Old Muscat

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22 travelers at this place

  • Day38

    Muskat Sightseeing

    October 30, 2019 in Oman ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Wir sparen uns die teure Hop-on Hop-off Bustour, schließlich haben wir ein eigenes Auto. Also spielt Sabrina Busfahrer und wir fahren die Orte ab, an die uns auch der Bus bringen würde. Nur besser, da wir in unserem eigenen Tempo - und jeweils bis vor die Haustür - fahren können 😜

    Wir sehen Unspektakuläres wie das Parlamentsgebäude, diverse Stadtautobahnen und den Business District, aber auch Highlights wie den Palast des Sultans und die Marina. Hier lassen wir uns zum Lunch nieder und genießen chillige Musik, sehr gutes Essen und sehr guten Espresso (ja, das ist erwähnenswert im Land des Löslichen Kaffees und Tees).

    Gleich am frühen Morgen besuchen wir übrigens die Grand Mosque - und sie ist wirklich riesig. In der Moschee liegt der zweitgrößte handgewebte Teppich und hängt der zweitgrößte Kronleuchter der Welt (wo der jeweils größte ist? Keine Ahnung, aber mit großer Wahrscheinlichkeit in Dubai 😂). Wir bekommen noch ein bisschen Religionsunterricht von einem Moslem, der uns über den Islam aufklärt und uns auch gleich mal den Koran schenken will 📓 Wir lehnen dankend ab - wegen der kleinen Rucksäcke und der weiten Reise die uns noch bevorsteht 😉

    Am Abend gehen wir in ein Local Omani Restaurant essen. Bedeutet: Wir sitzen auf dem Boden in einem eigenen Essensraum und essen mit den Händen. Wir probieren „Shoowa“, ein über 24h im Bananenblatt gegartes Rindfleisch (Slow Cooked), Awaal (getrockneter Hai in Zitronen-Wasser) und Reis mit Lamm. Ach so, Hummus mit omanischem Fladenbrot sowie ein Salat darf natürlich auch nicht fehlen. Alles in allem sehr reichlich, auch wenn Sabrina mit dem Angebot nicht so zufrieden ist und sich am Hummus und Brot bedient 😅

    PS: Unsere Abendlektüre heute ist das Buch „Understanding Islam“, welches Rouven gerade fleißig studiert (Geschenk des netten Moslems aus der Grand Mosque). 📚
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  • Day499

    Quick draw - or not?

    March 9 in Oman ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    A prize for the first person who can figure out how to draw the knife from the J shaped sheath. Its worn stuffed down the front of the dishdash so I can imagine why the curve leads away from the vital parts but ...

    I found this ceremonial dagger - Khanjar - in Bait Fransa; another old refurbished traditional house, this time recording the exploits of the French in Oman. Mostly manuscripts and a few items of general interest.

    The old wedding chest served as a model for many found in the souq and the costumes are remarkably varied given that nowadays only black is to be seen.
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  • Day493

    Flagged for gawpers

    March 3 in Oman ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

    Though not so poor that they couldn't give the Sultan a nice house. Built in 1972, the Al Alam Palace (“Flag Palace”), is the most important of 6 royal residences dotted around Muscat, Salalah and Sohar. One might think it was a film set for a Hollywood cartoon epic, but I am assured it is "Oman’s most flamboyant example of contemporary Islamic design, with two long wings centred on a colourful, cube-like central building, its flat, overhanging roof supported by extravagantly flared blue and gold columns".
    The palace was built on the site of the old British Embassy. The gos is that any slave who could reach and touch the flagpole in the front yard gained their freedom.
    The living quarters are discretely spread over an acre or two adjacent to the colourful focus, and the long marble approach is bordered by marble government buildings, like the Ministry of Finance.
    The palace isn’t open to the public.
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  • Day494

