Posted by: travelrat | March 16, 2011

















Nizwa: 8th February 2011

While I can understand building fortifications around the coast and the harbour, I did wonder why the 17th Century Omanis chose also to build castles so far inland. As we drove through the mountains, there seemed to be a defensive work of some sort on top of almost every other hill.


However, I’m reading Wilbur Smith’s ‘Monsoon’ at the moment which, although a work of fiction, was set in the area and period in question, and I hope to have a slightly better understanding of Omani history after I’ve read it.

What I do know about this particular castle is that it was built in the 1650s by one Sultan bin Saif … someone of that name, who may have been the same person, drove the occupying Portuguese from Oman, and went on to occupy most of the East African coast. And, of course, the castle was added to considerably over the years.

There’s a small museum within the fort, which seems, on inspecting the artefacts, to have really been a fortified palace.

There’s a covered suq, or market nearby, where meat, vegetables and fish are sold. But, we didn’t go in there. Most of us browsed around the shops immediately outside the castle walls. I hesitate to apply the description ‘souvenir shops’ to these, for they seemed to be offering quality pottery and metalwork, rather than the touristy tat you sometimes see in such places. Craft shops, maybe?

Prominent among the goods on offer was the traditional curved Arab dagger. But, nobody bought one. We’d been sternly warned that, if we did, it wouldn’t be allowed back aboard the ship.


  1. Hi Keith,
    It is fascinating walking around these type of places. By the look of what is actually offered in the shops, they need to learn a bit about tourists I feel, doesn’t seem a lot to choose from does there.

    I assume I’m like a lot of people, I like to pick up something small from each place that I visit that I really like as a souvenir and a reminder I suppose, and it’s always nice if you can find something that actually relates to that place. The money that can be made off souvenirs is quite a bit, but you have to have the right items.

    • There was much more inside the shop, but the light wasn’t very good, and I didn’t get any satisfactory pictures … I’m assuming the pottery can tolerate the sunlight better.

      We did buy a fridge magnet, and looked to add a plate for the kitchen wall to our collection, but didn’t see any we liked.

      (The ‘Souvenir Queen’, who we met in Egypt, had to be Annie. Either she had a lot of friends, or her sitting room must resemble the Cairo Museum.)

  2. I wonder if it was safer inland due to inaccesibility via road or something like that. Either way, I’d love to see it. And I would be a souvenir nut. My living room would resemble the Cairo museum. Hahaha.

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