The historical town of Nizwa is just a short trip from Muscat (just 1.5hrs for local drivers the way they seem to race though the roads, or can be reached in a normal 2-hour drive). It is not anymore a "small" town but a booming city.
Nizwa is divided into two sections, the area close to Birkat Al Mouz village seems to have ballooned into an urban area within just a few years. New residential houses, rebuilt and modernized government buildings, bigger shopping malls (Grand Mall will even have a bowling alley!), hospitals, etc.
|As long as there is a KFC, I'll be fine.....lol|
The older section of the town starts from the gateway arch that welcomes all visitors to Nizwa, a newly built structure which is made to look oldish to coincide with the old architecture in this side of the town.
Due to its proximity to the fort, the souq is like a fortress. I initially thought that it is already the fort when I was looking at the facade.
The souq is divided into different sections; outside is an arena-like area for the livestock souq (where the popular Friday goat market happens from 7am - 9am) where locals barter for goats and sheeps, then there is also a fruits and vegetable souq where fresh produce are sold and at the end of this section is the dates souq where you can have your choice of dates and try a sample of the local sweet "halwa".
For the more touristy area, the pottery and antique souq is more picturesque but thronged with daytrippers from Muscat and other areas. You can get your Oman souvenirs and khanjars from any of the shops here, although the prices can really be high. Expect to haggle!
The souq is open in the morning until about 12:30pm - 1:00pm and becomes virtually empty for about 3 to 4 hours then opens up again at 5pm onwards.
When you come out from the Souq, you can walk towards the fort while passing by the Omani handicrafts house full of pottery items.
One of the most beautifully preserved fort in a country full of forts is, Nizwa Fort.
The first credible estimate for construction of the precursor to the present structure is said to be in the 9th century (as their official tour pamphlet states) but the current 400-year old building was renewed during the reign of Imam Nasir bin Murshid Al Ya'rubi in the early 17th century.
There is a 500-baiza entrance fee to the fort, collected after you get in through its wooden doors and before entry into the main fort area. The fort complex is composed of the walled residence / castle (where offices and residential areas for the Imams and their families are) and the towered citadel where you climb up and the upper section opens into the gunnery platform all set for battle against the enemies.
For those who are into history, you can visit the exhibits hall for some interesting info and display about Omani history and culture.
Better make sure to go for a visit in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is not scorching hot, otherwise you will really be toasted alive at the tower!