Category Archives: Forts

The Climb up to Al Sawadi Tower

sawadi 1  Sawadi Beach is a gorgeous place to visit in Barka – about a hour and a half from Muscat along the coast as you drive towards Sohar.  We’ve enjoyed several trips to this beautiful spot and I wrote a post about the watch tower and public beach there almost exactly 3 years ago. Time to post a more recent trip – one in which I decided to climb all the way up to the tower.  It was a moderate hike and the views at the top were well worth the effort!sawadi sign

sawadi 2

sawadi 4

sawadi 5

a lot of stairs

sawadi sunset

sunset and dhow

tower through trees

approaching tower

black and white of fort

side view of fort

sister in law at fort

climbing up to main tower

inside stairway

pattern in stairway

what a view

look up

the splendour of sawadi sunset

last pic as sun fades in horizon

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Barka Fort, Southern Batinah Region

Barka Fort

Barka Fort is located about 80 kms from Muscat in the Walayat (like district) of Barka in the region (like state or province) of Al Batinah.fort and cannon

Cannon looks pretty impressive from the front till you see it from the side…graffiti on cannon

I wonder what the local punks have written on this cannon. What a shame!fort front door

Like 99% of all forts I visit in Oman, this one was closed as well!  Are they really taking tourism seriously when so many of these places of interest are constantly closed?!zoom in looking up

black and white of tower

fort flag and old gentleman

flag in the wind

look wayyyy up

wider shot of fort

surroundings

from side tower

fort is right along the ocean

birds on beach looking north

It’s nice that the fort is right along the beach, but I wouldn’t recommend swimming here (especially the ladies) as it’s a conservative small town.  Another reason I wouldn’t recommend it is that there were several local young men that kept paying my sister-in-law far too much attention as we walked around the fort and one guy was even parked there for the longest time is his heavily tinted windows just gawking. Creepy!beach looking south

bird over beach

Barka Map

As you can see from the map here, other places of interest in Barka include: Al Sawadi Coast, Bait Al Naaman Castle, and Al Falaij Fort.  Barka Fort isn’t the most exciting place in the Sultanate so I wouldn’t recommend coming here unless you plan (going to/coming from) another destination.

Seems that some Barka local residents and citizens are directly or directly involved in human trafficking- Read this article from Gulf News!

Creepy Castle Critters – BATS in Oman!

If you’re an avid explorer of forts, castles and watchtowers in Oman, you’re bound to see (or at least hear) some bats eventually.  During my recent trip to Al Suwaiq Fort/Castle, I heard what seemed to be chirping or tweeting sounds from between the castle walls.  I was sure that it must be a bunch of birds…

Would this sight freak you out if you were visiting a fort in Oman?

You can be sure that there are plenty of bats around when you see such a mess! (and no, those aren’t hershey’s kisses, boys and girls! 🙂 )

This is what I saw as I looked up in one of the spaces immediately in front of the corner towers just before several bats pooped on my head. (Good thing I was wearing my sunglasses! 😉 )

If you’re curious to see bats in Oman, it might be time to explore some of the countless forts and castles. Just look out for falling poop!

Al Suwaiq Fort in the Al Batinah Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   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.

Ruins in Jamma, Oman

Jammah is located between Mussannah and Rustaq, about an hour and a half from Muscat.  The turnoff point coming from Mussanah is at the same roundabout where one turns for Al Hamn Castle, but instead of turning right (for Al Hazm Castle), you turn left to reach Jamma.  It is 6 kms from Mansur Castle (which I never managed to find!).  If you look at the map here, Jamma is indicated with a red circle.