The Doha Fort which is also known as Al-Koot Fort was constructed to protect the nearby Waqif souq from thieves. The fort is located in one of the shopping districts of central Doha. But, at the time of construction, the fort would have been located some distance from the city, which then must have been a village. The earlier Doha Fort was built in 1880 by Sheikh Abdullah bin Qassim Al-Thani during his reign when Doha was nothing more than a village. The fort was rebuilt in 1927 and was fitted with a turret and a small watch tower. The fort which is set in a Moorish style was once a Turkish barrack. The fort is very close to the Souq Waqif, and at one time it was used as a base from which the traditional armed guards patrolled the area. Many people visit the fort to learn about the local and traditional activities in Qatar and the Middle East.
The courtyard mosque is one of the interesting features of the Doha Fort – the mosque does not have walls and a roof. The mosque was normally used by prisoners and it was necessary that they should be under strict supervision at all times – hence the lack of walls and roof. The fort has a square courtyard which is bounded on all sides by a wall. There are circular towers on three sides, while the fourth side has a square tower. Around the courtyard you will see a number of doors leading to prison cells. One larger door leads to a high-security, windowless cell that was reserved for the most dangerous criminals. You will find external stairs on the corners of the courtyards which will take you to the first floor. The walls have a number of gunfire holes facing different directions so that soldiers could shoot at enemies firing from any direction.
The Doha Fort houses a splendid museum which boasts of an excellent collection of traditional crafts that include weavings, delicate and intricate wood carvings, gypsum carvings, ornate wooden door pieces, paintings, gold work, and other artifacts. Like many traditional homes in the Middle East, there are many decorative carvings on the walls and you will also see the presence of many archways. The specialty of the fort is the exhibition of gypsum and wood carvings whose presence can be felt in many traditional homes. The exterior walls and the door of the fort is quite unique. Reconstruction of the fort took place, but unfortunately it was done very shabbily with the result that some of the original features have been lost. Work is going on to rectify the damage which was done and you can be hopeful to see most of the original architecture restored very soon.
The Doha fort has calm and peaceful interiors and you will find the interiors cool because of the thick walls. Inside the fort is a large open courtyard which at one time was used for public gatherings. You can stop here and relax at the fountain which is situated just within the courtyard. Go up the stairs to the right of the entrance and you will be able to see at least a little of Doha. Most of Doha cannot be seen because of the presence of many high rise buildings in the area.
When you take a trip to Qatar, do not miss out on Doha fort. The visit would be definitely worth your time.