The surviving forts of Oman offer a glimpse into turbulent times when it was necessary to barricade settlements behind well fortified walls to withstand attacks by rival forces, a common occurrence during the medieval Islamic period of the 13th and 14th centuries. Bahla Fort at the foot of Jabal Akhdar in central Oman, a stronghold of the Ban Nabhan tribe is an excellent example of such a fortified oasis settlement. Alila Jabal Akdhar is perfectly situated to provide extraordinary Oman sightseeing opportunities in the country’s most historic region.
As one of the most impressive military forts in the country Bahla Fort, a pre gun powder defensive structure was built on the highest point of an oasis. Three cannons were brought in later to strengthen its defence capability. Its adobe walls rise 165 feet from sandstone foundations. The triangular fort has six mud brick towers, some of them round, a sentry walk, castellated parapets, an outer courtyard, several gateways, a mud brick Friday Mosque that dominated the area within the fort. Among the surviving structures inside the walls are labyrinthine mud brick family compounds, a partly covered souq facing a narrow lane, audience halls and bath houses and dwellings of guards. The biggest building and the oldest part inside the fort is the Qasaba with three towers and a high wall isolating it from the rest of the fort. Excavations here uncovered the foundations of a tower and four rooms from an earlier time. A 12 km adobe wall outside the fort snakes around the oasis and palm groves making Bahla fort one of the largest defensive structures in the world. The seven wells inside were supplied with water from a falaj irrigation system that brought in water from outside springs. Some decorative features too seem to have survived the ravages of time including the sculpted prayer niches of the mosque, parts of carved timber doors, shelves and window screens and a few examples of painted and timbered ceilings. Much of these features have been restored under the guidance of UNESCO that has classified it as a World Heritage Site and cited it as an example of defensive architecture that enabled dominant tribes to prosper in the region.
Uditha Dharmawardhane is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Roland Lefevre. He specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe. Google+