Staff Review

Bahla and Jabrin forts in Oman


18 Nov 2016

by The Kirker Team

Kirker Holidays

Despite having travelled to many parts of the Middle East, I had never had the opportunity to explore the historic sites of Oman until recently, so I took the opportunity on a recent trip to visit the old Capital of Nizwa and to explore two of Oman’s most famous forts, Bahla and Jabrin. Unlike some of its more flashy modern neighbours, Oman boasts fascinating and well-preserved historic towns, which can make a visit here culturally rewarding as well as relaxing and sun-kissed. 'Don, our Driver/Guide for the day, arrived at the hotel in a very comfortable 4x4 a few minutes early. Arriving from the airport a couple of days earlier, I noticed that the mountains along the route were all slightly different in colour, so I had an opportunity to ask Don about the different minerals, beyond Frankincense, silver, gold and copper, which the Omani’s have been mining for thousands of years.'The journey to Nizwa took just over 90 minutes, driving through the Sumail Gap that divides the Western and Easter Hajar Mountains (spectacular scenery) and onto the old capital of Oman, Nizwa known for its silver Souq and the big round fort built during the period of the Yaruba dynasty. Firstly I visited a bustling local market, where I was able to try local produce including sweets made out of date syrup and plenty of almonds in all varieties. We then worked our way through the narrow streets of the Souk, to the fort. It’s by far the most visited attraction in old Nizwa, built in 1668 AD by Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al Ya'rubi. Two cannons guard the main entrance to the fort which opens into various rooms - forming a museum today. Having the guide really brought the scene to life, and helped me visualise how it was used to defend against the enemy. Fascinatingly, they used hot date syrup as a weapon, which is evident still from visible traces at the entrance of the Fort. I can highly recommend climbing the 60 steps or so to reach the top as the views of the surrounding date palms and hills are simply breathtaking.''We then headed to Bahla, “the magic city”, with a lunch stop in a friendly local restaurant - the journey takes about 25 minutes from Nizwa altogether. Bahla Fort is Oman’s oldest, with approximately 12kms of ancient wall surrounding the actual town, and it has now been placed under UNESCO protection. The town is also known for its pottery, a local industry which continues to this day.'Jabrin Fort is a little further; however en route, we drove up a small mountain to give us an opportunity to have an amazing panoramic view of Bahla, the Fort and the surrounding area. Despite being high season it wasn’t too busy at Jabrin as it was later in the day by this stage. The fort has a lot more to see than Bahla. Built by the local Banu Nabhan tribe that ruled between the mid-12th and 15th centuries, it falls in between Bahla and Nizwa historically, and the style is quite different. This Fort is built as more of a “Palace” within a walled courtyard than a fortification, and there is a lot more art to see here than at Bahla or Nizwa. With the Djebel Akhdar as its backdrop, again breath-taking views from the top, the setting is spectacular too.'Afterwards, we returned to Muscat which took little over 2 hours, just in time for a well-earned dinner.'

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