    Left fort

    March 4 in Oman ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    Perched on a rocky hill the larger of the 2 Portuguese forts overlooking the Royal Palace in the centre of the bay is Al Mirani Fort, which features in many 19th C lithographs of romantic naval engagements..
    Also known as Al Gharbiya Fort, Al Mirani protects the western approaches to the palace. The story goes that the Portuguese commander fell in love with the daughter of a Hindu merchant who supplied the garrison. This man was opposed to the match on religious grounds and was consequently threatened with Portuguese diplomacy. So he spent the next year preparing for the wedding, for which he persuaded the fort Commander to restock all the fort's supplies with fresh produce. Having removed the gunpowder and food in 1649, and before he had a chance to replace them,his chum, Sultan bin Saif retook the defenseless fort. And so the wedding did not eventuate and shortly afterwards the Portuguese left.
    Its still garrisoned so not open to the public.
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  • Day494

    Right fort

    March 4 in Oman ⋅ 🌙 22 °C

    Also known as Ash Sharquiya Fort, Al Jalali stands to seaward of the palace on the East side over older, Arab foundations.. Some say that the fort’s name origin is "Al Jalal", meaning "great beauty", while others say the name is that of the Persian leader “Jalal Shah". When you decide which is more likely, reflect that the Portuguese built it in 1580.
    As you can see in the photo, the structure of this fort differs from left fort in that it has 2 main towers and a wall with canon holes. Access is limited to the protected stairway and bridge. So difficult to take and according to the Tourist Bureau a "perfect for protecting the palace."
    But, if it is difficult for people to get up into the fort it must also be difficult for soldiers to fight heir way down. And if their job is to protect the palace, they would need to come down to earth as they could not fire their canons into the palace - if they wanted to save it. So, go figure!
    The last 2 pictures are of the Police Station in Old Muscat. Government buildings all are designed as square forts.
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  • Day501

    Foot Pawn

    March 11 in Oman ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Platform shoes never really went out of fashion did they. From the 13C to the 1970's people wobbled around avoiding the ordure swirling around beneath them. So these are Qrhaf or Qubqab, Japanese stile clogs made in Oman for going to the bathroom. Why a pawn I could not determine, though clearly supposed to fit between one's toes.

    The Bait Al Zubair Museum, (and guess what ... ... it was converted from a restored 1930's trad house,) in Old Muscat is a very fine one and full of stuff. It houses the largest, private collection of Omani artifacts in the country. Founded in 1914 as a private family residence by His Excellency Mohammad Al Zubair’s father, Sheikh Al Zubair bin Ali, Bait Al Zubair was turned into a museum in 1998.

    Two sections described how men and women tied and wore their garments, One room had models of the main forts in Oman and another the artisanal techniques used, (for example the Akhdar method of making Rose-water.)

    While the main building was pretty full of visitors, I discovered another building housing a mini-theatre / cinema that was completely empty of people. There were 4 levels of artworks on show, and I was impressed by the quality of the work by well known Omani painters. Why they languished in isolation I could not explain but took full advantage of the peace. I was surprised by the works only because I expected a gallery full of paint chucked on walls and other 'iconic' masterpieces with names like "oiled pigments gliding organically down weaved cotton" (cf Museum of Modern Art in Sydney and many other cities.) Instead I could appreciate good technique in various styles even if some of the artistic vision was beyond my myopic reach (even with my specs on).

    Omani music is big on rhythm, combining Arab beats with African. Owing to its location on the Arabian Peninsula, it has been influenced by Indian, Portuguese, Yemeni, Iranian and even Tanzanian traditions. There are more than 130 traditional forms from different local regions. One of the instruments used is the tambura, also called fann at-tanbura or nuban; a six-string device that looks like it should be played with the drum at the top. Drawing its influence from Africa, the strings called 'khiyut' are beaten with a horn.
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  • Day501

    Guns and Goats

    March 11 in Oman ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    The hound is actually decorating the butt of an old, Omani matchlock musket, (called Abufathila / Fatiyalah or "Father of the Match). The teeth are real: perhaps Master wanted Fido to hunt with him forever after he past away and certainly he forgot about recoil. In Islam males are not allowed to wear jewelry but are allowed weapons, which consequently have become "jewels". Perhaps that is one reason that the male version of the kohlpot, (used to blacken the eyes, is shaped like a gun cartridge.

