The first foreign presence in Muscat was in the form of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who passed through Oman on his way to India. The Portuguese returned in 1507 and made of Muscat a trading post and naval base until 1650 when the Imam Sultan bin Saif defeated the and drove the Portuguese away east to Goa, India. Muscat became the capital of an independent Oman in 1741,when the present dynasty assumed power.
Once in Muscat, you can enjoy rare glimpses of the rich and opulent cultural heritage of Arab land. For tourists that come from all over the world, Muscat holds a special charm with its grand forts, parks and museums. If you plan to make the best of your Muscat trip, do check out the historical forts of Muscat that portray the bygone.
Al Jalali and Al Mirani Forts are two major ancient constructions built by Portuguese in 1580. Now these two forts have been converted to museums. Everyone who come Muscat does not forget to visit these two places, as they are unique places that help to understand the history of Oman. The Portuguese watchtower is popular place among visitors who want to feel evening breeze flowing from the sea. The place is beautifully decorated with fountains. At night, these fountains are beautiful to watch at.
The beautiful Qasr Al Alam Royal Place is also an important place worthy of visiting. Two forts Mirani and Jelali are situated on either side of the palace and natural water harbour beneath it enhances the beauty of the scene. Visitors are not allowed to enter into the palace but they can photograph it as well as the surrounding areas without obstructions.
The Corinche Area is one of the best places for taking leisure walks. The place is full of affordable food outlets. People who want to know the social history of Oman should visit to Bait az-Zubair Museum. Qurum National Park aks Rose Gardens has a massive waterfall, a beautiful lake as well as an amusement park, which is not-to-miss place during the Muscat Festival.
Other famous parks worthy a visit are Riyam Park, Naseem Gardens, and Kalbuh Park. Some world famous factories are also opened for visitors including Omani Halway Factory and Amouage Perfume Factory that produce prestigious perfumes in the World.
There are many other museums in Muscat as well. They include Bait Al Zubair, Bait Muzna Gallery, Children's Museum, Marine Science and Fisheries Centre, National Museum in Ruwi, Natural History Museum, Omani French Museum, Omani Museum and the Sultan's Armed Forces Museum.
Those who visit The Oman Dive Centre can enjoy with various activities including trekking, rock climbing, camel racing, turtle watching, horseback riding and dolphin watching. It has apartments for those who want affordable accommodations. The center provides travelers with delicious food and many other facilities as well.
Muscat city, once a thriving and strategically located port of the Arabian peninsula in ancient times, is the capital of modern Oman. Its medieval appearance with two old Portuguese forts, Jelali and Merani, flanking the rocky cove around which the city is built, makes it a unique and unusually exotic place. Muscat's picturesque old buildings co-exist with modern commercial and residential quarters giving the city an ambiance of its own. the seaside palace of H.M. Sultan Qaboos bin Said, nestled between steep rocky hills, offers a spectacular sight, specially by night.
The Largest city in Southern Oman, Salalah has a unique charm with its coconut groves and banana plantations growing right to the water's edge. Its beautiful beaches of white sand are a heaven for swimmers and sea lovers. The rugged beauty of its fertile plains, its fresh water springs, its bustling souqs and tropical landscape leave a lasting impression on the visitors mind. The best time to visit Salalah is from June to September, When the monsoon rains lash the region, turning it into a tropical paradise.
The oasis city of Nizwa, the largest in the interior province, was the capital of Oman in the 6th and 7th centuries. Today it remains one of the most popular tourist attractions with its historical buildings and imposing fort built in the mid 17th century by Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al Ya'ribi. The town's immense palm oasis stretches for eight kilometers along the course of two wadis. It is famous for its bustling souq where tourists can buy exquisite copper and silver jewelry and other craft items.
The coastal city of Sohar was once an important Islamic port and the largest town in the country. Visitors will be attracted to its large and functional souq with handy tailors, fruit sellers, and fishermen vying for space, and its fort which stands apart with its four-story walls and six towers, an imposing sight overlooking the bay.
