Abu Dhabi archaeology: The ancient wonders found in the Arabian desert

Editor’s Note: This CNN Travel series is, or was, sponsored by the country it highlights. CNN retains full editorial control over subject matter, reporting and frequency of the articles and videos within the sponsorship, in compliance with our policy.

CNN  — 

The UAE may have only just celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence but Abu Dhabi has a centuries-old past.

The largest of the emirates boasts an array of UNESCO World Heritage sites as well as some of the country’s most well-preserved forts which showcase its key geographical location over the centuries, telling the story of the Emirati people’s connection to both land and sea.

A short drive to the oasis town of Al Ain is where some of the most magical gems of the bygone generations come to life, a living museum paying homage to the country’s Bedouin roots. It’s a must for visitors to the UAE for a true taste of its authentic culture and heritage.

Known as the Garden City, Al Ain was once a vital green oasis on the caravan route from the UAE to Oman and is now home to several UNESCO protected sites.

Here are some of Abu Dhabi’s key archaeological and historical treasures.

Qasr Al Hosn

The 18th-century Hosn Palace, or Qasr al Hosn, began as a single watchtower in the 18th century and, as the complex grew, eventually became the seat of power until the late 1960s.

“There are beautiful stories about the palace told by people that used to live around this place,” says Nataly Leslie, a tour guide in the emirate. “The palace door was very much open for people to talk to the sheiks and tell them their concerns.”

Today, the palace remains a key attraction not only for tourists but Emiratis alike, who come and sit in the palace coffee shop to savor the place they have heard their ancestors speak of so fondly.

The palace also showcases local culture with regular exhibitions and events.

Al Ain Oasis

Al Ain is home to 100 varieties of date palm.