“T he old capital before Muscat was Nizwa. But instead of being on the coast it is up in the mountains. I imagine the experience to be a lot like Old Muscat except older and a mountain version instead of a costal version. Plus it’s on the way to other sites in the mountains.”
Drew Macomber of Travel Is Free would be essentially incorrect with that supposition pertaining to the experience in Nizwa being similar to Old Muscat — both located in the Sultanate of Oman — about which he wrote in this article. Arguably incredibly wrong, I might emphasize.
Please do not ask “who is Drew?” You are reading The Gate, not TravelBloggerBuzz — but I digress.
I have been to both Nizwa and Old Muscat; and I intend to report on both with plenty of photographs. In this article, I will start off with when I arrived in Nizwa in the late afternoon.
After driving almost 180 kilometers southwest on highway 15 from Muscat — approximately one hour and 45 minutes or so on a limited access highway with little traffic — I arrived in Nizwa where many of those streets were under construction. Despite the detours — including down this street which was only one lane wide and winding between buildings but had traffic going in both directions — I had no problem arriving in the central part of town, which was crammed with masses of people crowding the streets. Navigating through all of those people was the biggest challenge for me; but — believe it or not — I did find a parking space after a few minutes with little problem.
The crowds were there for shopping, dining and attending the mosque — all of which were concentrated within central Nizwa. I suppose it serves me right for arriving on a Friday night to a sea of people swarming all over the place; but once I parked the car, it was a good experience.
I did not visit the mosque…
…but it looked quite resplendent at night.
I entered the souq — or market — through one of its many entrances into the fort-like structure…
The souq was divided into several different areas…
…such as for crafts, meat, produce and seafood.
For some reason, something told me that although I intended to visit the main souq area by the corniche area of Muscat, I decided to purchase a small souvenir at the souq while in Nizwa — and customers can sample a date from a small bowl near the cash register, which I did.
The date was good; but I am still not crazy about dates. Three women from Germany were also purchasing items. The merchant asked from where we came; and was delighted at the answers.
The best part is that I did not feel pressured. No one bothered or annoyed me while I was looking over the wares which they offered. I could take my time or walk away — whatever I wanted to do — without getting badgered or irritated. The short experience felt civilized.
Despite it most likely being closed, I decided to walk on over to Fort Nizwa…
…and passed one of the main entrances on the way — which was closed to motor vehicle traffic but open to pedestrian traffic at the time that I passed it — with the flag of Oman proudly waving in the light breeze overhead in the night sky.
I reached the fort; and sure enough, I arrived too late, as it was closed to visitors.
That was no problem — I will simply visit it in the morning.
Dated not later than the year 1580 is a cannon which bears the royal arms of Portugal, which is mounted on a bed carriage according to the original drawings preserved in Spain.
It was time for me to retire for the night; but I will return the next morning — and I intend to post a trip report with photographs in a future article. Deciding which of the plethora of photographs to use will be a challenge…