A trip to the white coral stone fort of Qasr Al Hosn is a must for any visitor to Abu Dhabi. The lovingly restored fort has been turned into a museum showcasing the history of Abu Dhabi and its people. As you stroll through the porticoes, you are transported to times gone by and immersed in the rich and dynamic culture of past generations.
What can I expect to experience at Qasr Al Hosn?
Qasr Al Hosn is the oldest stone building in Abu Dhabi. Built in 1761, the fort has borne witness to almost three centuries of change and development, from a settlement reliant on fishing and pearling to a modern global metropolis.
The building is vast and contains traditional museum exhibition spaces as well as aspects of a living museum.
The first area of the fortress contains an exhibition explaining the origins of Abu Dhabi and the history of its people. There are a variety of artefacts, including those used in agriculture, fishing and pearling. Interactive and immersive experiences, including a small sound and light show in one of the towers, add to the overall atmosphere and experience.
As you move through the museum space, there is more information about the people of Abu Dhabi and their rulers, the Al Nayhan family. The last main exhibition space containing interactive screens featuring pictures and maps of the city, demonstrates how the city has changed and developed over the years.
Across the courtyard, the porticoed area of the site feels more like a living museum with exhibitions directly related to the function of each room. Bedrooms contain beds and wardrobes and other contemporary items, whereas sitting rooms contain traditional majlis sofas, braziers and coffee pots.
Some of the rooms include hands-on activities and information boards about different aspects of life in the palace as well as audio-visual elements and hands-on activities.
What is the House of the Artisans?
The House of the Artisans showcases the traditional crafts of the region. There are various hands-on activities and demonstrations conducted by local artisans. Permanent demonstrations include:
- Al-sadu – a form of weaving using wool from camels and sheep to make tents known as bait al sharr
- Khoos – a type of weaving using date palm leaves
- Talli – a type of embroidery used to decorate clothing items like the kandoora and thawb
- Boat building and seacraft
If you are lucky, you may catch a coffee-making demonstration. These usually occur twice daily and are one of the highlights of a trip to the House of the Artisans. Local guides will talk you through the etiquette surrounding brewing and drinking coffee in the UAE in a traditional majlis.
In addition to the demonstrations listed above, there are occasional workshops where you can learn a particular skill. In the past these have included burqa design, incense making, henna production and printing.
Access to the House of the Artisans can be obtained through the porticoed area of Qasr Al Hosn or directly from Al Hosn street. Entry to the House of Artisans is included in your Qasr Al Hosn ticket fee.
Is there anything for children at Qasr Al Hosn?
Children will love all of the interactive elements, which include spice sniffing and building a model fort from wooden blocks. There are numerous audio-visual installations as well as hands-on activities. There is also a well-put-together children’s trail suitable for children in the 5-13 age range.
The House of Artisans has live demonstrations, including a coffee-making/drinking ceremony and various types of weaving, as well as hands-on child-friendly activities.
What facilities are there at Qasr al Hosn?
There is no Cafeteria at Qasr Al Hosn, although Arabic coffee and dates are available at the neighbouring House of the Artisans. A small gift boutique in the House of the Artisans sells a variety of tasteful toys and gifts, and there are toilets.
How much does it cost to visit Qasr Al Hosn?
General admission to Qasr Al Hosn is 30 AED for adults and includes access to the House of Artisans. Children under 18 years of age are free. You can buy tickets at the entrance or book online here.
Special events and classes at Qasr Al Hosn and The House of the Artisans must be booked and paid for separately.
Qasr Al Hosn is open Saturday to Thursday from 10:00 AM until 9:00 PM and from 2:00 PM until 10:00 PM on Fridays.
What is the (Qasr) Al Hosn Festival?
The Al Hosn Festival is an annual celebration of Emirati history and culture. The festival takes place in the cooler winter months (usually December or January) at Qasr al Hosn and normally lasts around ten days. There are lots of cultural demonstrations and performances as well as the opportunity to sample local cuisine and buy locally produced handicrafts. A variety of concessions are also available.
In 2023 the Al Hosn Festival will take place between the 13th and 22nd of January. Adult tickets are priced at 30 AED and are available here.
Where is Qasr Al Hosn, and How do I get there?
Qasr Al Hosn is located at the intersection of Sheikh Zayed The First Street and Rashid Bin Saeed Street in the Al Hisn area of Abu Dhabi, just a few blocks back from Abu Dhabi Corniche. The area is serviced by numerous buses, and there is free underground car parking on site.
More Frequently Asked Questions on Qasr Al Hosn
Qasr is the Arabic word for palace, and Hosn is the Arabic word for fort.
The restoration project was completed, and buildings re-opened to the public in 2018
The dress code is not as strict as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, however, it is considered a culturally significant part of the city, and we’d recommend dressing conservatively.
Women’s heads do not need to be covered. However, we’d recommend as a courtesy that men and women wear long trousers and have shoulders covered — no tight or revealing clothing. You can find out complete dress code advice for Abu Dhabi here.
It is recommended to take water and a sun hat with you. Large parts of the site are outdoors, and there is nowhere to buy refreshments on site.
There are ramps and lifts to most areas on site. Disabled toilets are available.
There are a variety of small cafes and eateries close to Qasr Al Hosn, the most notable is Erth restaurant. Located between Qasr Al Hosn and the Cultural Foundation, Erth pays homage to Emirati culture, and cuisine showcases the region’s culinary diversity using locally sourced ingredients.
Open daily from 12 noon until 11:00 pm a stop here would make an excellent compliment to a visit to Qasr Al Hosn.
Where to Next in Abu Dhabi?
For culture and history lovers visiting Abu Dhabi, we also recommend you check out our guides to:
- Visiting Qasr Al Watan – The Presidential Palace Complex
- Abu Dhabi’s Most Important Landmark Buildings
- 12 Cultural Attractions of Abu Dhabi Not to Miss
Before you go… Important things to consider planning a trip to Abu Dhabi
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Abu Dhabi, a handy guide on what to pack as well as top tips for first-timers on the dos and don’ts, laws, and customs in the UAE.
- Check the most up-to-date COVID entry rules for Abu Dhabi.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!
- Discover the best places to stay in Abu Dhabi, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
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