One of the most visited places in Oman, the Nizwa Fort is a combination of a castle, a fort and a museum.
This great example of old Omani architecture is quite unique due to the circular shape of the tower which you can climb!
Below is my guide to help you plan your visit with tips, map and photos (+ other things to do in Nizwa).
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Why visit the Nizwa Fort in Oman? Facts & Figures
- The Fort was built at the beginning of the 17th century by the Imam Sultan bin Saif Al Yarubi. It took approximately 12 years to complete.
- The tower has a 45m diameter and reached 34 meters in height. Its foundations extend 30m underground. (which is what was displayed at the fort, but the Lonely Planet and the Oman tourism website have different dimensions...)
- The platform of the tower is accessed via a narrow staircase (60 steps). At each turn, 10cm thick wooden doors.
- Originally built in the 9th century and renewed in 1624.
- It contained rooms for the Imam, his family, his guests and the royal guards. Those rooms are decorated and used to display artefacts.
- There was also a kitchen, coffee-making room and a date store which you can see
Below is a representation of the Tower and surrounding castle:
Inside the castle, you can also find a 3D miniature version of the area:
One room also has photos of the restoration.
Both the Castle and the Fort have been restored using traditional methods and materials. It was quite interesting to see the before and after.
PLANNING TIPS & Map - Nizwa, Oman
How to get to Nizwa - Map & location
This location is included (with GPS coordinates, map of region and planning info) in my travel guide eBook that helps you easily plan your Oman road trip:
Be overwhelmed by the beauty, not the planning!
Driving to Nizwa
- Easy drive from Muscat via Motorway,
- 2WD is sufficient,
- Road 21 is the main road going through Nizwa. From there, the fort is indicated
Need to rent a car in Oman?
If you don't want to drive, you can take join a day trip from Muscat covering the Nizwa fort - Check out the Program & availability
- Nizwa Fort Opening Hours: from 8am to 6pm, except on Fridays when it closes between 11:30 and 1:30.
- Nizwa Fort Entree fee = 5 OMR
- Check latest hours and fee on the Oman tourism website
- Toilets available inside the castle
- Easy to explore most fo the castle
- 60 steps to the center of the Tower and then 40 steps to each of the 3 viewpoints - the view is worth the climb
- Great visit to combine with the Nizwa Souq
- Nizwa is a great base, a central location to visit many highlights of the area such as Jebel Akdhar, Misfat Al Abriyeen, the Bahla Fort...
At the entrance of the fort, you can also find a map with the various rooms you can visit:
- Exhibition Halls
- Date Store
- Ablution Room
Nizwa hotels & accommodations
There is a good choice of accommodations in Nizwa, thanks to its central location.
Check out the best rated
Where to stay in Oman?
- Muscat - capital city - see best rated accommodations
- Nizwa - to explore the forts and hinterlands - see best rated accommodations
- Sur - for the turtles, beaches, wadis... - see best rated accommodations
- Wahiba Sands - for the experience of sleeping in the desert - see best rated accommodations
- Salalah - the explore the Southern lands - see best rated accommodations
- Khasab - to explore the Musandam Peninsula - see best rated accommodations
The Nizwa Castle structure
I really enjoyed walking around the castle and climbing on walls. The lines and level are all different and creating interesting geometrical visuals. This is parly why it made it on my list of top 10 things to do in Oman.
Don't miss climbing on those walks (being careful) to see the ruins of old houses left around the fort.
The exhibits inside the Nizwa museum
Inside the castle are many exhibits to present the traditional way of living in Oman. The displays were nice and written in Arabic and English.
It is a simple museum, and I liked it because it does not overwhelm you with information.
Below are a few shots of things you can see in the museum:
- Traditional Masks
- Coffee making
- Date Store - untaouched during the restoration process, was still in use during the 20th century
- Living quarters
Next to the tower you can enter and see some decorated and nondecorated rooms. You can also climb stairs to a terrace level where you get another view of these geometrical superpositions.
Climbing the Nizwa Fort Tower
It’s worth climbing to the platform of the tower and then to each of the viewpoints. From there you can see the oasis and th Hajar Mountains.
Don't forget to look at the thick door and traps to stop attacks on the fort.
And if you want to know more about the fort's protection system, check out the post by Man on the Lam with a drawing of how murder holes worked.
Views from the Tower
When you reach the platform, you see 3 set of stairs at one third of the perimeter. You can also admire cannons if you are into firearms. I preferred the views.
This view is the other reason why the Nizwa Fort made it on my list of top 10 things to do in Oman.
Other things to do in Nizwa
Nizwa souq / market
Next to the Fort is the Nizwa Souq. It also deserves quite some times to explore all the alleys, especially in the older sections.
You will find vegetables, spices, potteries, textiles, baskets and much more
Outisde Nizwa, Birkat al Mawz
Not far from Muscat you can also explore the ruins of Birkat al Mawz. It is home to the traditional Falaj irragation system that has been classifies by the Unesco organization.
Other forts to visit
Oman has many other forts you can visit around the country (see my article about Omani forts).
Another one is very close to the Nizwa Fort, it is the Bahla fort.
Built in the 13th and 14th century, it has been restored and is one of the most comprehensive forts in Oman.
Other things to do around Nizwa
As you can see on the map above, Nizwa is very central.
From there, you can easily explore
- The green mountains of Jebel Akdhar - learn more
- The Oman Grand canyon of Jebels Shams - learn more
- The Sand Dunes of Wahiba Sands - learn more
- The isolated village of Misfat Al Abriyeen - learn more
Planning a trip to Oman?
Check out my travel guide eBook to help you plan:
Be overwhelmed by the beauty, not the planning!
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