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Oman is quite a distinctive state in the Persian Gulf. It differs from other places in Oman in that it is more “open” and has an open morality and a nature that has not been destroyed by technology. The attractions of this place include beaches and parks, mosques and fortresses, museums and markets. There is an extensive tourist infrastructure – hotels and sightseeing trails designed for travelers from other countries.
Rating of the best sights in Oman
|Ranking of the best sights in Oman||1||Sultan Qaboos Mosque||5.0|
|6||Muscat Royal Opera House||4.7|
|7||Sultan Taymur bin Fayzal Mosque||4.6|
|8||Al Jalali Fort||4.6|
|9||Al Houta Cave||4.5|
|10||Beit el-Zubayr Museum||4.5|
Sultan Qaboos Mosque
Sight rating: 5.0
This mosque is the main religious building of the Sultanate of Oman and one of the most famous landmarks of the country. The building is fairly new and was erected in 1992 to mark the 30th anniversary of his rule. In 1995 the project began, and 6 years later construction was completed. Qaboos took care of all the expenses.
The material used to build the mosque was Indian sandstone. The main prayer hall (also called “musalla”) is impressive in size: 6,500 people can be seated inside. There is a separate hall for women, accommodating 750 female Muslim worshippers. Together with its central dome, the building rises 50 meters above the ground. It almost has four 45-meter high minarets and a 90-meter high one.
The most interesting element of the interior is a huge and heavy carpet made in Iran. It has 1.7 billion knots and weighs 21 tons, completely covering the prayer hall. There is a Swarovski chandelier illuminating the musalla, and 34 smaller chandeliers hang in other parts of the mosque.
It is not always possible to visit the imposing building – most of the time the mosque is only accessible to Muslims who come to pray. For tourists of other religions, the entrance is open from Saturday to Tuesday mornings from 8 to 11 a.m. Children under 10 years old cannot enter.
Rating of the sight: 4.9
Sohar is considered the birthplace of the famous Sinbad the Mohair. It is located in the northern part of Oman, 230 kilometers from Muscat. The city is known for its long history of seafaring and has a large fish market, which the locals call the “Suk. It is home to the Sohar fortress of the same name. The name comes from the great grandson of biblical Noah.
Sohar Fort is built of white stone, which retains its original color even after many years of exposure to sunlight. The fortress has four-tier walls, which include six towers. Behind the fence is the main building, which is quadrangular and higher than the other parts of the fortress. Its facade is decorated with ornamental carvings.
The fortress has long since ceased to have a defensive function. The main building now houses a museum with artifacts relating to the history of Sohar Fort and the entire city. Tour guides can tell you about the life of the people who lived in these places more than a thousand years ago. Like his contemporaries, they were engaged in fishing and seafaring, trade and crafts, carried goods by sea to distant lands.
Rating of the sight: 4.8
Rustaq Fort is also in Sohar and is one of the oldest fortresses in Oman. It began to be built in the VI century, long before the Islamic era and the emergence of the Ottoman Empire. It was called “Qalat al-Qisra. The main part, however, was built considerably later, in 1250. The name Rustak, which means “the big village”, appeared at that time. The fort got its present appearance in the 17th century.
Now Rustaq is a tall white fortress, visible from a distance, but not very big. Part of the structure is hidden in the dense bushes of trees. The national flag of Oman flies on one of the towers. The fort is three-storey, each floor has a variety of rooms for different purposes.
The fort is usually open weekdays and weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday only until 11 a.m. To get to the central part you have to go through many doors. They have special small holes through which the defenders of the fortress would pour boiling oil on the attackers. The top platform offers a great view of the city of Sohar.
Rating of the attraction: 4.7
The market is located in the nearby capital city of Matrah and is one of the largest and oldest marketplaces in the country. Here, near Muscat harbor, lay an important point in the sea route to India and China. It was in the era of sailing ships that sailors stayed to trade in this place.
The market has a peculiar atmosphere: because of the converging roofs of the stalls it is semi-dark even during the day, and the sellers turn on their lamps for illumination. Residents of the city call the place “Al-Dalam” – “darkness” in Arabic. The most congested part of the market is between Al-Lawatiyah Mosque and Kur Bimba.
Al-Dalam in its modern form came into being in the sixties, when the population of the city had a demand for cheap goods. In the market you can buy clothes and shoes of local manufacture, fabrics and spices, jewelry, fruits. Even more exotic items such as Arabian muskets, Omani silver, and intricately crafted daggers are sold here.
