Barzan Towers

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Barzan Tower
برج برزان
Umm Salal Mohammed Fort Towers
Umm Salal Mohammed, Umm Salal,  Qatar
Staircased Barzan Tower.jpg
Barzan Tower (With Staircases).
Barzan Towers is located in Qatar
Barzan Towers
Coordinates 25°25′05″N 51°24′47″E / 25.418024°N 51.413094°E / 25.418024; 51.413094Coordinates: 25°25′05″N 51°24′47″E / 25.418024°N 51.413094°E / 25.418024; 51.413094
Type Historical Watchtowers
Height 16 m (52 ft)
Site information
Owner  Qatari Government; Ministry of Tourism, Qatar Museums Authority
Controlled by Late 19th century–present:  Qatar
Site history
Built Late 19th century
In use 1910–2003: Watchtowers
2003–present: Museum

Barzan Towers (Arabic: برج برزان‎ "High Place"), also known as the Umm Salal Mohammed Fort Towers, are watchtowers that were built in the late 19th century and renovated in 1910 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Jassim Al Thani.[1][2] They are located at the southern side of the defensive system established at the end of the 19th century and start of the 20th century to protect the 'rawdat', a valley where precious rainwater is collected when it flows down from higher ground. In Arabic "barzan" means "high place"[1][2]

The buildings were restored in 2003. The towers measure 16 metres (52.49 ft) high.[2] The fort links to two other fortified buildings towards the west and another tower towards the north. Barzan Towers may have been built near the sea to keep an observant eye on pearl divers, as a look-out for approaching ships, and as an observatory for keeping track of the moon.[2][3] The Barzan Towers have been rebuilt with features such as air-conditioners.[1]

Originally built with coral rock and limestone cementing the structures featured traditional Qatari design and building methods including "marazim" wooden to drain rainwater during storms away from the building walls, a "majilis" room between the towers to receive guests, and four-layer roofs with "danchal" wood pole construction, 'basgijl,' woven bamboo strips, mangrove mesh and a layer of compressed mud.


The Barzan Towers were built in the late 19th century[4] and were renovated by Sheikh Mohammed bin Jassim Al Thani in the early 20th century to serve as watchtowers against the incoming Ottoman soldiers. Although his father had defeated the Ottomans several years before in the Battle of Al Wajbah, Mohammed remained weary of renewed military tensions. They were also used by the native Qataris to scrutinize the new moon during the holy month of Ramadan, since keeping track of the moon was essential. The towers were restored in 2003 by the Qatari authorities.[2][3]


The Barzan Towers are situated in the town of Umm Salal Mohammed, in the municipality of Umm Salal that is about 10 km from the coast and 15 km north of Doha, the capital city of Qatar. On one side of the towers, huge, modern houses stand, while on the other, makeshift shacks exist. The former fortified house, or sometimes referred to as castle, of Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani is located beside the towers. A unique oasis full of green trees, animals and palm trees can also be found behind the towers.[2][3]


The Barzan Towers have walls which are one meter thick, especially in the base, and are further reinforced and toughened by buttresses. One tower has walls in the form of cones and massive and enormous staircases in the other. These walls were built by first merging and blending overlapping raw pieces of coral stones with limestone and cementing the two with a mud mortar after, which is somehow, similar to the construction of the walls of the Zubarah Fort. The walls were then covered with a gypsum-based plaster once dry. The Barzan Towers have a roof that was built with four layers. The first layer is composed of a series of "danchal" wood poles, which were sometimes painted with bitumen for protection. The "danchal" poles were then covered by a layer of "basgijl", a layer of woven bamboo strips. A carefully constructed net of mangrove branches was added, followed by a layer of compressed mud to protect the towers from the sun during the hot summers. The towers were also built with some external features such as a room for receiving guests, called "majilis", which was built as an L-shaped pavilion with windows for ventilation, and a mosque which has a prayer room that was also used as a school for teaching the Quran to children, called "madrassa". Traditional "marazims" protect the walls' surfaces and were built as wooden channels that stretch out from the roof to drain rainwater just in case heavy, but rare and uncommon, thunderstorms and other types of storms strike the desert. The "marazims" were built on top of the "majilis" and the mosque.[2][3]


The Barzan Towers are open to visitors for 24 hours. On the other hand, several surrounding landmarks, such as the house of Sheikh Jassim bin Muhammed Al Thani, the Umm Salal Fortresses and other additional towers of the forts, are closed for visitors since they are private property.[2][3]


Click on the thumbnail to enlarge.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Barzan Towers: Qatar Visitor". Archived from the original on 2012-10-24. Retrieved 2012-11-16.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Forts :: Qatar Tourism Authority". Retrieved 2012-11-16.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Barzan Towers ::". Retrieved 2012-11-16.
  4. ^ Zahi Hawass (30 May 2013). "أم صلال محمد.. تاريخ وتراث" (in Arabic). Asharq Al Awsat. Retrieved 29 July 2015.

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