Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Castles, Forts and Mountain Villages

After a lovely day in Mutrah, we set off for the mountains to Nizwa.  On our first afternoon there we decided to visit Nizwa Fort.

The fort was built in the 1650s by the second Ya’rubi Imam, although its underlying structure goes back to the 12th Century.  It is Oman's most visited national monument. The main bulk of the fort took about 12 years to complete and was built above an underground stream. The fort is a powerful reminder of the town's significance through turbulent periods in Oman's long history. It was a formidable stronghold against raiding forces that desired Nizwa's abundant natural wealth and its strategic location at the crossroads of vital routes.

The design of the tower, complete with battlements, turret, secret shafts, false doors and wells incorporates a great deal of architectural deception.  Access to the top is only by means of a narrow twisty staircase barred by a heavy wooden door studded with metal spikes to exhaust the enemy and impede their progress to the top of the tower. Those who did manage to run the gauntlet of hurdles risked being burnt by boiling oil or water that was poured through shafts which opened directly above each set of doors. Date syrup, a liquid that oozed from bags of dates stored in special date cellars, also came in handy as an alternative to oil and water.

Just outside the fort is Nizwa Souk.  It's an amazing place for pots, silverware and frankincense.

Bahla Fort was built in the 13th and 14th centuries and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The following day we got up early to travel up into the mountains to the mountain village of Misfat.  It was a great drive!

View of the Hajar Mountains in the Al-Dakhiliyah region.

We stopped for breakfast in the lovely old mountain village of Misfat, where the stone houses cling onto the mountain amid date plantations.

Breakfast at Misfat Old House

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