Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Every nook of Qasr Al Hosn has a story to tell

More of a palace than a fort, Qasr Al Hosn is a historical document capturing the different times and changes that occurred to the island upon which it stands.

One day when I was growing up, my grandmother decided to "kidnap" me for an afternoon.

She dressed me up as a princess and took me to visit a palace. For the longest time I called it "the dragon's castle".

Exploring old forts used to be a favourite activity for my grandmother and I; palaces and castles in various parts of Poland, or wherever we happened to be travelling in Europe.

On this particular occasion - I can't remember how old I was but I remember the awe - the fascination and fear I felt walking inside this Gothic palace was overwhelming.

I later learnt it was actually called the Wawel Royal Castle of Krakow, in Poland. The area is tied to a legend of a dragon and its slayer, and this dragon's cave exists to this day on Wawel Hill on the bank of the Vistula River. The dragon is known as The Dragon of Krakow, or Wawel Dragon.

Memories of our explorations and this family tradition of visiting old forts and palaces came back to me two years ago, when Sheikha Osha, daughter of the former Ruler of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, took me on a special tour of her former childhood home.

Three of her granddaughters accompanied us, and just as I used to stop at every corner of a palace with my grandmother, we stopped together and listened to Sheikha Osha's stories from inside Abu Dhabi's oldest and most historic building.

More of a palace than a fort, Qasr Al Hosn is a historical document capturing the different times and changes that occurred to the island upon which it stands, and the people that lived, visited and worked there at different periods of time. Every nook of Qasr Al Hosn has a story to tell.

When Sheikha Osha went from one room to the other, she would share moments from her past, and I imagined for a few minutes my grandmother standing next to us, listening in. She always wanted to meet someone who had actually lived in those palaces or forts we visited.

It was a dream and an honour to me to be there, and it would have been a dream come true for my grandmother.

If she hadn't passed away just a few months after I toured Qasr Al Hosn, it was the first place I would have taken her to visit and hopefully meet Sheikha Osha.

I have visited forts and palaces in every emirate, and each one has a unique tale. If I know my grandmother, she would have insisted that we climb a few of the watchtowers, no matter how crumbling and small they may be.

"A place remembers its occupants; the walls and floors save bits of their souls," was something my grandmother would say.

Only recently, after visiting Qasr Al Hosn with Sheikha Osha, did I truly appreciate what she meant.



Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 A still from the 27-second black-and-white video that was taken using a satellite owned and operated by Skybox Imaging.

Burj Khalifa stars in HD video from space

A 27-second black and white video of a plane flying over Dubai's skyscrapers captures the imagination of some.

 Falconry is an activity where they demonstrate how falcons catch prey while flying at a speed of almost 360 kilometres per hour. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

In pictures: Adventure in the desert at Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Sarab

Mohammad Ashfaq, an adventure guide at the Qasr Al Sarab resort, Abu Dhabi, showcases a day in his working life.

 JP Duminy played a cameo knock of 52 not out from 35 balls to tip the game in Delhi Daredevils' favour. Pawan Singh / The National

Kolkata Knight Riders lose way as Duminy sizzles for Delhi Daredevils

JP Duminy keeps his head as cameo at the death helps swing it in Delhi's favour in Dubai after captain Karthik plays the anchor role.

 A projectionist takes a break in the projection room at Ariana Cinema in Kabul, Afghanistan. Going to the movies, once banned under the Taliban, has become a popular form of entertainment in Kabul, but women and children rarely take part. All photos by Photo by Jonathan Saruk / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghan cinema: Forbidden Reel

The lights go down and the projector whirls into action as Sher Mohammed, 35, begins his routine, bouncing back and forth between two projectors, winding reels, and adjusting the carbon arc lamps inside the projectors.

 The mother removes the noose with the help of her husband from around the neck of Balal.

In pictures: Mother forgives her son’s killer as he awaited his execution

An Iranian mother spared the life of her son’s convicted murderer with an emotional slap in the face as he awaited execution with the noose around his neck.

Tyrese reunited with Fazza

Tyrese today posted on his social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) his pleasure at being reunited with the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National