This destination has no photos. Upload the first!
Written by HELEN001 on 11 Jan, 2005
Heading west along the coast from Muscat and taking Route 15 into the interior is a spectacular trip with breathtaking views of the Jebel Akhdar Mountains. Weathered primarily by the sun and wind, they are unlike any to be seen in Europe. Rugged and raw,…Read More
Heading west along the coast from Muscat and taking Route 15 into the interior is a spectacular trip with breathtaking views of the Jebel Akhdar Mountains. Weathered primarily by the sun and wind, they are unlike any to be seen in Europe. Rugged and raw, with huge folds in the strata, each peak is a different colour, indicating the different minerals present in the rocks. Dirt tracks lead across a mile or so of dry gravel plain to small villages that cling precariously to the sides of the overshadowing mountainsides, each surrounded by its own palm oasis which stands out as a bright green splash against the rock backdrop. Numerous dry wadis, full of enourmous boulders, hint at the force of the water when flash floods pour off the mountains and across the road. Red water-level markers indicate when the wadi is too dangerous to cross. Deaths are not uncommon when these markers are ignored and cars are swept away. Scrubby vegetation grows by the roadside, with ubiquitous goats climbing into the branches to find food. Equally commonplace are the numerous watchtowers perched on the lower hills, most in various states of ruin, that used to guard what has been the main trade route from Muscat to the interior for hundreds of years.
Ancient Nizwa, once the capital of the interior, is surrounded by vast date-palm plantations irrigated by the Daris Falaj. Introduced by the Persians 2,500 years ago, a falaj is a system of underground channels fed by mountain springs and now used throughout Oman. Years ago, the allocation of water to individual plots was measured by time using sundials. The falaj in Nizwa is the largest in Oman.
Although the layout of the old centre of Nizwa has remained unchanged for centuries, the character has not. The traditional souk is now in a modern arcade and, in a slightly bizarre attempt at 'restoration', the authorities have painted all the buildings in town in a shade of brownish bronze. This does not, however, detract from the beauty of the mosque, with its blue and gold dome, best viewed from the ramparts of the neighbouring fort. The fort itself, which is big, rather than beautiful, gives a great view over the town, the plantations, and to the northeast, Jebel Shems, which at 9870 feet is the highest mountain in eastern Arabia.
Nizwa is also renowned for fine silverware, in particular the applique and etched-line styles found on the kohl boxes and khanjar daggers worn by men as part of the traditional Omani dress. These can bought in the souk and from small workshops scattered around the town.
The journey to Nizwa from Muscat is on a good-blacktop dual carriageway, and depending on how many photo stops you make, it can be made in a few hours. There is also a regular bus service from Muscat, which is timetabled (at the time of writing) in such a way as to make a day trip possible by bus.