South American Mariana has been in the country for two years now and despite having travelled to different parts of the country, she admitted she hasn’t fully explored Muttrah and the surrounding area yet. “I’d been passing through the area many times especially when I’m headed to Yiti or the beautiful beaches of Al Khayran but it didn’t occur to me to explore Muttrah,” she shared.
She once planned to climb to Muttrah Fort but got disappointed when informed that it was still closed to the public a few months back.
Hearing that it’s finally opened to guests, she was happy that she’d finally be able to visit something historical within Muscat.
“I heard a lot of things about Muttrah Fort and how it offers this wonderful sweeping view of the whole area. I can’t wait to check out and understand its historical significance and see for myself the fortification and its architectural genius,” she shared.
Built in the 16th century by the Portuguese, the fort was primarily used for military purposes. Its strategic location provided an advantage to deter any attacking elements.
The recent opening of Muttrah Fort to tourists and visitors is part of the Ministry of Tourism’s efforts to use the historical and archaeological elements of the country for strengthening tourism.
In a press release sent to the media, they specified that the ministry is trying to promote historical sites to become major tourist attractions banking on its cultural significance to draw tourist.
Abdullah bin Salem Al Thahli, Assistant Director-General for the Development of Tourism Sites and Products said, “That the development of the Fort of Muttrah is the first stage of the development. The idea of using Mutrah Fort for tourism is part of the vision of the Ministry of Tourism to for the development of forts of the country as tourist destinations.”
He added, “The fort has strong defense elements and unique architectural design. This is why the ministry wanted to highlight these elements and develop it as a tourist destination in the first phase and the second phase [will be focused] in the development of adjoining areas.”
For those wondering what can be found at the fort, Al Thahli shared that the fort had a variety of old canons.
“The history of each canon differs from the other. One will find the history of the manufacturing of each cannon and details of which countries they were manufactured is also included. There are Omani, Portuguese, British, French, American, Indian and Persian cannons at the fort. Some of them are for ground battle, some of them for naval ships, and some for permanent buildings such as forts. There are brief notes of their history, use and military significance.
Al Thahli explained that the Ministry of Tourism “made huge efforts to develop this landmark as a major tourist attraction was due to its belief in its importance. It wanted to put it on the tourist map. The ministry worked with a scientific vision and rules and methods of archaeological development without blurring the original characteristics and features of the fort.”
He also added that the ministry’s development plan “ensured comprehensive maintenance of the fort to preserve it as an archaeological site with its originality While working on this project, a comprehensive scientific analysis of the building materials was done to ensure its protection from erosion and corrosion. It was also important for the repair to the damage caused by pests, insects and fungus in its roofs and windows.”
Development of the
According to Al Thahli, the area around the fort has been developed on the principles of urban design. It means that they put into consideration putting facilities for tourists so they can witness cultural and artistic activities and encourage investment opportunities as well.
“The forts are unique architectural art which shows the richness of the Omani heritage and highlights craftsmanship,” he said.
Sultan Bin Jameel Al Mukhmari, Acting Director of the Department of Historic Sites Development, in a press release shared that not only did they put an effort into substantially protecting the site, they also made sure to include ample parking and a place for reception.
“The ministry is trying to purchase the properties located below the fort from their owners so that the fort would have its own parking for visitors with a capacity of 28 cars,” he said.
They also developed toilets and accommodation for the security personnel and has even improved on the current water system which used to obstruct traffic routes.
For British engineer Steve who was one of the first people to see the Muttrah Fort in its renovated state, he felt lucky to have the opportunity after reading the news opening online.
He shared he was impressed with the engraved walls, huge cannons, mammoth doors and pebbles that decorate the fort.
“We’d been receiving people in large numbers immediately after it was announced that the Fort has been opened to the public,” shared Rashid Al Hamdani, the caretaker of the Fort.
People yearn to grab a piece of history along with a splendorous sea view; bask in the cool breeze that is sure to transport the visitor to the Portuguese era that was just heard of, with memories of ships that once sailed these cerulean waves along with the vivid images of a bygone era.
The fort is open to visitors throughout the week with the following schedule: Saturday to Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm and every Friday from 9 am to 11 am and from 2 pm until 4 pm.