The majestic Qasr Al Hosn Fort, Abu Dhabi
The majestic Qasr Al Hosn was developed in the year 1760. This Fort features on the 1000 Dirham note and is the pride of Abu Dhabi. The Fort began its life as a watchtower. It used to safeguard a very precious well during the early years of its development. This fort was later on expanded to new dimensions. It became the ancestral home of the ancient Al Nahyan family back in 1793. This family occupied the fort until 1966. You can find a number of pictures, free exhibits, models and archaeological finds of the ancient Abu Dhabians at this place. This fort was closed after a brief period of rule by the administrative center in the year 1990. This was primarily due to restoration reasons.
This iconic fort is the emirate’s first permanent structure. It houses fascinating oral testimonies and photographs that are very important to it. It also holds many exhibitions. This exhibition tells people about the life at Abu Dhabi centuries ago. There are a number of contemporary voices who speak at this exhibition and tell people about the rich Emirati heritage, culture, and traditions. People are usually free to visit the exhibition between 9:00 am to 8:00 pm.
During its initial years, this fort overlooked the sea. Later on, it was transformed into a fortified and impenetrable fort. As for its architecture, the Qasr Al Hosn’s walls sparkle under the sun. This is mainly because of the reflective effect of the shells. This reflection on the walls serves as a very important navigational force. The merchants of the region can look at the wall from a distance when in the sea and can find their way right up to the shores. The floors and roof of the fort are usually made up of mangrove. This is so because it was the most popular, durable and strong building material available in those days. There is the traditional ‘Barjeel’ cooling and ventilation system in the fort. It is the most artful aspect of the fort. The recessed arches have been so constructed that they direct the sea breezes via the narrow airways right into the interior rooms. This provides sufficient cooling to the entire fort despite the scorching heat of the region.
The major works of restoration were ordered by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan. This restoration work was taken up between the years 1939 to 1955. The Fort went through a thorough expansion routine. The large-scale renewal and renovation of the fort helped to transform the place from the residence of the rulers to a well-conceived museum that houses a plethora of collections of the majestic Abu Dhabi.
At present, the fort is still going through another round of major renovation. Back in the 1990s, it was found that the white coating on the walls of the forts was causing a lot of toxic moisture to be collected on the surface of the coral stone bricks. The Fort was undergoing a lot of degeneration due to this very process. As a result, the authorities have chalked out a detailed project that will change the framework and brickwork of the structure so that it can breathe. The conservation team has a big burden on their shoulder. They are supposed to avoid and prevent any kind of damage to the authentic fabric of the structure. The undergoing conservation work is a big challenge for the architects.
The fort will most probably be accessible to the public in the year 2018. After such a long wait, people will finally be able to see what work has been done on one of their favorite destinations. We hope that the present design would have been incorporated keeping in mind the cultural and tourism needs of the area. We hope that the end result is aesthetic as well as sturdy in the long run.