Muscat Travel Guide
Old Muscat © Andries Oudshoorn
Muscat is the capital and largest city in
Oman, but tourists will find that the mundane activity of the busy
modern capital is easily forgotten among the exotic delights of
bustling markets, cannon-guarded forts, ornate palaces and historic
city harbour. The once important maritime city underwent a
resurgence in the 1970s, when the Sultan Qaboos bin Said began to
develop museums, mosques and palaces, and worked to restore relics
of Muscat's history.
Muscat is made up of three cities grown
together: the original walled city of Muscat (home to the royal
palaces); the former fishing village of Matrah with its maze-like
souq; and the commercial and diplomatic area of Ruwi. These areas,
along with other districts further from the city centre, each have
their own distinct personalities and attractions.
Although Muscat is a popular destination
for sightseeing tours, many of the attractions are primarily
regular fixtures of Omani life. The mosques are important religious
sites, the ancient forts are still operated by the military and the
sultan's palace is the seat of Oman's government.
The beauty of the city is what makes Muscat
so alluring, especially near the harbour. The smooth, curved stone
architecture is a transition from the rocky landscape to the
inviting water of the harbour. Many new buildings have continued
with classic Arabic architecture, further protecting the city's
legacy from the ravages of the modern world. Muscat is one of the
safest, most cosmopolitan and most open-minded cities in the entire
Gulf Region and fast becoming a Middle East tourism hotspot.