Al Jalali Fort, Oman

Daisy Ratnasari

Although museums do their job of showcasing Omani heritage adequately, Al Jalali Fort stands as a testament to the splendor of Omani heritage like none other. Tourists and royalty alike travel to take in the lessons of cultural heritage that this fort has to offer. A prominent visitor’s book at the entrance preserves the names of all who have visited this fortress and what their impressions of it are like. Al Jalali Fort remains one of the most popular and prominent examples of Omani fortifications. Perched atop high mountains, the fort hosts spectacular views of Muscat and its surrounding harbor. The Sultan’s Al Alam Palace is also visible from atop the walls of Al Jalali.

Al Jalali Fort is considered to be the twin of the Al Mirani Fort. In an era gone by, it was the city of Muscat’s first line of defense against marauders. Combined, the two forts made Muscat an almost impenetrable location. The original part of the castle was originally constructed by an occupying Portuguese army in the 1500’s. Although there is some debate about what the original structure looked like, it is generally thought that it was a hastily constructed out post built to keep an eye on Persian naval forces who were threatening to invade at the time. After Omani forces in 1650 recaptured their homeland, new additions of walls and towers allowed Al Jalali Fort to assume the look it has today.

The traces of the Portuguese influence in building the fort are almost undetectable today. Sultan Oaboos provided monies for the fort to be refurbished and restored into the glorious monument it is today. Surrounded by an imposing wall on all sides, the only entrance possible to Al Jalali Fort is through the harbor. A flight of precarious, rocky stairs leads of the side of a cliff to its gates. After one has entered the fort, the spectacular views routinely leave visitors speechless.

Many of the cannons and other firepower that were used to defend the fort in her heyday have been preserved to enhance the bloody history of the fort. The heads of cannons can still be seen peeping through the cannon windows, and various types of muskets and guns adorn the interior walls of the fort. Another prized artifact on display is a painting that depicts Muscat at the time of the Portuguese occupation. In the center of the fort is an oddly peaceful and beautiful courtyard. It is a small oasis in the midst of a building that holds so much martial and military history.

Off of the courtyard are the entrances to several rooms. One of these rooms was rumored to be the prison of the fort in its heyday. The fort also hosts a myriad of towers and stairways. The main purpose of this maze like feature was to further confuse an enemy should they happen to breach the fort’s outer defenses. For a first time visitor or one who has previously seen the splendor of this fortification, Al Jalali Fort in Oman offers new discoveries for everyone.

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