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Timings : Saturdays to Thursdays - 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM Fridays - 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM

Entry Fee : 500 Baisas

Bahla Fort, Nizwa Overview

Jebel Akhdar highland in Oman is home to four historic fortresses, one of which is the Bahla Fort. The Bahla Fort became the first, and only UNESCO listed Fort for Oman and it was added in 1987. After going through massive restoration processes, (from 1988-2004 and even further) the Fort reopened as a tourist attraction in 2012. Another interesting fact is that there is not much information about this place. So, if you are here, you have to explore it all on your own.

 The Bahla Fort is said to have been built by the Banu Nebhan tribe between the 12th and 15th century. The Banu Nebhan tribe was eminent for controlling the trade of frankincense at that time. A citadel oasis and an ancient wall (which spanned 13km) could also be found standing adjacent to the Fort (although most of the wall is left in ruins). Though the majority of the oasis is destroyed, yet some houses still stand. The weak structure of the Fort (built with bricks of mud and straw) was mostly responsible for its destruction through erosion. Multiple erosions and landslides forced UNESCO to put this Fort in the list of endangered ones until complete rehabilitation in 2004. There are three main sections inside the Bahla Fort, Al-Qasabah (oldest part), Bait al-Hadith (or new house built by the Ya’riba dynasty 1624-1743) and Bait Al-Jabal (which was erected in the 18th century).

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Exhibits at Bahla Fort

1. Magnificent Water Engineering Skills of Inhabitants

The Bahla Fort sets an outstanding example of the water-engineering skills of the early inhabitants of the medieval Islamic period. Despite being a fortified oasis settlement, there were no problems regarding water scarcity for agricultural and domestic issues. The oasis never turned water deficit due to the magnificent falaj system which brought in water from a network of underground wells and channels. These wells and channels which were filled by distant springs and seasonal rainfall.

2. Stupefying Warcraft

The Bahla Fort is of a pre-gunpowder style and consists of rounded towers and castellated parapets. These were combined with the solidly built perimeter walls of stone and mud-brick technology. Regarding ancient day defence mechanism, the one at Bahla Fort was undoubtedly ahead of its time. It portrays the wit and architectural skill of the medieval tribal people. It also demonstrates the influence and status of the rulers among other people.

The robust defence mechanism of dominant tribes also helped achieve peace in Oman and neighbouring Arab territories during the late medieval period. 

3. A Distinctive Settlement Pattern

The remains of the mud-brick traditional vernacular houses (harats) which included al-Aqr, al-Ghuzeili, and al-Hawulya, mosques, bathhouses, audience halls (sablas), dwellings of the Fort guards, a semi-covered market (souq). The souqs comprise of single-story shops which lead into narrow lanes and the whole settlement enclosed within an outer brick wall collectively portrays a distinctive settlement pattern of these tribal people.

Moreover, placement of the souq and other market places are found in near reach of the Fort, which showcases that the complete settlement project was thoroughly planned out.

4. A Flourishing Craft Tradition

The carvings and decorations on the timer doors of houses, shelves, and windows signify that the inhabitants had a right hand in crafts and architecture. Moreover, ancient carvings and drawings could be found on the perimeter wall as well. The Friday mosque too could be located exclusively sculpted with prayer niches (Mihrab).

History and Architecture of Bahla Fort

The fort was restored four times starting from the thirteenth century to the twenty-first century. Initially, the Nabhani tribe restored it in the 13th century, later the Yarubi tribe restored the fort in the 17th century, and the Busaidi Tribe rebuilt it in the 19th century. The fort was in a very bleak and eroding situation in the second half of the last century, and the Omani government initiated a series of restoration projects for it in the year 1988 ending in May 2012 and opened to the public.
Source
The fort was built by Banu Nabhan, the dominant tribe in the area from the twelfth to the fifteenth century. During their reign, Bahla was named as the capital and ruled central Oman from this fortified structure. The massive fort along with its baked mud walls and towering ramparts attests to the power and glory of the tribe. The fort meets its requirement for water through the falaj system of irrigation. This innovative system consisting of channels and underground water paths allowed the tribe to meet their domestic as well as agricultural requirements. The Bahla fort is an exemplary work of powerfully designed and constructed defensive forts which played a crucial role in the dominance of the Banu Nabhan tribe.

Where to Eat Near Bahla Fort

1. Wahat Al Tabiya TRAD

Hours Open- 6 AM-12 PM all days

2. Golden Saffron Coffee Shop

Hours Open- 8 AM-8 PM all days

3. Al Zuhal Restaurant

Hours Open- 7 AM-11:55 PM all days

4. Tastyway

Address- Nizwa - Ibri Road, Bahla, Oman
Hours Open- 9 AM-1 AM all days

5. Al Shallal Restaurant

Hours Open- 10 AM-12 PM all days

6. Delizioso Restaurant

Hours Open- 8 AM-1:30 AM all days

7. Al Hud Hud Turkish Restaurant and Coffee Shop

Hours Open- Open 24x7

8. Fawanees Bahla Resturant

Hours Open- 10 AM-12 AM all days

9. Attayer Pizza

Hours Open- 7 AM-12 PM and 4 PM-12 AM all days

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