Friday, August 22, 2008

Muscat Oman - Day 4: The Sultan's Palace

The Sultan's Palace in is located in Old Muscat, which you reach if you follow the Corniche at Mutrah south, and continue south to a semicircular natural harbour.

In this harbour, you can see old graffiti left by British sailors over 100 years ago. Guarding the harbour, you can see two forts: Al Jalali on the left and Al Mirani on the right. This panoramic video shows the harbour, the front of the Sultan's palace, and the two forts.

The fort on the left, Al Jalai, is floodlit at night:

Fort near the Sultan's Palace, Muscat

The Al Mirani fort is also flootlit, and is beside an intricately designed mosque:

Sultan's Palace, Muscat

Here is the front of the Sultan's Palace itself. Really, the palace is not one building but a complex of buildings, and they are mostly used for ceremonial and hospitality purposes, rather than as an actual residence.

Sultan's Palace, Muscat

From the harbour you can walk around to the other part of the palace, the part which faces the mountains not the sea. At this side, there is a courtyard, and you can see that the back of the main building has a similar facade to the front.

Sultan's Palace, Muscat

Here is a panoramic video taken in the courtyard, showing the surrounding buildings and the mountain backdrop:

Within the palace complex, this mosque has a tower reminiscent of an Anglican church steeple (the Sultan was educated in England, so maybe that is the connection, since that tower would not look too out of place in an English town).

In the grounds of the Sultan's Palace, Muscat

Dotted in the mountains you can see the old forts:

Sultan's Palace, Muscat

I wonder what is behind this door...

Sultan's Palace, Muscat

As you can probably tell from the photographs, the Sultan's Palace is very quiet and peaceful. It is not like walking around Buckingham Palace or the White House. You feel like you might be the only person there (and, indeed you might, since the Sultan does not actually live there, and spends a lot of time traveling around Oman such as on his "meet the people" trips).

If you plan to get a taxi back to your hotel (or to a restaurant, or to the Mutrah Souk) then be aware that there are no busy roads near the palace, so you have to walk up past the Al Mirani fort to a road to flag down a taxi. And, bring water because there are no shops in the area to buy refreshments. This caught me out when I visited, and I ended up walking, thirsty, in the heat looking for a taxi for a good 15 minutes.

Close to the Sultan's Palace, and worth a quick look, is the Omani-French Museum containing models of ships, traditional weapons (the ubiquitous Omani dagger), and clothes.

More posts on Muscat:

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