Rating of the attraction: 4.7
Apart from the famous market, there is another place worth seeing in Matrakh, the Corniche street. It meanders along the coast for quite a long distance. The word “Corniche” is similar in meaning to our “cornice” – the street runs along the edge of the coastal cliff, following its curves. It is characterized by beautiful decorations – lanterns, fountains and white sidewalk.
The promenade contains a lot of street art. The most beautiful part of the street at night is the street illuminated by streetlamps and headlights and in the distance you can see a construction resembling a spaceship that stands in the Riyam Park. Not bad on the promenade either in the evening when the setting sun illuminates the mountains visible from here.
At any time of the day or night there is fast and heavy car traffic on the street. If you’re coming by car you’ll want to be careful and park off the road.
Muscat Royal Opera House
Rating of the attraction: 4.7
Theater lovers should first and foremost visit Muscat’s main opera house. The theater is located in the Shati Al Kourm district and is a model of modern architecture in Oman. In addition to the concert hall and auditorium, the theater complex includes a market with restaurants and stores, and a magnificent garden. The auditorium can seat 1,100 people.
Like many other attractions in Oman, the Muscat Opera House was built with money from Sultan Qaboos. The ruler of Oman was a lover of classical art. He ordered the erection of the theater in 2001, after the famous mosque had been finished. Opened the opera in 2011, the first play played was “Turandot”.
The opera house has hosted Arab artists as well as Western luminaries like René Fleming and Andrea Bocelli. In addition, there were Indians, cellist Yo Yo Ma played here and many other famous people from different parts of the world. People from Russia have performed here too – Mariinsky Theatre actors played Swan Lake.
Muscat’s theater is also famous for its architecture and interior, which combines authenticity and modernity. The interior of the building is decorated with craftsmen’s ornaments, original lighting and other decorative elements. You don’t have to have a ticket to see it all – there are guided tours for tourists in the morning.
Sultan Taymur bin Faisal Mosque
Rating of the attraction: 4.7
This mosque was also built on the initiative of the sultan. It is located in Muscat, in the Al-Mabil area. Completed only recently, in 2012, the mosque’s architectural style harks back to the 16th century Mongolian edifices. This is not only a religious sanctuary, but also a sightseeing attraction that should attract tourists – and therefore not only Muslims are allowed inside freely and for free.
The mosque exterior is dominated by three onion-shaped domes, one large and two smaller ones. Domes and other parts of the building are lined with marble. Inside, it has Arabic script paintings and beautiful arches and chandeliers. It bears some resemblance to the Mosque of Sultan Qaboos and the Opera House.
The ruler after whom the mosque is named was Qaboos’ paternal grandfather. He was in power from 1913 to 1932. There was no oil production in Oman at the time, so the country was not able to reach its present prosperity and wealth, but the Omani people believe that the Sultan ruled wisely and justly.
Rating of the sight: 4.6
This fortress is located in Muscat harbor. The fort was founded by colonists from Portugal in the 16th century, after the city had been twice raided by the Ottomans. In the 18th century the fortress was conquered twice by Persian troops, after which the structure was significantly rebuilt – so that little remains of the original fort.
After Oman became an independent state and the need for a defensive structure disappeared, the fortress was used as a prison. It was renovated after Qaboos came to power in 1970 and since 1983 it has been home to the Museum of Omani Cultural History. Only officials from other countries can enter, tourists are not yet allowed inside.
The fortress consists of two main towers. The wall connecting them contains holes for cannon fire. A garden has been laid out inside, and a courtyard of trees has been planted. The museum contains historical documents, old muskets, household items, and other exhibits.
Rating of the attraction: 4.5
It’s the only cave in Oman with hiking trails. It has been accessible to visitors since 2006, when it was equipped with stairs, paths, and electric lights. Despite the fact that the total length of the underground passages of Al-Huta is more than 4 kilometers, the sightseeing route is much shorter – about 500 meters.
It takes about 45 minutes to walk through the underground passages. Tourists can see two underground lakes, several halls with stalactites and stalagmites. Fairly high biodiversity of the cave. Here you can see bats, snails, spiders. The reservoirs are inhabited by endemic species of blind fish. Samples of the cave animals are displayed in a museum next to it, along with more than 150 different minerals and rocks found in the area.
Beit el-Zubayr Museum
Attraction Rating: 4.5
Beit al-Zubayr, an ethnographic museum located in the capital of Oman. It has been operating since 1998 and is dedicated to the traditional and modern crafts of the Omani people. The opening of the museum is due to the fact that with the course of industrialization and technological development, handicraft skills passed down in families from generation to generation have lost their practical significance, but the memory of this part of Omani culture must be preserved.
