Thursday, August 21, 2008

Muscat Oman - Day 3: A walk along Mutrah Corniche

This post follows on from yesterday's post about the Mutrah Souk, which is on the Mutrah Corniche. But in this post, I'll describe a walk along the Corniche and along by the winding seaside road which leads to the Sultan's Palace.

The Mutrah Corniche starts near the old Muscat Gates. Until 1970, when the current Sultan became ruler of Oman, these gates were closed at sunset. Unless you carried a lantern to light your face, you were not allowed in. However, the current Sultan modernized Oman and there is now a road which bypasses the gates. Touchingly, though, the gates are still locked at sundown. In other ways, the Sultan kept Oman traditional, such as forbidding tall buildings, and requiring that buildings are the traditional white colour.

Start from near the Muscat Gates and walk along the Corniche. When you walk along the Corniche, heading towards the Souk entrance, you see this ornate mosque on your right:

Muscat, Oman

Looking to the left, to the harbour, you'll see dhow boats like this one:

Dhow boat, Muscat, Oman

These dhows are largely unchanged since the days of the Omani Empire, covering part of East Africa. These dhows sail to East Africa, India, and Pakistan trading goods.

Follow the curve of the corniche , past the Mutrah Souk, and past some sculptures. In the photo below, you can see some people swimming from a gold-domed pagoda:

Mutrah Corniche, Muscat, Oman

Looking into the water, I saw many small fish. Given that many boats use the harbour, I'd recommend swimming down at the beaches south of Muscat instead (which will be the subject of a future blog entry).

Muscat, Oman

Now look up to the right. You'll see this old Portuguese fort. If you walk around the harbour as far as the Sultan's palace (a long walk! you might prefer to take a taxi) you'll see more forts like this.

Old fort, Muscat, Oman

Turning the corner, you can see the statue of a frankincense burner ahead:

Muscat, Oman

At this point, you might feel worn out in the Omani heat. Once you see these fountains you might be tempted to run under them! But, there is a stall selling soft drinks close by, so you don't have to resort to that.


Given the heat in Oman, you set out on this walk in the evening when it is relatively comfortable to walk around. In this case, you'll see the fort and monuments floodlit. Here is a panorama video of the Mutrah Corniche, beginning with the Portuguese fort, moving past the souk and the mosque, and then finally stopping pointing where the old Muscat Gates are:

More posts on Muscat:

No comments: