The construction of high-rise buildings in Qatar, pre-date its modern commercial skyscrapers and breathtaking 5 Star Hotels in Doha. Like the famous Barzan Tower, many of Qatar’s historic towers are a part of the country’s late-19th century fortresses. Situated in the historic town of Umm Salal Mohammed, the iconic Barzan Tower stands tribute to Qatar’s ingenious architectural traditions.
One of several historic towers found in Qatar, Barzan Tower’s T-shaped architectural design makes it the most unique tower in the Middle East. Barzan means ‘High Place’ in Arabic, a fitting name for this 16 meter-tall tower which offers panoramic views of its surroundings helping it function as a strategic watchtower, an observatory and an ideal vantage point to oversee the local pearl trade in the port near Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara.
Built in 1910 by Sheik Mohammed Bin Jassim Al Thani, Barzan Tower is at the southern-end of a large fortress that was built to protect the ‘raudah’, a valley where scarce rainwater was collected, from Ottoman military strikes. Constructed as military watchtowers, both Barzan and its eastern tower have one meter-thick walls enforced by a wide tower base and buttresses. The Tower’s walls made of coral and limestone, roof made of four layers of asphalt-coated wood poles, bamboo, mud and mangrove branches and traditional wooden ‘marazims’ (that act as roof gutters) stand testimony to the architectural prowess of Qatari builders. Today, Barzan Tower’s modern air-conditioners keep the Tower’s interior cool against the blazing desert heat, although dampening the Tower’s authenticity.
Open 24 hours a day visitors can climb the three storey rectangular-shaped Barzan and Alborj Alshargi Towers that stand side-by-side, each distinguished by the cone-shaped construction at the foot of Barzan Tower and the wide external staircase of Alborj Alshargi Tower and enjoy views of nearby towers and Muhammed bin Jassim Al Thani residence that sit on privately-owned property. Other features of Barzan Tower include the L-shaped “majilis”, a room for receiving visitors, and a mosque and prayer room that functioned as an Islamic religious school for children.
Thanuja Silva is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Auburn Silver. She has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world. Google+