Driving in the direction of Sohar, 50 kms from the Muscat International Airport, there is a tourist sign pointing right to “Bait Na’aman“. (Most tourist signs are easy to spot in Oman as they are usually painted brown.) On a recent trip, I decided to see this ancient house (“bait” is Arabic for “house“)/castle/fort with my own eyes. Another 2.9 kms and I reached the ancient wall you see above with the castle just a little further down the road.
“A very beautiful small castle/country house restored and furnished. Operated by Ministry of Heritage and Culture. Opening times: Saturday to Wednesday, 0900-1330 hours. Telephone: 24641300 (ext 142)” (from Oman Tribune’s useful info page)
Another closed fort/castle during my travels! It didn’t stop me from enjoying the beauty of this castle from outside the walls though.
This castle “was built by Imam Bil’arab bin Sultan and his brother Imam Saif bin Sultan in the last decade of the 17th century. Later used as a rest house by Imam Ahmed bin Said, whose sons lived there for some years, it continued to provide a meeting and resting place for travellers and armed forces until just a few decades ago.“
“Bait Noa’aman stands in a small courtyard with large shady trees. Imam Saif bin Sultan was well known for his planning and building skills and is reputed to have planted 30,000 date palms and 6,000 coconut trees in Oman. There is a well that used to provide water for the residents and their crops.”
“As was common for forts and houses of the Imam, this house has its own falaj that used to run through it from Habra just outside Nakhl. The falaj is now dry, though one can still trace its route.” (from the Ministry of Tourism’s “Concise Guide to Batinah“)
This backdoor to this castle (escape route?) is unlike any I’ve seen at the numerous forts I’ve visited so far. It seems almost too narrow to be a door and yet too low to be a window. I wonder about its original purpose.
Bait Na’aman is a charming site. I think a tourist who drives all the way out from Muscat just to see it might be slightly disappointed in its “simplicity” and they might find it “not quite worth the trip” but if you see this fine castle on the way to or returning from another spot, then it’s well worth the 2.9 km drive off the main highway!