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Friday, July 18, 2014

Nizwa: Historical Heart of Oman

Nizwa is one of Oman’s older cities and used to be its capital between the 6th and the 7th century. Situated at the base of the mighty Hajar mountains, it used to be a center of trade, religion, education and art. Today, Nizwa is a very well developed city that has kept its historical heritage intact.

Beautiful Jabreen Castle near Nizwa, Oman
At about 150 kilometers from Oman’s capital city of Muscat, Nizwa is a pretty popular spot on the Oman tourist trail. Apart from soaking in the rich history of this place, the tourists visit other popular attractions situated close to Nizwa.

Bird's eye view of Nizwa town, Oman
These include the beautiful mountain getaways of Jebel Akhdar and Jebel Shams - the highest peaks on the Hajar mountain range, the oasis city of Al Hamra, the beautiful coastal city of Sur and the sensationally flowing dunes of Wahiba Sands. As the road infrastructure is of good quality, all these destinations are within 2 to 3 hours from Nizwa city. Tourists can either opt for day trips from Nizwa, if they are in a hurry or make overnight halts at these other destinations.

Elderly Omani Man at the entrance of Jabreen Castle, near Nizwa, Oman
Nizwa has extremely dry weather throughout the year except for some rains during the winter months. It is very hot in summer and has pleasant to warm weather for the rest of the year. This makes for great sightseeing as you are generally blessed with blue skies and bright sunshine.

From the top of Jabrin Castle, Oman
Nizwa is a famous marketplace for this part of Oman and hence its traditional souk and its goat market are very popular with both the locals and the tourists. It is also a huge date growing area and hence the dates here are in much demand. You will get a good idea about this when you walk the various aisles of the date souk of Nizwa.

Large and Beautiful Mandoos for sale at Nizwa Souk, Oman
The Nizwa souk is also an ideal place for tourists to pick up some local souvenirs. Each shop in and around this souk showcases enough items to keep you enthralled and interested. And then there is the famous spice market with saffron, rose petals and much more. The entire souk experience is one of the highlights of a Nizwa holiday.

Lots of date palms as seen from the top of Jabrin castle, Oman
Nizwa’s historical trail begins very much in its city center at the famous Nizwa fort. This part of Nizwa, which includes the fort and the souk has retained much of its traditional outlook and forms a great spectacle for the tourist.

Nizwa mosque and town as seen from the top of Nizwa Fort
The tour of Nizwa fort will take you deep into its history, the Arabic language, the trade routes, the evolution of religion here and much more. My favorite part of the fort is the top from where you can see the entire view of the Nizwa city and the mountains beyond.

Old Arabic Script inside Jabreen Castle, Oman
Once you are through exploring the fort and the souk, you will go to the world heritage site of Falaj Daris, one of the most important irrigation systems of Oman. Then, you will head to the 17th century Jabreen castle, located just outside of Nizwa city. This beautiful castle offers a great preview of of Omani craftsmanship.

Pot on the roof of Jabrin Castle, Oman
An audio tour transports you back into the era of Al Immam BilArab bin Sultan Al Y’aribi, for whom this castle was built. You can weave through its many rooms, see its artifacts and cannons, climb up its stairs and see the landscape beyond and feel the history. The audio tour is very detailed and descriptive and helps you appreciate the beauty of this place.

Watch tower at one corner of Jabreen Castle, Oman
In sum, there is a lot of historical heritage and market frenzy in Nizwa and a lot of natural beauty around it. Make sure this historical heart of Oman is in your itinerary on your next Oman holiday.



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