Oman's capital is divided into three main districts: Muscat,
Mutrah and Ruwi. Muscat, the old walled port town, is dominated
by the sultan's palace, buildings of the Royal Court and government
offices. Two well preserved 16th-century Portuguese forts, Al
Jalali and Mirani, guard the entrance to Muscat, and the city
walls contain three beautifully carved original gates. The town's
old houses and narrow streets are overlooked by the hillside
Mutrah Fort. The Ali Mosque and the New Mosque beside the sea
add to the district's charm. Mutrah port is the capital's commercial
centre and its fish market, souk and many bazaars are well worth
visiting. Ruwi is the capital's business district and has excellent
streets for shopping. The National Museum, featuring fine displays
of Omani silverwork, and the Sultan's Armed Forces Museum, which
outlines Omani history, are located here.
The capital of the southern region is a city set amongst coconut
groves and banana plantations, sprawled along sandy beaches
that run the length of its plain. The lush vegetation makes
Salalah seem almost tropical, particularly as it is one of the
only places in the Arabian peninsular that catches the monsoon.
The Al-Balid ruins, site of the ancient city of Zafar, are a
major tourist attraction.
Situated in the northeastern province of Sharqiya, Sur is a
seafaring town, a fishing village and a trading port all rolled
into one. Famous for its traditional ship building, Sur started
trading along the African coast as early as the sixth century.
It is an old town with winding streets, carved wooden doors
and old arabesque buildings. The nearby village of Tiwi is also
worth a visit.
There is a very large and functional souk (market) here full
of tailors, fruit-sellers and fishermen. An imposing four-storey
fort with six towers overlooks the bay.
Archaeological excavation of the tumuli at the site of Souks
Bausharios is fascinating.
Now the main town in the interior province, with an immense
palm oasis stretching for 13km (8 miles) along the course of
two wadis, Nizwa had once been the country's capital during
the sixth and seventh centuries. Famous for its gold and silver
handicrafts, the centre of the town is dominated by the huge
circular tower of one of Oman's oldest and largest forts.
The 17th-century fortified palace situated here is notable for
its painted wooden ceilings and the splendid view across the
desert to the mountains.
Dating back to the third millennium BC, this ancient town has
seven miles of ancient defensive walls and is a World Heritage
Site. There is a good souk here and the town is known for its
pottery. The picturesque village of Al Hamra can be found nearby.
Literally 'The Green Mountain', and rising to nearly 3000m (10,000
feet), Jebel Akhdar is noted for its date palm groves, valleys
and terraced villages, including Bani Habib and Sharijah.
On the northern slopes of the Jebel Akhdar are the fortress
of Al Hazm, built in 1708, and the oasis town of Rostaq, containing
the tombs of Oman's early rulers. On the side of a deep wadi
on the south slope of the Jebel Akhdar, sits Misfah, one of
the most picturesque villages in Oman.
Encapsulates Oman's archaeology, history and culture. The National
Museum has a collection of silver, jewellery, weapons and ancient
stone artefacts. From here dhows cruise along the palm-fringed
coast and there are excellent fishing grounds and beaches.