The Al Hosn Palace, which is located in Abu Dhabi, is the oldest building in the city. It was constructed in the year 1793 as the residence for the then ruling family of Dubai, whose the then ruler was Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. This building is otherwise known as the Old Fort or the White Fort. It was originally constructed as a watchtower to defend the only available fresh water well on Abu Dhabi Island. The Tower was later developed into a fort, when the ruling sheikh made it his place of residence. It was also the head quarters of the Government till 1966.
The entire interior of the Al Hosn Palace has been refurbished and is now being used by the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation. The Cultural Foundation is using it as the Center for Documentation and Research as well as a museum. It is also the center of cultural life in Abu Dhabi. The Center has in its collection several documents on the heritage and history of the Gulf Region. The Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation displays a weekly art exhibition. It also has a library, theatre auditorium, and lecture halls. This is the best place to know and learn about history.
The Al Hosn Palace is well known for its beauty, elegance, and famous for its architecture. You will be mesmerized by the interior decoration and design within the palace. The tile work on the main gate of the Al Hosn Palace is extremely splendid. The interior court yard is described by many as a haven of tranquility. The exquisite beauty and magnificence of the palace keeps attracting tourists and visitors every year. The Al Hosn Palace has a museum that has put on display traditional relic and many historical photographs. The exhibition tries to give you an in-depth knowledge of the life, wild life, the flora and the fauna, and the life in the desert. The Tower exhibits weapons which were used throughout the history of Abu Dhabi. The Al Hosn Palace is divided into two main sections – The Old Fort which shows you the original building and the other section which shows you the new additions.
History states that Abu Dhabi was ruled by the tribal group of Bani Yas. The island was then being used for fishing and pearling. The watchtower which was used to guard the freshwater well was converted into a much larger fort. The fort was later fitted with cannons and used to repulse maritime attacks. The palace became the official residence of Sheikh Shakhbut, who ruled from 1793 to 1816, and the fort also served as the seat of the government. Between 1976 and 1985 a complete renovation of the fort was taken up which included beautification of the gardens and fountains.
The Al Hosn Palace is a must-see place for all visitors to Abu Dhabi. The Palace is open to visitors from Saturdays to Thursdays from 7.30 am. To 1.30 pm., with Friday being a holiday. Admission is absolutely free. Your sightseeing in Abu Dhabi would be incomplete if you do not visit the Al Hosn Palace.