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Oman: Jabreen Castle & Nizwa

Day 5: Jabreen Castle, Bahla Fort, Nizwa Fort, and Nizwa Souq

Two hour drive from the desert to Jabreen Castle. The building was built back in 1675 with two towers and rooms. The tour of the fort is over an hour but worth. You can do a self-guided tour with a recorder. You just put the number into the recorder and the information is provided regarding each of the stations. The fort was an important center for learning medicine, Islamic law, astrology and more. As you go through the castle you can view each room. We saw rooms that were labelled as female prison, male prison, court room, and more. The price for the castle is .500 OMR (1.22 euros, $1.30, and 1.21 CHF).

From visiting Jabreen Castle, we took a ten minute or so drive to Bahla Fort. The Bahla Fort (Willayat of Bahla, Al-Dakhiliya Governorate) is the only fort in the UNESCO World Heritage site in Oman on the list which was added in 1987. As the fort holds historical value carrying out covering different periods from the pre-Islamic era to the modern era. In 2012, the fort underwent massive restoration. The fort is the largest fort in the Sultanate of Oman that is built on a rocky hill that overlooks the palm tress walled oasis. The fort is made of mud bricks and stone structures. The fort can feel like a maze if you let it because there are many areas to explore. It is one of the four historical fortresses. Upon entering the fort, you are provided with a brochure (Arabic and English language) that includes the history, layout, structure, parts of the fort, the characteristics of the parts, and the information regarding the restoration activities. The price to get into the fort is 1 OMR (2.44 euros, $2.60, and 2.41 CHF).

Leaving Bahla Fort, we checked out Bahla Souq. Many of the shops were closed during the time we went but it was still worth visiting. We decided to still walk around the market and explore what shops are normally there. Nizwa Fort from Bahla Fort is a 35 minute drive. Nizwa Fort can be found in the center of the city of Nizwa. During a successive period, Nizwa was the capital of Oman. Many tourist go to Nizwa for the markets, mosques, and more. It is one of the most visited monuments in Oman. The fort is the largest circular tower that can be found in the Arabian Peninsula.

It took 12 years to complete the 24 meters high and 39 meters inner diameter fort that is connected to an old wall that is 1,200 years old. Pamphlets mention that the fort is known as Ash' Shahba because of the height and fortified strength. In the fort, you learn about the method of defense used such as the hot date syrup sumps that were used to deter the enemy. Additional to the fort, there is a castle. The castle was built in the late 8th century and expanded upon in the 9th century. There are several rooms included in the castle such as date stores, a resident for students, guest rooms, date stores, public meeting room, and more. Inside the fort, you can find locals selling different handmade items, making food, doing hennas, and more. It is great to interact with the locals and getting a glimpse of their culture.

The Nizwa Souq is next to the fort and is known as one of the oldest markets in Oman. This particular market is dedicated mostly to livestock, vegetables, handcrafts, spices, and more. The market was beautiful and this market, they allow you to look around to see what you want. They do not push you into getting anything or ask you to come into their shop to look. It is very relaxing compared to the Muttrah Souq.

Day 6: Bait Al Sabah Heritage, Birkat Al Mouz, and back to Muscat

We stayed at the Bait Al Sabah Heritage Inn & Cafe in Birkat al Mouz which is a small town in Wilayat Nizwa. The coffee shop that is connected to the inn has one of the best coffees you can find (we will tell you our three top & favorite coffee shops). Staying at the inn, we were provided with buffet style breakfast and a coffee from the shop. Which was GREAT! If you go downstairs you can find the irrigation system right underneath the rooms. In fact, the irrigation system of the old water channels are still running in the village and is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site.

Given that the system has been standing since 500 AD and changed even more 5000 years ago. It is neat on how to get to the irrigation system, watch it, and the exit from it lead directly outside towards the ruins. You can find many of the locals hanging at the cafe during the day and night. The ruins can be seen from your room window if you stay at the inn and the deck of the cafe if you go to the top deck. The ruins take you back into time and you get a great idea of how the structures were built.

As you see the years old mud fortresses that still stands. The doors that still stand are beautifully designed and the irrigation system that is found throughout the village. The tour of the village and ruins can be self-guided, tour guide, or a local can help guide you through the area. We explored the area on our own. At the top of the ruins, you can see that there are two sets of ruins. Articles mention that the two sets of ruins are from two different tribes. I am not sure if this is true but you do notice that one ruin is bigger than the other, but the irrigation system runs through both. The smaller ruin you can see more of colorful fish in the water and how locals use the water system. Throughout the village, there are banana and palm trees that can be seen and at the top of the ruins you can see the beautiful view of the mountains. Want to stay at the Al Sabah Heritage Inn & Cafe click here (this link is not affiliation of any sort) Leaving the Bait al Sabah, we drove back to Muscat. The drive was around an hour and a half heading to Old Muscat. In Old Muscat, we went to visit the area around the Al Alam Palace, traditional homes and museums that focus on Oman's culture and history.

The Al Alam Palace is a tourist attraction primarily because of the unique color of the building. All throughout Oman, this building is one of the only buildings with the color and structure that it has. The palace is not just known for the color but for being a ceremonial palace that was used by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said. From the back side of the Al Alam Palace, you can see the two forts Al Jalili and Al Mirani that overlook the bay. The area is beautiful because the unique layout of buildings, landscape and how well it is kept up. The workers work really hard to provide an area that is beyond spotless. I would highly recommend that if you are in Muscat to visit the Old Muscat area. We were sad that we only spent six days in Oman, but those days were filled with amazing people and views. We have never explored an area that made you feel so welcomed and a part of their culture. We will definitely be back and you should book your trip to Oman!


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