Main entrance gate of Aqaba Fortress.

© eugenesergeev/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Aqaba Fort


The fort (currently closed for renovation with no set reopening date) was built between 1510 and 1517, as attested by the Arabic inscriptions inside the monumental gateway, and was used as a khan (travellers’ inn) for pilgrims on their way to Mecca. The Ottomans occupied the castle until WWI when, in 1917, the fortress was substantially destroyed by shelling from the British Royal Navy. The Hashemite coat of arms above the main entrance commemorates the Arab Revolt that swept through Aqaba, ousting the Turks.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Aqaba attractions

1. Aqaba Museum

0.04 MILES

The museum, closed in 2017 for renovation of the Aqaba Fort complex, was previously the home of the great-great-grandfather of the present king, Abdullah…

2. Arab Revolt Flagpole

0.04 MILES

Standing a massive 137m high and with a flag measuring 20m by 40m, this is Aqaba's most easily spotted landmark by some degree. Look closer, however, and…

3. Aqaba Heritage Museum

0.18 MILES

This free museum, in the shadow of the giant flagpole, is moderately diverting. There are some fascinating period photos of Aqaba, including at the time…

4. Public Beach

0.24 MILES

Packed at the weekend and on public holidays, this stretch of rather minimal sand beneath the palm trees offers a fun and sociable way to engage with…

5. Sharif Al Hussein Bin Ali Mosque

0.42 MILES

This grand and beautiful gleaming white mosque – an icon of Aqaba – is named for the great-great-grandfather of the current king, the emir of Mecca who…

6. Ayla

0.65 MILES

Located along the Corniche and incongruously squeezed between the marina and the Mövenpick Resort Hotel, Ayla is the site of the ancient port of Aqaba…

7. Ancient Church at Ayla

0.82 MILES

To the untrained eye, these ruins look unprepossessing to say the least, but archaeologists maintain that the remains of this ancient mud-brick complex…

8. North Beach

3.35 MILES

Pebbly North Beach and its promenade are often very crowded – for some people, that's one of the main draws. This is by far the most popular place in…