Located in the heart of Old Muscat, Al Alam (Flag) Palace is the futuristic and funky ceremonial residence and the most important of the six royal residences of the reigning Sultan of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Though the palace itself is not open to visitors, you can walk around the yards and gardens in front of the palace. The Sultan doesn't use this palace much as he prefers the quieter one in Seeb, but he has received distinguished visitors here such as the Queen of England and the Queen of Netherlands. If the Omani flag on the palace's main entrance is raised, it means that the Sultan is in residence here. The palace can be approached by a long boulevard lined with perfectly manicured garden beds and official government buildings. The palace is elegant but humble, classy, and not grandiose and over the top like many other capital palaces. There is a cube-like central building with clean and shiny marble surfaces, intricate designs in bold colours and mushroom pillars in turquoise (blue) and gold, and is flanked by enormous wings.
Al Alam Palace was built on the site where there previously used to be the British Embassy. There was also a flagpole stump and legend goes that any slave who touched it was granted freedom. (Oman was infamous for its slave trade from East Africa) .Former Sultans used to live in Bait Al Alam which was demolished, and this palace was built in 1972, two years after the Sultan ousted his father in a coup. The palace is flanked by two forts built by the Portuguese on neighbouring cliff tops: Al-Mirani and Al-Jalali.
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