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Notes on the Geography of Oman: Jibrin

Oman's grandest fort--Bahla--has been closed for years while bureaucratic wars are fought over its proper restoration.  Nearby Jibrin Fort is a good alternative, however, a fortress converted into a fortress-palace about 1680 by Bilarab bin Sultan, son of Nizwa Fort's builder. Greatly enlarged 40 years later by Muhammad bin Nasir, Jibrin was superbly restored in the early 1980s from a state of near-ruin. The work was done by Oman's Ministry of National Heritage and Culture under the direction of Enrico D'Errico.

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Oman: Jibrin picture 1

The design is externally simple but internally much more complex: the massive walls--more than six feet thick to withstand cannon--enclose two rectangular blocks separated by a courtyard and connected to each other by only a narrow passage.  Not quite a maze, the floor plan is still very hard to figure out.

Oman: Jibrin picture 2

One block has latticework shading clerestory windows.

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Topside view over the oasis and plain.

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Courtyard wall, seen from the roof.

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The same balcony, seen from the ground.

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Finely scalloped ogee arch over an entrance from the courtyard.

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Internal door.

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The mihrab of the mosque.  No clocks, no microphones, no fluorescent tubes, no framed pictures.  Listen to the silence.

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Upstairs living quarters.  The height and clerestories help keep the place relatively cool.

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The thick walls help, too.  Here, the sun and moon room.

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A clerestory window in that room.

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Wall above a fireplace.

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Ceiling support.

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Carved roof beam.

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Downstairs, water once arrived through Falaj Jibrin, which runs through the length of the fort.

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Another view, showing a branch channel.

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Doorless cupboards.

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Date stores.

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Cooking utensils.

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Mortars and pestles.

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Spandrel over the tomb of the fort's builder, Bala'rab bin Sultan (d. 1692).

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Barrel vault over the tomb

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