History, culture and traditional customs are elements that have shaped the Sultanate of Oman through the ages. Oman today is one of the most important historical tourist destinations of the Middle East. The castles and the various archaeological sites attract the attention of travelers and enthusiasts to its unique and raw beauty.
Barka castle or as the residents of Barka call it “The jewel of the state” is the symbol of civilization and culture in Oman. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions located in the Barka in the southern Batinah province or the suq area. It is located between the fish market and the vegetable market and has great view to the sea and the old houses.
According to the book ‘Division of the Omani Empire’, Barka Castle was built in the middle of the 17th century and built in two phases. The first phase was built during the reign of Saif bin Sultan al-Yaraibi and was completed during the reign of Hamad bin Saeed al-Busaidi. The castle has since been restored by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture. The castle in the past was used for the defense and housing for the governor. As time passed the building continued to stand tall, and now is a popular tourist site that is under the protection and supervision of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture.
“Barka Castle is distinguished from the rest of Oman’s castles with its various types of towers. It is divided into the outskirts of the castle. These towers were used in the past for observation” as Aqil Al-Riyami the supervisor of the Castle said.
There is a small mosque inside the castle walls and a court of justice used by the Imam for making and announcing important decisions. There is also a private suite in front of the castle for the Imam and his family. The suites consisted of three rooms – a reception room and a well that served the needs family and their servants. In the western side of the castle, the oldest part of the fort still exists and is called the fortress of defense – used as storage for weapons, ammunition, secret stores and detention rooms.
Al-Riyami said: “Many tourists are visiting the castle daily from 8 am to 12 pm, I am happy that tourists are watching the history of Oman”. Magen Dixon A tourist from Britain said: “Every Omani should be proud of this castle, when I return to my homeland I will tell everyone about this great fortress”.
This archaeological treasure remains an important site in the state of Barka, expressing the Omani people’s history of greatness, strength and a proof of their achievements.
Saud al Farsi