The historic town of Nizwa, two hours from Muscat, is the second-biggest tourist destination in Oman. Surrounded by thick palm oasis and some of the country’s highest mountains, it forms a natural gateway to the historic sites of Bahla and Jabrin. Firoze Edassery goes in search of the ancient ruins, forts and souks of Nizwa.
Nizwa Souq has remained for hundreds of years home to a number of local industries. A day spent at the refurbished souqs in Nizwa and the surrounding fort is definitely worth it. There were produce stalls, butchers, pottery, date shops, gun shops (for hunting), hardware stores, tourist shops, jewellery, tailors and even a live goat and cattle market held every Friday. Livestock owners, both women and men from nearby areas, bring their animals – mainly sheep, goats, cattle and at times even camels – to the market where they are registered. Registration includes a cursory check of the health condition, judging by appearance and a quick look into the mouth. The livestock owners hire a commercial seller, letting him know their intended price. He then runs with the animal in a circle shouting out the figure. Prospective buyers looking at the animal, shout in their offer. The commercial seller receives a commission when a sale is accomplished. He has to include this amount beforehand in the price which he seeks for the animal.
A short walk from the souq is ancient Nizwa Fort (9:00-16:00 / Friday closes at 11:00). Its history dates back to the middle of the 9th Century, today the fort is a museum which gives an insight into Oman’s history and culture. The high tower (left) of the fort gives great views of mountain and town.
From Nizwa a drive to Al Hamra will take you to a town where many houses were made from mud. Take an atmospheric walk through the houses and date oasis. On the slopes of the mountain above Al Hamra is the village of Misfat al Abreen a picturesque village of old homes and narrow streets. It has a Falaj system which supplies water to date palms and vegetables