Visitors to Misfat al Abriyeen have something new to greet them once they visit this idyllic paradise tucked away in the heart of the Al Dhakiliyah Governorate. While the Misfah Old House continues to be the main attraction, Hissen al Misfah or the Castle of Misfah is proving to be a good addition providing tourists and visitors an opportunity to view the gardens of Misfat at a higher angle.
Built on top of a rock and building upon the original structures of stone houses, the inn has several rooms with balconies allowing one to enjoy the scenery that has maintained its old world charm. Equipped with air conditioning and flat-screen TVs, the rooms also come with a fridge and other amenities all to give guests a unique Oman experience.
The true pride and joy of the castle, however, is its restaurant elevated at about 40 metres from the road. Accessible to both guests and day tourists, the restaurant reminds one of a barasti made out of wood and windows were made big so they give a 360-degree view of the Misfat landscape.
The entrance fee of OR 2.5 for day tourists give visitors access to the restaurant as well as enjoy a good Omani coffee, halwa, and other Arabic sweets.
According to the inn’s host, Abdullah, the castle was opened three months back and has since been generating positive feedbacks because of its authentic feel and outstanding view and travel experience.
“If you are not staying in the inn, you can still enjoy the restaurant and its beautiful view. We collect a fee for using the restaurant amenities as well as tasting our selection of sweets and Arabic coffee,” he shared.
Abdullah noted that many of their guests are particularly attracted to hiking and nature and many were happy that they are able to spend a night or so days to breathe in the beauty of the place.
The doorless tower
One of the imposing structures in Misfat al Abriyeen is the stone tower located about 3 kilometres from the Misfah Old House.
Going farther away from the village’s popular hiking path, it can be reached by climbing huge rocks and boulders — a true off-road hiking adventure.
“There’s no direct path that leads to the tower. You have to make your own way,” said one of the local boys when asked how to reach the tower.
“But no one is allowed in the tower after the evening prayer. It’s home to many jinns and they don’t like their peace disturbed,” he added.
Most young boys of Misfat grew up hearing stories about the tower and the jinns that call it home. They also have the same warning — keep off the tower.
Perhaps the highest point in all of Misfat al Abriyeen, the broken down tower currently has two Oman flags hanging at opposite ends. Locals shared that young men were hoisted by rope so they can climb to the top.
“There used to be stone stairs that led to the top but it seems like it has given up several years back,” Manah resident and hiker Almutasim al Mahmoodi shared. He spends most of his weekend exploring Nizwa, Al Hamra and neighbouring towns trying to discover new trails.
“Now it’s impossible to climb to the top without gears. The view would have been stunning,” he added.
While the frightening stories of jinns were a great way of keeping the local young boys away, many of the tourists and travellers headed for Misfat also ventures towards the tower.
“You can’t miss it. From a distance, it’s one of the things you’d definitely notice and it seemed like an important historical structure,” a couple from Germany shared.
Like living in history
Online and social media reviews about Misfat al Abriyeen are generally positive. In the popular travel review page TripAdvisor, it has maintained a four out five-star rating from 319 people who reviewed it making it the second most liked site in Al Hamra. It was also awarded the Certificate of Excellence — a testament to its uniqueness and value which is a great feat for a historic site.
TripAdvisor Khabouri who visited the Misfat in 2017 shared that “it’s like living in history.”
He shared that it’s a must-see place among villages located along Jabal Akhdar. “I recommend a visit to this place. A well managed old town, like living in the past,” he said.
Many visitors also commended its paradise-like ambiance, historical preservation, environmental conservation as well as the maintenance of the thousand-year-old aflaj system.
“A visit to Misfat al Abriyeen will give you an idea of what life used to be like. The cleverly engineered falaj system irrigates the land and causes an oasis of greenery with date trees, banana trees, pomegranate, wildflowers and more to which birds and butterflies are attracted,” shared a visitor from Paris.
Switzerland-based Engelberg, however, pointed out, “I would say that it’s becoming a bit touristy with new coffee houses on rooftops opening.”
“For tourists like us who came from a different country with a totally different culture, this is a pure gem and a real treat. A great discovery!” shared Dominique who was on a one-week vacation to the country.
“It’s hard not to fall in love with something is beautiful and lush,” she added.