Muharraq is Bahrain’s third largest city and was the country’s capital until Manama replaced it in 1932. In 2012, the population of Muharraq was 176,583.
The city is located on the island of Muharraq.
Additionally, Bahrain International Airport is situated on the island. The man-made Amwaj Islands, famed for their huge structures, hotels, and beaches, are located adjacent to Muharraq. Muharraq is home to the most successful football club in Bahrain, Muharraq Club. It contains the renowned Siyadi House. Muharraq is also noted for its souq (traditional market) and as a center for traditional arts and music; prominent and successful Bahraini musician Ali Bahar hails from the city.
Muharraq was formerly a component of Dilmun, a Bronze Age Semitic-speaking state. Later, it became the city of Arwad on the island of Tylos (the ancient name for Bahrain), which was regarded by some (including Strabo and Herodotus) to be the cradle of Phoenicia. At the conclusion of Persian rule, Bahrain came under the control of the Seleucid Greeks, and Muharraq became the center of a pagan worship dedicated to the shark deity Awal. The inhabitants of the city, whose livelihood depended on seafaring and trade, worshipped Awal in the form of a gigantic shark statue erected in the city.
By the fifth century A.D., Muharraq had become a prominent center of Nestorian Christianity, which dominated the southern shores of the Persian Gulf. As a sect, the Nestorians were frequently hunted as heretics by the Byzantine Empire, but Bahrain, which was not governed by the Empire, provided refuge. Several of Muharraq’s villages bear names that reflect their Christian heritage, such as Al-Dair, which means “the monastery,” and Qalali, which means “monks’ cloisters.”
Al-Muarraq, along with the rest of Bahrain, fell under the hands of the l Khalfah dynasty in 1783, after having been conquered by the Portuguese (1521) and the Persians (1602).