Beit el-Zubayr complex has three buildings and a garden. The museum has exhibits related in one way or another to Omani folk crafts – handmade clothing, edged weapons, ancient coins. There is a model of a barasti in the garden – a hut made of palm leaves, a house made of stone, a sample of an ancient boat, and a part of the ancient water supply system.
There are also objects made in modern times. There is also a small souvenir store on site where you can buy a variety of handmade items, scarves, jewelry, books, and more.
Rating of the sight: 4.5
This fortress is thought to be the oldest in Oman and is located on the eastern edge of the Bahla Oasis. The exact time of its construction is unknown – it is assumed that the structure was erected in the XII-XV centuries. The fort was once considered the capital of the Omani state. The fortress was the residence of the then ruling Nabkhani dynasty.
Bahla Fortress belongs to the chain of defensive structures running along the foothills of Jebel Akhdar Mountain – the Fort Rustaq belongs to this chain as well. The building was built on a stone foundation, and the walls were made of mud bricks. The height of the fortress walls is 12 meters, and towers are 4 times higher. The fort stands on a hill, noticeably towering above the rest of the city.
Until recently the state of the ancient fort was quite deplorable. In 1993 they began to restore the fortress, and the irreversible destruction was prevented. However, the work on the building is still underway and not always successful. According to local belief, it is the jinns who disturb the specialists-permanentists.
It takes at least an hour to walk the entire labyrinth formed by the outer walls. In the corners are high round towers. Inside the walled area are mud houses, large rooms for the sultan, and the homes of the soldiers who defended the fort. Not far from these structures is a small market with one-story stores. There is also an ancient mosque, built in the 14th century.
The Wahiba Desert
Rating of the sight: 4.4
The desert, named after the local Wahiba tribe, is located 190 kilometers south of Muscat. The space covered with undulating sand stretches for 180 km, occupying 12500 square kilometers. The dunes are really big here – you can even find ones that are 200 m high. Some of these mountains of sand have the peculiar property of being colored in different shades and hues, most often yellow and orange.
The desert is most interesting to scientists. There is a huge biodiversity of invertebrates – about 16,000 species – as well as 200 mammals and birds and 150 desert plants. For tourists is interesting to be in an endless sea of sand, to admire the colorful dunes. The desert has a permanent population of Bedouin nomads, who are ready to welcome travelers in their camps.
Rating of the attraction: 4.4
The sight, also called the Grand Canyon of Oman, is a gorge that is a kilometer deep. It is located at an altitude of about 2,000 meters, as if cutting through the middle of the country’s highest three-kilometer mountain, Jabal Shams. Next to the gorge, there is a large plateau which affords a magnificent view.
Mount Jabal Shams is considered sacred in Oman. The way to the top is closed, because there is a military radar station there. To get to the gate base is possible by car on an unpaved road. From there, however, there are no spectacular views. Tourists usually stay on the plateau near the canyon and do not go higher.
The plateau was once inhabited: this is reminded by the ruins of houses left here. The water pouring out of the mountain forms a small lake near the gorge. Huge stone canopies over the plateau provide shade for tourists to relax after the climb.
Attraction Rating: 4.3
Sur is a port city in eastern Oman. Here remained a lot of beautiful old houses with mosaic windows and beautifully made doors. The way of life here is also the same as it was in the old days – many residents live primarily by fishing. Sura has the ambiance of a fishing village.
In addition to fishing, shipbuilding has been practiced here for centuries. The local sailing ships are called dhows, and you can see dozens of them being made at once in Sur. Now in addition to the sail they are usually equipped with a motor. The ships are usually used for transporting people and goods.
Not to be forgotten is the nature reserve located near Sur. Giant sea turtles live there. Sometimes you can see the babies emerge from their eggs and head out to sea after they hatch.
Rating of the attraction: 4.3
Musandam is a peninsula in the very north of Oman, separated from the rest of the country by the UAE. It is connected to Muscat by a ferry. Here is a unique, very little human intervention preserved nature. Some residents of Musandam speak their own language, Qumzari, which many consider a dialect of Persian.
It is worth visiting the peninsula, isolated from the rest of Oman, for its unusual scenery – the double horizon of sea and mountains, winding bays and gulfs, deep gorges. The coastline of Musandam is reminiscent of that of Scandinavia. The beaches are not crowded, so you can enjoy privacy.
Musandam is also a good place for diving. Underwater swimmers can see beautiful underwater mazes, coral clusters and a huge variety of animal species. You can also go boating here. Dolphins live in the sea water, often accompanying the ship. And especially the trip will please fans of fishing – in the sea you can catch a variety of fish, including tuna.