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Bait Al Maqham: The house built for a noble lady

History is a big part of Oman as an Arabic country which is why there is a great effort devoted to preserving the magnificent historical buildings across the country which tell many stories of the past. These buildings are not only important for their unique designs but also for the value they represent including an opportunity for future generations to look back and be proud of their ancestors.

Bait Al Maqham is located amidst the plantation in the quaint suburbs of the wilayat of Bawsher close to the main city of Muscat. Surprisingly, this splendid residence surrounded by wonderful views is tucked away near the city’s last bit of sand dunes.

While it has picked up yet as a must-visit attraction, the area surrounding Bait Al Maqham is perfect for tourists with Bait al Maqham itself one of the key attractions that narrate the splendid growth of this wilayat.

Being the oldest, historically, in the area, Bait al Maqham has become an important pillar in the ways and methods of Omani architecture mixed with the military character, which gave it a functional, architectural and artistic value during the time it was built.

More than just a home, it was also built for defence making it a perfect place to also study the structure of ancient Omani fortification and how this has helped the community grow by providing security and protection.

The house was built for Sayyida Thuraya bint Muhammad bin Azzan Al Busaidi who lived in it during the eighteenth century. It is called the big house because it is one of the largest architectural buildings in the area in which the castle is built.

A series of architectural restoration processes were carried out on the castle by the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism in the Sultanate in 1991, as a rational step to preserve and protect heritage capabilities from demolition and extinction. In 2010, another restoration was made to the building after the collapse of parts of the northwest tower due to heavy rain falling on it.

Architecturally, the castle was built on an irregular space due to the slope of the building in the southeast corner, which resulted in the irregular measurement of the four sides of it. It consists of three successive floors. The first floor consists of four rooms of irregular space that open with door entrances on a central hall with a 12.50 meters longitudinal area from the entrance to the southern wall and covered from the top with a wooden ceiling based on three pointed arches carried on six rectangular trusses.

The second floor consists of the eastern and western arcades, each of which contains two rooms that open with door entrances to the exposed middle courtyard, which is 12.40 meters long from north to south, while the third floor consists of one room in the southeastern corner, and the roof is surrounded by a stone fence that is about one meter high, topped by military merlons. In the northwest corner is the only castle tower, which is 16.35 meters high, while in the middle of the northern facade is the main entrance to the castle, which is one of the hollow entrances best-known types.

Bait Al Maqham Tower is located in the northwest corner of the building. It consists of four successive floors in what appears to be three floors. The height of the tower from the floor to a point below the merlons above its top is about (16.30 meters) high, with a circular diameter ranging (10.73 meters) it was built with medium-sized stone blocks with lime and sand material, while it was covered from the outside by a layer of “Omani Sarooj” material, leaving only the ground floor without external covering.

The castle was built using small and medium-sized stone blocks in all parts of the building, the tower located in the northwest, as well as the wall surrounding the fort. The Omani sarooj material was also used in the restoration work that was carried out by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture during the restoration.

Such a wonderful building carries a great value and coveys a message that shows the Sultanate’s rich heritage and its competence in architecture and preserving the old historical buildings.

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