Ancient History, Modern Times

It’s a land where East meets West, where age-old traditions are still practised and thousands of years of history can be witnessed in a fascinating and rich culture.

This is Oman.

There are very few destinations steeped in a mythical and magical history, yet somehow appear to be quite at home in the twenty-first century. No doubt your first stop on a tour of Oman will be the bustling capital of Muscat, where you can see how Omanis have been trading for generations in the Muttrah Souk. The fragrance of frankincense perfumes the air and stallholders sell brilliantly coloured scarves, local coffee and spices, and jewel-hued homewares. Yet, not far away, you’ll find five-star hotels overlooking the beach, a modern marina, where high-end yachts are moored beside traditional dhows, contemporary shopping districts like Qurm, and two most impressive modern buildings, the spectacular Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, opened in 2001, and the Royal Opera House Muscat.

Muttrah Souk
Muttrah Souk

Further afield, you’ll discover fortresses merging with the majestic desert landscape, explore ancient villages in the mountains and marvel at UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the ruins of the necropolis of Bat, which dates back to 3000BC.

A popular excursion for history buffs is the fort route. Oman has more than 500 forts that reflect the country’s cultural legacies. Some date from the time when this land was part of Persia, others were built during Portuguese colonisation in the sixteenth and seventeeth centuries. Not all of them have been restored but there are about 20 that can be visited. Bahla Fort, which is 20 kilometres from Nizwa (southwest of Muscat), is World Heritage listed and one of the country’s most-visited historical sites. Closer to the capital, Jalali and Mirani forts overlook Old Muscat.

If the thought of discovering a land where the ancient and modern sit side by side entices you, visit the Travel Ideas section of our website and plan your once-in-a-lifetime journey to this fascinating country.