Sur has a ideal location in the northeast Province of Sharquiya and is a seafaring town, a fishing village and a trading port all in one. The highlight of the town is the dhow builder's yard of the coast just beyond the town. Sur started trading activities with the African coast as early as the 6th century A.D.. A walk through its labyrinthine streets reveal many fine old houses with carved doors, arabesque windows and other intricate details. Sur is also famous for its breeding sites of world's rare sea turtles in Ras Al Jinaiz, which has been declared a protected wild life area.
Separated from the rest of Oman by part of the United Arab Emirates, this is the northernmost part of the Sultanate. It's rugged mountains rise up to 2100 meters above sea level and the coast which juts into the strait of Hormuz has a spectacular fjord like look. It is no wonder that Musandam is also called "The Norway of the Middle East". Khasab Fort, Qadah Archaeological site, Jebel Harim Mountain, Shim Gulf and Strait of Hormuz are the most important attractions in Musandam.
Forts and Citadels :
Forts, citadels, towers and numerous historical sites serve as magnificent reminders of the rich heritage of Oman. The remote past of Oman dates back to several thousand years when man first appeared. When he settled and looked after his land and animals, he started building forts and citadels for his protection. Most of the forts, towers and fences were built in flourishing cities and urban areas for protection against intruders and as symbols of mightiness. Forts and citadels in Oman have a unique architectural designs and artistic patterns. The following are some of the most important and largest forts and citadels of Oman.
Jalali Fort :
One of the two forts constructed by the Portuguese to defend the Muscat port in 1587, it was first named as Sao Joa. It is in the eastern side of the port.
Merani Fort :
his western fort was completed in 1586 and was originally called Fort Capitan. The building of the two forts remain virtually unchanged, though restoration works were carried out in later times.
Nizwa Fort :
Built by Imam Sultan Seif Al Yarubi in 1641 AD is one of the largest monuments of Oman's historical and cultural legacy. It lies in the city of Nizwa, 175 km south of Muscat.
Jabrain Castle :
Built in 1688 AD and situated in Bahla, not far from Niawa is the most beautiful and magnificent historical monuments of Oman.
Rustaq (Hazim) Fort :
Situated in Rustaq, 160 km north-west of Muscat was built in 1702
Nakhl Fort :
This fort is built on a 200 ft. high mountain peak and it dates back to the pre-Islamic era. It lies in Nakhl which is 121 km from Muscat.
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE AR-SA MicrosoftInternetExplorer4
Wahiba Sands a mesmerizing landscape
The Wahiba Sands is a long, narrow strip of high dunes and sketchy woodland about 110 miles from north to south and about 50 miles from east to west along the unspoiled coastline of eastern Oman.
In the north of Wahiba Sands are the most incredible sand dunes, some reaching a colossal 300 feet high and separated by enormous depressions.
These beautiful dunes stretch as far as the eye can see and it is a spectacular sight especially in the evening and the morning, when the warm colours of the desert become much richer and the long shadows accentuate the splendour of these giant forms.
The sands are made of grains of rock, blown in from nearby eroded rocks and marine sediments and they are moving inland at a pace of about 30 feet per year.
Wahiba Sands is not just a desert landscape though. It encompasses areas of woodland as well as the mudflats and lagoons around Barr Al Hikman, where large migrant bird populations congregate in winter.
It is also home to around 180 plant species and 200 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.
Anybody who chooses to live in the environment of Wahiba Sands must be hardy and resilient to tolerate its potentially harsh climate, the Bedu people are just that.
There are over 3,000 Bedu of varying tribal origins who live here among the woodland on the fringes of the sands.
There are also a number of small settlements along the coast that are lived in by the local fishermen who take advantage of the rich fishing grounds of the Arabian Sea.
Evidence of human occupation in the sands dates back as far as 8,000 years.
Al Jebel al Akhdar
Al Jebel al Akhdar mountain range lies at the heart of the Al Hajar mountains of northern Oman and is characterised by soaring peaks, rugged canyons, terraced fruit orchards and rose gardens fed by freshwater springs. The area has spectacular views, exhilarating walks and secluded and tranquil camping.
The mountains here are the highest in Oman, standing 10,000 feet above sea level with access by car to a height of 7,000 feet.
Temperatures up here can reach -5°C in winter and remain below 30°C for most of the summer and because of the relatively high rainfall compared to the rest of Oman, the landscape further up into the hills is lush and green.