    The incense burner and old wooden door need to explanation and won't get one: the funny goats in front of the dhow beside the art gallery also won't get one. I have no idea except to note that there were many goats scattered around, each one differently coloured and signed by a different person.
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  • Day501

    Towering delights

    March 11 in Oman ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    The prophet Mohamed himself wrote a letter to the Omani people inviting them to follow Islam. They accepted, choosing to follow Abd Allah ibn Ibad; the Ibadi Muslim faith is one of the oldest, purest forms of Islam. About three-quarters of Omanis are Ibadi, though there are some Shia and Sunni Muslims, not counting those from Bangladesh and the sub-continent.
    Ibadism is an offshoot of the Kharijite movement that began after the death of the Prophet in 632 A.D., predating both the Sunni and Shia denominations. They believe that the Imam is the spiritual and political leader of the community and is elected by the community: therefore leadership of Islam should not be hereditary.
    Obviously one sees mosques at every turn and invariably they are elegant and minimalistic. One notable feature is the "call to prayer" which is very clean sounding: the loudspeakers are not over-driven for maximum volume as in many other countries
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  • Day492

    Arabia Felix

    March 2 in Oman ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

    Francois Le Gouz de Boullaye noted in his log "... on the 29th March [1648] we arrived within sight of Muscat, a city of Arabia Felix"; so named by the Romans who called it "Happy" because they believed it was a "blessed land shrouded in mystery & legend, whose peoples had amassed great fortunes by trading spices and aromatics."
    Frenchy Frank must have been virtually on the beach for as early as the 2nd-century Ptolemy had mentioned a ‘concealed harbour’ on the coast here but the settlement’s location, surrounded on three sides by mountains, made it all but inaccessible from the land. Indeed, the supposed original settlers, Arab tribes from Yemen, almost certainly approached from the sea.
    In the 13th C the ever helpful Iraqi geographer, Ibn Al Mujawir, disclosed that "the origin of the name is 'maskat. It is the port for trading with Sohar. The vessels coming from India, Zanziba and the North used to anchor in Maskat." Muscat -Maskat I never would have guessed.
    Muscat became the capital of Oman in 1793. All that is known about its early history is that it grew into a small port by the 14th and 15th C. From then it starting trading, especially with British Indiamen. The Portuguese took over in 1507 but lost it back to the Omanis by 1650 when they ceased to be a power in the area. The French had a go afterwards, but the Omani Sultan played thm off against the British, with whom Oman since then has had a partnership.
    By the 1970's , when an RMS Sandhurst cadet called Kaboosh bin Said bin Taimur graduated and took over the position of Sultan of Oman, Muscat was still a tiny and isolated town stretched along 800m of beach between Al Jalali and Al Mirani forts. There were 2 primary schools and a hospital linked to the 7 km asphat road. A landing strip for light aircraft and a port for small boats complete the infrastructure.
    The revered Sultan died on Jan 9th. I cannot say whether knowledge of my impending arrival was a factor; but he had just returned from a medical visit to Europe. In his time he managed to build the country into a significant player in the Gulf. The country has 200km of coast from UA Emirates to Yemen and covers 3900 sq km. He achieved this by skillfully playing off the major powers against each other and using his national income, primarily gas, to leverage some debt which allowed him to invest in modernisation and install English squre pin plugs everywhere. They are still a poor, indebted country though.
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  • Day155

    Palast Al Alam Palaceyto

    January 16 in Oman ⋅ ☀️ 64 °F

    Der Qasr al-ʿAlam (arabisch قصر العلم, qaṣr al-ʿalam ‚ Flaggen-Palast‘), auch Qasr al-ʿAlam al-ʿĀmir(„ der blühende Flaggen-Palast“), ist ein königlicherPalast in Maskat im Sultanat Oman. Der Palast wurde Anfang der 1970er Jahre im Auftrag von Sultan Qabus durch eine indische Baufirma errichtet. Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Old Muscat

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