indian teak wood and Austrian glass, the building is a spectacular example of Bahraini craftsmanship and design. From the friendly guides, visitors learn about religious etiquette and history while discovering special features of the stunning architecture. Tours begin at the small library before going through the prayer hall, and free booklets dispel some of the misconceptions commonly held about Islam.
Smaller but no less impressive is the Friday Mosque. Constructed in 1938, the cheery architecture is defined by a colorful minaret covered in a mosaic of glistening tiles. Although it is not open to tourists, the mosque is still worth a visit, if only to see its beauty from the outside.
Manama is the cultural capital of Bahrain, and many museums bring the spirit and the history of the country to life. One of the best is the Beit al-Quran museum, home to a striking and extensive collection of woodcarvings, Qurans and manuscripts. Like the Al-Fatih mosque, the museum provides an excellent introduction to Islam and especially Islamic calligraphy. Well-labeled with English information, the exhibits take at least two hours to explore. Visitors should dress conservatively and browse the foyer’s bookshop for local crafts before they leave.
Bahrain has a rich heritage of seafaring and pearl-diving, and the Museum of Pearl Diving contains a fascinating collection of antique weapons, tools made of date palms, traditional games, musical instruments, medicines and costumes related to the traditions. On the second floor is an interesting collection of photographs of Bahraini dignitaries and state occasions throughout the 20th century.
The Bahrain National Museum is the most popular tourist attraction in the country, and it is easy to see why. Housed in a beautiful post-modern building, the museum highlights ancient archaeological finds, earthenware burial jars, dioramas of pearl fishing expeditions, agate and carnelian beads, golden treasures, silver jewelry and more. Another section dedicated to contemporary Bahraini culture includes a reproduction souq, and the museum is rounded out with a chic coffeehouse, wildlife hall, a shop selling local crafts and many gallery spaces that showcase contemporary sculpture and art. The thought-provoking and entertaining museum will easily keep you amused for several hours.
Another popular tourist sight in the city is the Bab al-Bahrain, the gateway to the city that was built in 1945 by the British. Redesigned in 1986 to reflect a more “Islamic” style, the gate stands above a small square that today is lined by souvenir shops and the official Tourist Department offices. Each day, thousands of people representing many nationalities walk through the gate alongside workers, street vendors, shoppers and tourists.
Manama Geographical Location
Manama is located on the northeast coast of Bahrain and is its largest city.
The approximate population of Manama is 330,000 within the metropolitan area.
Arabic is the official language of Bahrain. Additionally English, Farsi, and Urdu are widely spoken as well.
Manama Predominant Religion
- 81% Muslim
- 10% Other
- 9% Christian
Islam is the official religion of Bahrain.
The Bahraini Dinar is the official currency of Bahrain.
Manama experiences little rainfall throughout the year with the summer months typically receiving no rain at all. The temperatures are hot during the summer and usually uncomfortable with the winters being warm and pleasant.
Manama Main Attractions
- Bahrain City Centre
- Bahrain National Museum
- Bahrain Fort
Other Attraction in Manama
- Bab el-Bahrain Souk
- Al-Fatih Mosque
- Al Dar Islands Bahrain
- Museum of Pearl Diving