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The illustrious capital of Oman during the 6th and 7th centuries, Nizwa is today a small but prosperous city situated at the western base of the rugged Hajar Mountains in the region of Ad Dakhiliyah. It enjoys a strategic location on former trade routes linking Muscat, the interior and Dhofar, and the city’s traditional mercantile zeal can still be glimpsed in the bustling Nizwa souq – a teeming public market where meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and spices are sold along with hand-crafted goods like pottery, leather and copperware. Livestock, too, is peddled by itinerant herdsmen and shepherds.
As a former centre of trade, education, art and religion, Nizwa is home to a slew of fine architecture, including the most important historic monument in Oman – the Nizwa fort. Formerly the administrative seat for local Imams, the fortress – whose foundations reach a solid 30 metres into the ground - is a truly behemoth structure of sand-stone turrets, battlements and impenetrable walls. Built in the mid-17th century by Imam Sultan Bin Said Al Ya’rubi, it took 12 years to complete and withstood a number of attacks throughout the centuries. As late as the 1950s, the structure was bombed by the British on behalf Sultan Said bin Taymour, who sought to quell a local uprising. The fortification’s interior is an intriguing maze of halls, rooms, terraces and corridors.Read more
Nizwa is also celebrated for its date plantations; both khala and khunaizi varieties are grown locally and are considered the finest dates in the country. Since ancient times, the falaj daris has provided the irrigation necessary for their cultivation. Fed by a mountain spring, the falaj carries the water along a total of some 3.6 kilometres of man-made channels. It is a major archaeological attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.