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13 Incredible Landmarks in Oman You Don’t Want to Miss

Charlotte Boswell

One of the most beautiful and untouched parts of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is a fascinating and upcoming destination home to lush wadis, ancient forts and spectacular beaches. With such natural beauty and a rich and ancient history and culture there are a number of must-see landmarks whilst in Oman. Here is a list of our top 13 landmarks not to be missed.

1. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

The Grand Mosque of Muscat is a magnificent structure that dominates the capital’s skyline. A gift to Oman from Sultan Qaboos to mark his 30th year of reign in 2001, this is one of the world’s most beautiful and striking pieces of modern Islamic architecture. A particular highlight is the spectacular main prayer hall which houses an enormous Persian carpet, which is in fact the world’s second largest, woven by 600 women over four years. The Grand Mosque is still an active place of worship accommodating up to 20,000 worshipers, therefore visitors are required to dress modestly.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman

2. Nakhal Fort

Located in the Al Batinah region, Nakhal Fort is a large fortification built during the reign of Imam Said Bin Sultan during the early nineteenth century. Built around a rock – a common aspect of Omani forts – there are many quirky features to see during a visit to Nakhal including round towers to deflect cannonballs, spiked doors and gaps where boiling cauldrons of honey would have sat. During a visit it is also recommended to walk along the ramparts for fantastic views over the Batinah Plains.

Nakhal Fort in Oman

3. Wadi Bani Khalid

Wadi Bani Khalid surrounded by the Hajjar Mountains is a blissful desert oasis featuring clear emerald pools, rugged ravines and swaying date palms. A wadi is a dry riverbed that fills with water during heavy rainfall, however Wadi Bani Khalid - similar to many of Oman’s wadis – is full of beautiful green water throughout the year making it the perfect place to escape the desert’s dry heat. The large main pool can get busy on weekends (Friday and Saturday in Oman) with locals, but if you take a short walk over the bridge you will find narrow canyons and smaller cool pools that are much quieter.

Wadi Bani Khalid in Oman

4. Bahla Fort

Granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1987, Bahla Fort is one of Oman’s largest and grandest structures that overlooks the sprawling settlement of Bahla. Built by the Banu Nebhan, who were a dominant tribe between the 12th and 15th century, the fort plays homage to their remarkable architectural style including unbaked mud brick towers and stone foundations. Explore the decorated Mosque and sculpted panels that are still in good condition, but the star attraction here is the spectacular panoramic views from the fort’s battlements.

Bahla Fort in Oman

5. Al Mughsail Beach

One of Oman’s most beautiful beaches, Al Mughsail is home to white sand and blue sea framed by sheer cliffs that reach towards the Yemeni border. Close to Salalah in the south, Al Mughsail is also famous for its blowholes that puncture the rocks towards the end of the bay. This spectacular site can be seen year-round however are more volatile during the high seas of the Khareef, the south eastern monsoon. Take the path from the beach which will allow a close encounter with the dramatic jets of sea spray.

Al Mughsail beach in southern Oman

6. Royal Opera House Muscat

Opened in 2011 after Oman’s ruler Sultan Qaboos ordered the building of an opera house, the Royal Opera House in Muscat is the country’s premier venue for music, arts and culture. The opera house reflects modern Omani architecture with an amalgam of inlaid wood, marble and Arabic design and offers an auditorium, concert theatre, landscaped gardens and numerous boutique cafes and restaurants. Some of the venue’s most momentous events include performance from Plácido Domingo, Andrea Bocelli, Yo Yo Ma and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman

7. Wahiba Sands

Wahiba Sands in eastern Oman is an expanse of ever-changing desert terrain occupied by Bedouin tribes. An ocean of golden dunes under the unblinking Omani sun, Wahiba Sands offers the quintessential desert experience. Stay in a traditional Bedouin-style camp and enjoy rustic camel rides over the sand-baked sun and stargazing at night. Interestingly despite its barren appearance, the dunes are home to an extraordinary variety of flora and fauna. The majority of wildlife is supported by the underground water reserve.

Wahiba Sands in the Omani dessert

8. Jabreen Castle

Well-preserved and eccentric, Jabreen Castle was built by Imam Bil-Arab Bin Sultan in 1675 and acted as an important centre of learning for Islamic law, medicine and astrology. Located in a picturesque palm tree grove in Bahla, unlike other Omani castles, there is quite a lot to see within the battlement. Discover the burial chambers known for their carved vaults, admire the beautiful views from the courtyard and view the intricately painted ceilings.

Jabreen Castle in Oman

Photo credit: Hans Birger Nilsen

9. Nizwa Souq

The large and authentic souq at Nizwa is one of the oldest in the country. Known for its excellent array of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, Nizwa Souq is also famous for its handicrafts. Covered stalls are filled with colourful pottery, silverware and frankincense and the infamous silver khanjar, a traditional Omani curved dagger. A lot of the crafted pieces are exquisite due to the excellent master-craftsmanship that is followed in Oman.

Colourful pottery at Nizwa Souq in Oman

Photo credit: Robert Haandrikman

10. Ras al-Jinz

The beautiful beach resort of Ras al-Jinz sits on the easternmost point of the Arabian Peninsula. Not only is this pretty piece of coast home to sapphire sea and golden sand dotted with ragged rocks, it is also a very important nesting site for endangered green turtles. During a visit to Ras al-Jinz, take a tour at night to the protected beach with a warden and witness the green turtles as well as other species including loggerhead, olive ridley and hawksbill turtle, who call this area home.

Ras al-Jinz beach in eastern Oman

Photo credit: John Crane

11. Al Jalali Fort

During the occupation of the Portuguese during the 16th century, Al Jalali Fort was built to protect Muscat’s harbour after previous attacks from the Ottomans. Since then the fort has endured an interesting history; it was captured twice by the Persians in the early 18th century, acted as a jail for a royal family member and also was Oman’s main prison up until the 1970’s. It is quite a spectacular sight during palace military occasions where royal yachts sail into the harbour, bagpipers perform in the battlements and fireworks are reflected in the shimmering water.

Al Jalali Fort in Oman

Photo credit: Cazz

12. Bin Ali Tomb

Housing the remains of Mohammed Bin Ali, a 14th century Islamic scholar and descendent of the Prophet Muhammad, this quirky tomb marks the entrance to the small ancient town of Mirbat. The white-washed building looks striking against the terracotta rocks and hills with the onion domes as the most distinctive feature. Similar to most other tombs in Oman, the site is kept minimal with a green cloth covering the burial site and a holy cemetery surrounds the building.

Bin Ali Tomb in Oman

13. Nizwa Fort

Built during the 17th century over a 12 year period by the first imam of the Yaruba dynasty, Sultan Bin Saif Al Yaruba, Nizwa Fort is located in the historic city of Nizwa some 160km south of Muscat. Built on a subterranean stream, this formidable stronghold played a significant part during turbulent periods of Omani history. The imposing circular tower is the most remarkable part of the fort which stands at 30 metres tall. Enjoy fantastic 360 degree views of the Hajar Mountains and rolling date plantations from the tower.

Nizwa Fort in Oman

Photo credit: Hans Birgir Nilsen

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