High circular towers, unique arches, great walls and huge buildings, this is what visitors see of Oman’s forts and castles. Nevertheless, the truth is that every brick in these buildings has lots of hidden engineering gems and architectural beauty that reflects Oman’s great army minds. Here is a mind-blowing tour of the history and heritage of the unique forts and castles around Oman.
Nizwa Fort was established in the 1650s by Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al Ya’rubi, and took around 12 years to be built because it lies over an underground stream. It is one of the most visited national attractions in Oman for the historical significance that it represents, being the main administrative seat of authority for Nizwa’s Wallis and Imams (rulers) during peace and war times. The foundations of the fort go deep into 30 meters (98 feet) under the ground.
Its main part is a 30 meter tall tower, which has inches-thick walls to endure the barrages of mortar fire. There are two cannons at the fort’s entrance, and four on its rooftop that used to protect the city in war times. Inside the fort, there is a maze of rooms, narrow staircases and corridors, high-ceiling halls, doorways and terraces. All of which used to protect Omani fighters during wars and prevent their enemies from barging in. Now the fort is surrounded by Nizwa’s traditional souq, and holds a museum which tourists can visit when they going around the fort.
The village of Bahla is an ancient oasis in Al Dakhliya region in the northern center of Oman. For the fertility of its sands and its unique pottery, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Bahla Fort is located at the foot of the highlands of Al Jabal Al Akhdar (The Green Mountain), and was built in the 13th and the 14th centuries. Like Nizwa Fort, it consists of circular towers, and wooden doors, yet it has a big backyard.
Nakhal Fort, also known as Husn Al Heem (Al Heem Castle), was named after the state of Nakhal in Al Batinah Region in northern Oman. The history of the fort extends before the Islamic period, and it went under several renovations until it was rebuilt in the 17th-century. The fort is built over a rocky area at the foot of Jebel Nakhal (Nakhal Mountain), which is a part of Al Hajar Mountain area. The fort hosts a weekly goat auction market and inside, there is a museum with displays of historic guns.
Al Rustaq Fort is another famous Omani fort that was built in Al Rustaq in Al Batinah Region and is on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. It was built in the 13th-century in a strategic position between the coast and several mountains. It is also known to be one of the biggest forts in Oman and has four towers, a mosque, a prison and its own water-irrigation system.
Al Hazm Castle
Al Hazm Castle was built at the beginning of the 18th-century in Al Rustaq city in Al Batinah Region northern Oman. It was established by Al Yarubi tribe, which ruled Oman for a long time and are known for fighting the Portuguese out of Oman. They also built Nizwa Fort and Jabreen Castle. Nevertheless, Al Hazm Castle has a more technologically-advanced structure, as it was built to withstand cannon attacks and so its ceilings weren’t built with wood unlike the others. Although the castle was built for defense purposes, it still features some architectural beauty as it was also a residence for Al Yarubi Imams. In the entrance, there is the intricate Indian-wood gate as well as the unique engravings inside. Al Hazm Castle is declared as one of the unique Omani castles in the UNESCO World Heritage sites.