EXPLORE OMAN'S OLD CAPITAL NIZWA
WHAT TO SEE IN NIZWA
It was once a center of trade, religion, education and art. Even though Nizwa is quite small, the city has a few unmissable sights and is also the perfect place for exploring the nearby area.
The absolute highlight and the reason to visit Nizwa is the old town. In the old town, you’ll find the very photogenic fort, the souq as well as the old part of the city Harat al-Aqr.
I always start visiting the most important sights, so if anything goes wrong I can back to it.
Nizwa Fort & Castle
Nizwa fort is the most famous (and most photogenic) one in Oman. No wonder, when you see the iconic fortress like towers against the blue sky and the palm trees. The fort was the administrative seat of authority for the presiding Imams and Walis in times of peace and conflict.
It took 12 years to finish the fort. The fort was built as a defence. Besides the tall walls, one method for keeping unwanted visitors away was pouring hot date syrup on intruders.
Nizwa Castle is pretty hard to distinct from the fort. It was built in the 8th century and about a 100 years later expanded. When the fort was built in the 1600s, the castle was renewed.
You can visit the many rooms including the important Date Stores. It’s all about dates here. There’s also a small museum here.
Almost a part of the fortress is the Al Qala’a Mosque.
The souq is Oman’s oldest and divided into dates (120 different kinds), crafts, silver, food and pottery. Nizwa is also famous for its silver. I bought a frankincense holder, but in copper; a metal that is also one of Oman’s many resources.
I’m a tea drinker, so I bought cardamom tea – the karak tea you get everywhere. I love it I haven’t opened it as I write this, but think I will tomorrow.
The market is also where you buy your khandar – the beautifully crafted and ornamental silver ceremonial dagger. It’s even part of their flag as you can see at the earlier image.
HALWA is a sweet. Everyone has their own recipe, but it’s often made with butter, starch, sugar, nuts, saffron, tapioka, cardamom and dates? Put them together to a sticky, dark jelly-like paste eaten with a spoon. Halwa is often enjoyed with the wonderful Omani coffee (which I did like, and I don’t drink coffee).
Notice, that weekend here is Friday and Saturday, and the shops and the souq close mid day. As I discovered the hard way.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN NIZWA
For a quick bite have a Turkish shawarma and a the popular lime-mint jucie at Shawathin. At the small, centrally located shop you can get bread, chicken, vegetables and pickled onions cheaply in this expensive country.
Another great spot – guessing on the queue – is Mashawi al Wadi next to the entrance to the souq. Unfortunately, I went right when everything closed Friday.
Al Diyar Hotel
Nizwa is the gateway up n the mountains and further on. If you have more time, the surrounding area has some fantastical sights. Nearest is the Falaj Daris Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of one of the largest irrigation channels in Oman. Also Jibreen or Jabreen castle, the old city of Birkat al Mouz and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bhala Fort.
I will write more on these in another post.