If you have been in Oman for many years and have not yet visited the Nizwa Fort, which is less than a couple of hours drive from Muscat, you might have to do some serious soul searching. The 9th century Nizwa Fort is not just the cynosure of tourists but also the pride of Nizwa and worth visiting as a day trip.
For adults as well as children, the fort presents interesting facets of a bygone era apart from a stunning view of the landscape and food for thought once you come face to face with its intriguing interiors and artefacts on display. Being there instantly transports one to the interesting past of the sultanate.
Once within the premises of this imposing fort, it is quite easy to understand why it is one of the most visited monuments in Oman. The central tower of the fort – 45m in diameter and 34m tall – is said to be the largest round tower in Arabia. This monument is actually a combination of a castle and a fort, and while the ‘Nizwa Castle’, was built in the 9th century, the fort section was added in the 17th century.
The fort and castle are linked by means of intricate corridors and nearby is the popular Nizwa Souq, famous for traditional artefacts. For the benefit of visitors, the fort and castle have adequate signage in Arabic and English to guide and enlighten people.
What’s most unique about Nizwa Fort is its circular shape, unlike all other forts in Oman. There are other unique aspects, too, like its extremely thick walls, many wells inside, the excellent defence system within and the secret mechanisms for trapping intruders.
It’s worth climbing the 60 steps to the platform of the tower, to each of the viewpoints, from where you can see an expansive oasis of date palms and the Hajar Mountains.
The Fort was built in the early part of the 17th century by Imam Sultan bin Saif al Yarubi and it took approximately 12 years to complete.
The castle was built in the 9th century and renewed in 1624.
It contained rooms for the Imam, his family, his guests and the royal guards. These rooms are now decorated and used to display artefacts.
The fort has seven wells and multiple openings for stationing the fighters defending the fort.
On display are a kitchen, a coffee-making room and a date store, besides ancient jewellery and frankincense.
Also on display, is a set of traditional face masks worn by ladies of yore, which reminds one of the masks currently worn by people during the pandemic.
Dr Abdullah al Ghafri,
Professor, Nizwa University
“The best feature of Nizwa Fort is its circular shape which makes it strikingly unique when compared with other forts in Oman, whether Bahla Fort, Rustaq Fort, Al Hazm Castle or Muttrah Fort and Jalali-Mirani forts in Muscat, all of which are rectangular in shape. The other most striking feature is the fact that it is located in the heart of Nizwa city, close to the Nizwa Souq.
Ahmed al Busaidi
I think, every part of Nizwa Castle has an important aspect of defence created within its structure, with a reserved place for the ruler or the person managing the affairs. I am particularly impressed by the huge central tower which serves as the focal point of all defence activities, as the very goal of a fort is to defend its reside