Al Ain Forts and Castles
No city of Abu Dhabi Emirate is richer in forts and castles than Al Ain, the capital of the Eastern Region.
As a centre for agriculture and focus point for travellers, the oasis is culturally famous for its archaeological sites, as well as the 19th century forts which bear witness of the history of the families inhabiting the area for centuries.
Visitors to Al Ain can learn about the history of the city and its cultural sites in the Al Ain National Museum, with an ethnographic and an archaeological section. Most of the original archaeological sites of Al Ain are open to the public, as well as the watchtowers, such as the Al Hili Watchtowers, which are typical for the region.
The most remarkable forts of Al Ain are:
- Mezyad Fort (beginning of 19th century)
- Al Murayjib Fort (1816)
- Al Jahili Fort (1891)
- Al Ain Palace Museum, also known as Sheikh Zayed Palace (1937)
- Al Murabba Fort (1948)
- Eastern Fort, also known as Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Fort (beginning of 20th century)
Along the wayside, visitors to Al Ain will come across several smaller forts which are worth visiting. In some cases prior arrangements are necessary since the forts are on private property. A selection of the forts which visitors should not miss out is listed below according to their location coming from Abu Dhabi Island.
Al Muwaiji Fort
Al Muwaiji Fort is situated along the E22 inside the farm of HH the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in Al Muwaiji village at the eastern entrance to Al Ain facing the Diwan of the Ruler’s Representative in the Eastern Region.
The fort is an important historic monument linked to the history and political succession of the Al Nahyan Rulers in Al Ain. It was built under the rule of Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa (Zayed the Great) and, after his death, its ownership moved to Sheikh Mohamed bin Khalifa, father of HH Sheikh Tahnoon bin Mohamad Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Eastern Region.
When the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was appointed ruler of Al Ain in 1946, the fort was presented to him. Since that date, the political importance of the Palace as Zayed’s seat of rule and open Majlis, and its significance as the residence of Zayed’s family increased. In fact Sheikha Hessa, daughter of Sheikh Mohamed bin Khalifa lived in the Palace and HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed the President of the UAE was even born there.
The Palace is square in shape, surrounded by thick walls crowned with crenellations and openings for shooting with rifles. It has also three towers to protect the sides of the building.
The Seja Fort lies in the southern part of Al Ain City, on the left side of Al Ain - Dhahira road and 12 km away from Al Ghaf Youth Centre.
The fort is a square-shaped building with its main entrance facing north and fences on three sides, north, south and east.
On the western side there are three rooms, which form a fence on that side. There is also a large yard and four rooms inside the fort.
Al A’ankah Fort
The fort lies 55 km west of Al Ain City in Al A’ankah Village on the trucks’ road between Al Ain and Abu Dhabi. It was built in the second half of the nineteenth century by Sheikh Saeed bin Tahnoon who ruled the emirate of Abu Dhabi from 1845 to 1855.
Its rectangular two storey building and tower are surrounded by an octagonal fence with loopholes for archery and gun-shooting.
Al Masoudi Tower
Located within Al Masoodi area in Sheikh Essa bin Zayed farmland, next to the Sheikh Essa Mosque, Al Masoudi Tower can be reached by car leaving Al Ain northbound. The cylinder-shaped, twelve metres high tower can be visited by prior appointment.
Al Masoudi Tower was most likely built at the end of the nineteenth century on the orders of the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed the First, during the rule of his father Sheikh Zayed the First (Zayed the Great). Sheikh Khalifa improved the agricultural land in the Al Ain region, where he also ordered the establishment of a new settlement named Al Masoudi.