Travel to Oman: Nizwa
A gap in the Hajars carries highway traffic through the mountains and onto the plateau of Oman proper. One of the two chief towns here is Nizwa, which, depending on your interests, is an oasis famous for dates, a center of Islamic studies, or the possessor of a massive and elegantly restored fort and palace.
From the top of the fort, looking south over the oasis palms. The distant hills frame the jauf, or basin, which is perhaps the most prominent topographic feature of Oman proper. The palms are watered by two major falaj (plural aflaj), or irrigation systems. There are 4,000 of these systems in Oman--counting only the thirty percent that flow perennially. The most important one at Nizwa is the Falaj Daris, which runs for two miles underground before emerging at the surface to be divided among the date growers. Some 40 varieties of dates are grown here. Traditionally, farmers grew several varieties, some bearing as early as June, others as late as December. Nowadays, however, almost the only varieties being planted are the highly prized yellow khalas or red khunaizi. The fruit from a single khalas is worth over $300 a year, and farmers sell their dates all at once and park the money in the bank.
Looking north, over the town center. There are banks on both sides of the street, and they're equipped with ATMs.
The old market is pretty much a tourist trap.
Nearby, however, there's a legitimate new (1992) market. Here, the delivery bays for fruit and vegetables.
Inside the market after hours. Not what you expect? Well, that's Oman.
We've come to the central tower of the 17th century Husan al Aqor Fort, from which the panorama pictures were taken.
Adjoining it is a palace. Unlike the Lalali and Mirani forts of Muscat, which were begun by the Portuguese, Nizwa Fort was an Omani production, built by Sultan bin Said bin Malik al Ya'arubi about 1650.
The handsome color comes from sarooj, a near-forgotten Omani building material. Oasis soil is formed into bricks, which are stacked, covered in earth, baked for a week with palm logs for fuel, then crumbled into a powdery cement. Unlike portland cement, sarooj doesn't crack, and it's color--so long as the material is local--blends with its surroundings.
In the background, the Friday mosque--its dome, reconstructed in 1529, its most elegant feature.
A reminder of Nizwa's reputation for Islamic scholarship.
A staircase into the palace.
A palace portico, with palm-log joists.
An interior room, with small windows to minimize the glare.
View from a window.
The fort has its own well, labelled like any other in Oman.
* Australia's Northern Territory * Austria * Bangladesh * Belgium * Brazil (Manaus) * Burma / Myanmar * Cambodia (Angkor) * Canada (B.C.) * China * Czech Republic * Egypt * France * Germany * Greece * Hungary * India: Themes * Northern India * Peninsular India * Indonesia * Israel * Italy * Japan * Jerusalem * Jordan * Kenya * Laos * Kosovo * Malaysia * Mexico * Morocco * Mozambique * Namibia * Netherlands * Norway * Oman * Pakistan * Philippines * Poland * Portugal * Singapore * South Africa * Spain * Sri Lanka * Sudan * Syria * Tanzania * Thailand * Trinidad * Turkey * United Arab Emirates * United Kingdom * U.S.: East * U.S.: West * U.S.: Oklahoma * Uzbekistan * Vietnam * West Bank * Yemen * Zimbabwe *