Story by Arwa Al Hashmi
Photos by Maal Al Wahaibi
Forts and castles have always occupied a special place in Oman’s rich history. They have been used for military purposes in hundreds of years to protect the country from the enemies’ raids. Those skillfully designed buildings are now the destination of thousands of tourists who are interested to see the beauty and strength of Oman.
Bait Al Marah castle (Husn Bait ak Marah) is one of the famous historical buildings in Oman and it’s the third-largest in the country. It is located in the wilayat of Yanqul in Al Dahirah Governorate where it is surrounded by the local’s farms and houses as well as the wilayat old market.
It was built more than 400 years ago. When the Nabhani tribe reigned the area, they built three more houses inside the castle, namely: Biat al Basra, Bait al Sharqi and Bait al Aod. Each house is built at a corner, and the four of these houses constituted a castle.
Adjacent to it is Sabilat Al Zama that has a very memorable place in the hearts of Yanqul’s people since ancient times.
The sabla is meant for some traditions and rituals that people perform daily such as; Al barza which is a kind of tradition that had been practised before the blessed renaissance where people used to discuss and manage the matters of the wilayat and to discuss the issues of people. People meet in the sabla in the early morning.
Inside the castle, two Aflaj pass through; Falaj al Muhadith and Falaj al Ayn. The Nabhani tribe wanted the castle to contain water for defence purposes as to keep running in wars.
Bait Al Marah castle is special for its light brown to red colour and its rectangular shape that is surrounded by 8-meter-tall fences from all sides. It consists of six round external towers at the corners and one rectangular tower in the middle of the southwest wall at the southwestern corner.
This tower is designed specially to allow the defenders to throw the attackers at the entrance. The castle has only one gate that opens towards and is called the Sabah Gate. It is made of heavy wood and has a very wonderful image that consists of circular rings as well as iron stars.
In addition, Bait Al Marah has several utilities. a mosque that has a small yard and a place for prayers along with a room for reading the holly Quraan called Al Barada. There is also a small corridor that leads to Falaj Al Ain from which people wash before praying.
Al Bait al Aod is a house that is located right next to the mosque. It houses the sheikh and his entourage and it consists of several ground rooms with a three-floor tall building in the middle of them called Al Munaizirah.
At the south side of the castle, there is Al Bait Al Sharqi and it is a big two-floor house that has many rooms. It is built for one of the sheikh’s family members to live in it.
Bait Al Marah is also one of the houses of the castle and it has its name because of its significant importance and distinctive design. It is located on the east side of the castle. It has a big charming gate that is similar to the Sabah Gate with the same defending characteristics.
At the east side of the castle, there is also Bait Al Basra which is a beautiful house that represents the uniqueness of the Omani architecture and the life in Oman at that period.