Best things to do in Oman
Find out more about those top places in Oman
Muscat is one of the oldest cities in the world and was one of the most important trading hubs in ancient times, with its port attracting merchants from all over the world.
Although not as popularly now - It is currently the capital and largest city of Oman, located at the north-eastern part of the country while being surrounded by mountains and deserts. A visit to Muscat would have you visiting the Al Alam Palace, the famous Mutrah Souq, and Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
Known as the ceremonial palace of Sultan Qaboos of Oman, it is one of the finest architectural works in the city of Muscat. The Palace is one of several Royal residences belonging to the Sultan Qaboos dynasty built over 200 years ago by Imam Sultan bin Ahmed. Al Alam which means “The flag” was built over the site of the former British embassy – according to legends, there used to be a flagpole on the grounds and any slave who touched the flag pole was granted freedom. Visitors can’t access the palace but are allowed to take pictures.
One of the most visited places in Muscat, the Mutrah Souq is a bit chaotic at its peak time and might be a bit too much for first time visitors. Known locally as the Al Daham (which means darkness in Arabic) due to the fact that its crowded stalls hardly allow light rays in, requiring shoppers to use lamps to navigate their way through the market. It is the number one place in the city to find all you are looking for and to test your bargaining skills. Items sold at the Mutrah Souq range from antiques to vegetables and fruits.
Built as a gift to the nation from Sultan Qaboos to mark his 30th year of reign, the mosque is the biggest in Oman. The 20,000 capacity Mosque is hard to miss - with a single dome and 5 minarets, its exterior and interior are perfectly designed to fit Oman’s heritage. However, the interior of the mosque is the main highlight of the building, its prayer hall is cover by a beautiful Persian carpet that is 70 m by 60 m wide and its regarded as the largest hand – loomed Iranian carpet in the world after the one found in the Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
The Bait Al Zubair is a privately owned museum located on Al Saidiya Street in Old Muscat, opened in 1998 it is funded by the founders, the Zubair family. Established to promote the art and culture of the Omani people, the museum main feature is an art gallery known as the Gallery Sarah. There are often exhibitions at the gallery and visitors get to see an array of paintings, photographs and sculptures. Asides the gallery there is also a gift shop and a café.
There are quite a number of forts in Muscat, and they basically have the same story and similar attractions. But if you are going to visit any consider the Mutrah Fort as your first choice. Built by the Portuguese in the 1950s, it was designed to protect the city against the attacks of the Ottoman army. The fort is still used for military purposes - visitors are rarely allowed in but can have fantastic views from its flanks.