A New Era of Commerce Innovation
It makes sense to visit both on the same day. If you are planning on doing your Oman souvenirs shopping at Nizwa Souq, make sure you have a place to stash your finds while you explore the fort. Otherwise, it might make more sense to reverse your itinerary and visit the fort first.
The main fort is round in shape—which makes it unique among its peers—and surrounded by a complex of intertwined storage rooms, living quarters, passageways, prayer rooms and communal spaces. In its heyday, Nizwa Fort actually served as a small enclosed city, home to Nizwa’s Imam and designed to house and protect an entire army during enemy raids.
This fort isn’t UNESCO-listed like its cousin in nearby Bahla, but the restoration work both inside and outside is flawless. It’s a lot of fun to clamber around and explore. The fort’s centrepiece is its central courtyard with zigzag staircases that accommodate the curve of the rounded walls. Beyond this, there is a network of rooftops that offer spectacular views over Nizwa Souq and the city. After ascending a few different levels, I got a good look at the minaret and dome of the nearby Nizwa Mosque.
As I dashed across the courtyard from the shallow alcove where I was hiding into the shelter of a nearby archway, I felt the midday sun sear my skin. A moment of pain before the reprieve of another cool, shady spot. But something caught my eye: the contours of scalloped adobe falling in a silhouette across the smooth, packed clay of the courtyard. I had to brave the sunlight for a moment longer just to get a photo.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the sun twists in the sky, altering the hues and textures of the saruj plaster, the adobe-like covering made from local clay that gives Nizwa Fort and so many other Omani buildings their earthy tone. Shadows rise and fall, casting different architectural elements into relief and revealing wicked shapes and patterns that were invisible just a few minutes earlier.
Deep in its shadowy depths, Nizwa Fort houses a small museum that is very well done and well worth a look in. Entrance to the museum is included in the ticket price.