Al Suwaiq Castle (or more commonly called “Suwaiq Fort“) is located just under 100 kilometres from Muscat International Airport (or approximately 136 kms from Old Muscat) along the coastal highway to Sohar.
This picture of the fort nestled in with various shops along a busy market street was taken from the beach which is just a stone’s throw from the fort.
This is how the fort will look as you first approach it (after exiting at the Suwaiq turnoff from the Muscat-Sohar highway).
One of the 3 rounded corner towers. Best to park off to the right side of the fort which has a small parking area and walk around the entire fort.
Al Suwaiq (or “As Suwayq” and a dozen other varieties of spelling!) comes from the Arabic word “A’Souq” meaning “market” or “centre” which is appropriate for Al Suwaiq with its many souqs and modern markets. Just near the parking for the fort, you can see older gentlemen selling produce of various types and even lifestock.
One sign of just how old this fort is is the fact that the entrance is pointed towards the sea rather than the main highway.
The info I found online suggests that entrance to this fort is 500 baiza (or half an Omani rial – about $2.50 US) per adult or 200 baisa for kids under 12 but there was no one to welcome us or collect money for entrance. One of the Bangladeshi workers asked us for some money (which we gave) but that was more of a case of begging than admission. It was nice to have this fort all to ourselves to explore. It’s one of the few forts I can remember that is actual open to tourists as most seem to be closed in my experience!
Suwaiq was a very busy port in the 18th century and this restored fort has a lot of history to it. One of the more interesting bits of information on it is that this stronghold was once defended by the wife of the Wali (Arabic word “والي” which is an administrative title meaning “magistrate“) when the fort was attacked while he was away on business in Muscat! How’s that for women’s rights! 🙂
It’s a rather large fort with plenty of open space to walk around.
This view from one of the towers gives you an idea of just how close the fort is to the sea.
Climbing up any of these ancient forts to get to the roof is obviously at your own risk. Failed to see the standard “You’ve been warned signs” common at most Omani forts.
Watch your step! It’s a long way down!
Great views of the streets below from one of the fort tops.
Passageway leading to the upper courtyard which is even more attractive than the lower courtyard.
Ancient well and another of the rounded corner towers
This is the paved upper courtyard which contains living quarters, an old prison and towers.
Features unique to Al Suwaiq Fort are the 3 rounded corner towers and a square keep making up the fourth corner. The square keeps are more common in such pre-cannon architecture.
I know a lot of expats have this “If you’ve seen one fort in Oman, you’ve seen them all” attitude, but I absolutely love visiting these fascinating monuments and visual aids to the fascinating history of the Sultanate. As Suwaiq Fort was definitely a treat to visit.
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With 75,501 inhabitants, the Wilayat of Barka is the first of the beautiful havens along the Batinah’s fertile coast. It borders on the wilayats of Seeb to the south, al Musana’ah to the north and Wadi’al Ma’awil to the south, and the Gulf of Oman to the east. It has 63 villages and 29 schools with 21,858 male and female students. The wilayat has 38 forts, towers and other ancient buildings, including the forts of Barka, al Felaij and Bait al Nu’man. Al Felaij Fort Theatre is in a pretty village and is one of the district’s tourist attractions. A few years ago it was just an abandoned fort, but today it stages performances by leading Arab and international theatre companies. Al Sawadi beach, in the Wilayat of Barka and about twenty Kilometres from Barka itself, is one of the Sultanate’s most popular and attractive beaches and its three rocky offshore islands provide a refuge for migrant birds like herons, black-headed gulls and waders which stop there in January and February every year. Visitors to al Sawadi also have a chance to observe the crabs and other marine life in its lagoon. To reach al Sawadi beach you drive for about seventy Kilometres from the Clock Tower Roundabout along the main Batinah road, then turn right and continue for eight Kilometres towards the sea. The beach is just past al Sawadi village. The three little islands, which lie just offshore in the blue waters and are usually covered with seabirds, are among the beach’s main attractions. Another reason for al Sawadi’s popularity is the fact that it is near the Governorate of Muscat and at the end of the Batinah North Governorate. Although it attracts hundreds of visitors, it never feels crowded and its soft sands, coconut palms and picnic shelters make it a perfect place for a day out or a tranquil stroll along the shore.
Wow, what an amazing place! I wish we could have gotten there while we were living in Oman. Thanks for sharing it with us!
My pleasure, Robin. Some of the nicer places that are more than an hour outside of Muscat often get neglected in Omani tourism. That’s why I want to get out and see as much of Oman as I can as there are plenty of these all over the Sultanate. Nice keeping up with you on the blog. Blessings to you and the family!
we visited this castle last tuesday with our friends from qatar on our way to dubai. we enjoyed it!
Always nice to hear that others have enjoyed the same spots! 🙂