There are bushes and trees bearing nuts and fruit and most of the cultivation here is done on verdant terraces along the slopes of the mountains, which are dotted with natural springs. Apricots, peaches, figs, pears, plums, walnuts, almonds, delicious pomegranates and even grapes grow here.
Aflaj and Wadis The area is irrigated by traditional aflaj (sing. falaj) waterways.
Many of them are subterranean but when they are open to the elements, it is an alluring sight seeing the glistening channels cascading down the mountains.
Al Jebel al Akhdar also has hundreds of wadis. These are rocky gorges that fill up with water after the rains although many have running water all year round.
Many deep, clear, fresh pools are surrounded by palm trees, grasses and flowering shrubs creating stunning oases with a dramatic backdrop.
Much of the region consists of woodland abundant with junipers and thorn bushes, it is a wonderful contrast to the desolate beauty of much of the rest of Oman.
Up in the mountains are the villages of Saiq, Wadi Bani Habib and Al Ain, each overlooking a spectacularly dramatic landscape of peaks, gorges and wadis.
In March and April, the roses that are grown in this area fill the air with a sweet fragrance and local villagers distil the rose water.
Several interesting museums are popular with Oman visitors. The Oman Museum, established in 1974 at Medinat al-Alam, has been renovated and is now distinguished by a massive wooden entrance door in the Omani tradition. The surroundings have been improved and the layout of exhibits re-arranged and expanded.
In Muscat the Omani-French Museum, which was the French Consul's residence in 1896 has been restored to its former glory. A museum in a completely different modern setting is the Children's Museum, Where children can learn, through 'hands on' experience, basic scientific principles. The historical fort at Sohar also contains a museum and there are plans to install exhibits in the Cultural Center in Salalah.
One of the most visited museums, situated within the Ministry's complex, is the Natural History Museum. In 1995 a fossils exhibition was added as a National Day gift to the nation from PDO This museum, with its whale hall and displays of animals and birds, has an educational purpose as well as being of interest to tourists. Mention should also be made of two places appreciated by visitors but not part of the Ministry - the Sultan's Armed Forces Museum at Bait al-Falaj and the permanent Oil & Gas exhibition at Mina al-Fahal.
In order to start off the trip, Al Mirani Fort and Al Jalali Fort are the best historical sites that are located in the Qasr Al Alam Street. Build in the year 1580; they were used as prisons for the Portuguese. Presently, they have been converted to museums. If you want to visit a religious place, Grand Mosque is rated as the third largest mosque in the world. Grand Mosque is open to non Muslim visitors, however, is advised to keep the heads covered once inside the mosque. Grand Mosque’s hand made Persian rug, the Swarovski chandelier and marble paneling are some of the attractions that are famous throughout the world.
which is one of the popular places in Muscat has many affordable eating places. One can also visit the Mutrah Souk, one of the finest markets of Gulf region and well known for its fish.
Mutrah Souk :
is popular among tourists for its Omani food, handicraft and jewels. However, visitors are not allowed to enter the premises but they can take the pictures of the Mutrah Souk from outside.
Qurum National Park :
is another attraction in Muscat that has an exquisite collection of roses surrounded by a manmade waterfall, an amusement park and a lake. During the Muscat festival, Qurum National Park is a must visit place.
For history lovers, Bait az-Zubair Museum is the best place to refresh the history and the culture of the Omani tradition. Some other places to visit in Muscat include the Riyam Park, the Naseem gardens and the Kalbuh Park.
Also worth visiting in Muscat are the Amouage perfume factory; famous for its incenses and the Omani Halwah factory. In case you are more interested in museums, you can also check out the Bait Muzna gallery, the Marine Science and Fisheries centre, the natural History Museum, the Omani Museum, the Sultan’s Armed Forces museum, the Omani French museum and the Children’s museum.
These above stated tourist sites are must visit places for every tourist that comes to Muscat. In case you want to visit all these places, it is better to hire a cab and make a hassle free visit to all these places. If you have a tour arranger, all sight seeing facilities will be provided by the organization that also offers a guide who helps in interpreting the local language and making the tour all easier. So, if you are planning to visit Muscat, you cannot give the above stated places a miss as they are some of the well known tourist destinations of Muscat. So, enjoy sight seeing with your family and friends in Muscat.