An excursion to the most characteristic and traditional corners of Muscat, from souks to museums, to discover the true heart of the city.
WHAT WE WILL SEE
- The Grand Mosque
- Packed lunch on the beach
- The Muttrah suk
- Al-Alam Palace
- Exterior of the fort of Al-Jalali
WHAT WE WILL DO
- We leave the port of Mina Qaboos and head towards the Grand Mosque.
- We continue our journey to Seeb where we stop to see the vegetable and fruit market
- Packed lunch will be served anywhere near the beach
- We then head to the coast to visit the Muttrah souk, the old market, a fascinating blend of history and modernity under a magnificent 18th century merchant’s inn. Here we have the opportunity to go shopping.
- We leave the National Museum of Muscat in front and head towards the Al-Alam palace that we see from the outside. From here we can also admire the Al-Mirani Fort, completed in 1587, and the Fort of Al-Jalali. The latter, which has been completely restored and also houses a museum of Oman’s cultural heritage, is reserved for heads of state and members of royal families and is not open to the public.
What we need to know
- The itinerary may be subject to change.
- We recommend wearing comfortable shoes.
- An appropriate dress code is recommended for places of worship to visit.
- To enter the mosque, it is mandatory for men and women to cover the shoulders and legs (up to the knees) and remove the shoes.
- Dollars and euros are accepted in the souk.
- Friday and national holidays the Grand Mosque will be closed and the visit will be external.
THE COST INCLUDES
Full day trip as per itinerary above.
Bottles of mineral water per person.
Wifi during excursion
Map of the city route from Muscat Port at 9.00am
Great Quality imposing from the outside, this glorious piece of modern Islamic architecture was a gift to the nation of Sultan Qaboos to celebrate its thirtieth year of reign. The main prayer hall is breathtakingly beautiful. The Persian carpet alone measures 70 meters by 60 meters wide, making it the second largest Iranian hand-shaped rug in the world; it took 600 women for four years to weave.
The mosque, which can hold 20,000 faithful, including 750 women in a private room (prayer hall), is an active place of worship, particularly for Friday prayers. Visitors are required to dress modestly, covering arms and legs and avoiding tight clothing. Women and girls (ages seven and up) must cover their hair. An abaya (full length dress) and a scarf can be rented from the mosque’s cafeteria
Fruit and vegetable market in Seeb
Picnic lunch on the beach of Muscat near seeb
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) is Oman’s headquarters for arts and musical culture. The opera house is located in the Shati Al-Qurm district of Muscat on Sultan Qaboos Street. Built on the royal orders of Sultan Qaboos of Oman, the Royal Opera House reflects the exclusive contemporary architecture of Oman and has a capacity to accommodate up to 1,100 people. The complex of the work consists of a concert theater, an auditorium, formal landscape gardens, a cultural market with retail stores, luxury restaurants and an art center for musical, theatrical and opera productions.
The ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said has always been a fan of classical music and the arts. In 2001, the sultan ordered the construction of an opera house.Initially called “House of Musical Arts”, the name “Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM)”was finally chosen. This opera house, built by Carillion Alawi,became the first in the world equipped with interactive multimedia technologyof Radio Marconi display seatback system, was officially inaugurated on 12 October 2011,with a production of the opera Turandot, directed by the Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo
Many people come to Mutrah Corniche just to visit the souq, which preserves the chaotic interest of a traditional Arab market even if it is housed under modern wooden roofs. The shops that sell Indian and Indian artifacts and some antique dealers are crowded among the most traditional fabric, hardware and jewelery stores. Bargaining is provided even if the discounts tend to be small. The cards are generally accepted in most shops, but they bring money in exchange for better offers in euros and dollars. The main entrance is through the Corniche, opposite the pedestrian traffic light.
The main attraction of Muttrah is the famous Souk Muttrah, probably the most popular tourist attraction in the country. This is Muscat in its most magical form: a deafening labyrinth of narrow and fragrant alleys full of colorful little shops stacked with incense and bukhoor trays, old silver khanjars, Bedu jewels and other exotic paraphernalia – one of the few markets in the world where you can buy gold, frankincense and myrrh under one roof. You could spend many pleasant hours here, bargaining for crafts and trying to make sense of the maze, especially if you venture far from the heavily toured main road to the perched streets.
The souk can be somewhat misleading at first sight: it is much larger and much more confusing than one might initially suspect. Heading from the main entrance onto the corniche, it is possible to cross the souk in less than five minutes, following the main artery that bisects the area from north to south. This stretch – more lively after dark – is where you’ll find the most touristic (and expensive) shops in the souk, flanked by well-restored old buildings under a wooden roof and crowded with an eclectic mix of Omanis clothes and coaches left.
In reality, this is only a small part of the overall complex, which continues for a considerable distance on both sides, especially to the west. Turn right from the main street and, if you know where you are going, you can go back to the Muttrah Gold Souk, the building that faces the corniche a couple of hundred meters west of the main entrance of the souk, passing through a charming series of alleys full of gold and silver jewels along the way. Other alleys branch out in every direction, flanked by more and more rough shops and in the end they shoot you from the souk or return to the corniche or in the tangle of secondary streets and alleys that wind in the area behind Sur al Lewatia
Al Alam Palace is the ceremonial palace of His Majesty the Sultan. The palace is located in the heart of Old Muscat, surrounded by the forts of Al Jalali and Al Mirani and will soon be facing the National Museum of Oman. The former Sultan lived in a house called Bait Al Alam which was demolished in the early 1970s to build this new palace in its place to be the official residence of the Sultan of Oman.
Sultan Qaboos rarely remains in Al Alam Palace since he seems to prefer his other residences in Al Seeb or Manah. However, this palace is the one most used to receive high-ranking official guests and has in the past hosted characters such as the Queen of England and the Queen of the Netherlands. The palace is not open to the public, but tourists can walk around the courtyard and the guards in front of the building at any time.
The Palace is surrounded by a number of other interesting government buildings such as the Ministry of Finance which has a beautiful gate that should not be missed by visitors to the building. You can see the gate of the Ministry of Finance walking along the right side arches of the building and crossing one of the two exists there.
Al Alam Palace is surrounded by fortresses of Al Jalali and Mirani, which unfortunately are not open to the public. Both fortresses were built in the 16th century around the time of the Portuguese invasion of Muscat. You can take a close look at both forts and get a breathtaking view of the back of the building by driving through the Al Alam street near the French museum of Oman where you can almost literally park your car behind the building.
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