Bahla Fort (قلعة بهلاء) is one of the oldest and biggest forts in Oman, and the only fort in the country to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Official statements say that the oldest parts of the fort were built as early as the year 500 BC. Bahla Fort is located in Bahla and is less than two hours away by car from Muscat.
Balha Fort was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in the year 1987. The fort was restored a number of times over history as the Nabhani Tribe restored it in the 13th century, the Yarubi Tribe restored in the 17th century, and the Busaidi Tribe restored it again in the 19th century. The fort was in a very bad situation in the second half of the last century, and the Omani government decided to start a serious restoration of project of it in the year 1988 which only finished in May 2012.
Bahla Fort was open to the public through a soft opening program around the end of the year 2012, but there are still no exhibits displayed in the fort at the moment and no proper labels or descriptions can be seen in the castle. These will be added probably when the fort is officially inaugurated. There are no details on when the official opening would take place.
Bahla fort is massive and includes many towers, mosques, and wells. The oldest part of the fort is located on the left side of the fort and is called Al Qabasah which is a five-story collection of rooms. The compound of the fort is massive and can easily take two or three hours to see if you want to examine each and every room.
Even though Bahla Fort is one of the greatest examples of historic Omani architecture, it is still not as entertaining to visit as other more popular forts such as Nizwa Fort, due to the fact that other forts have exhibits, a gallery section, and details on what each room was used for. I am sure the grand Bahla Fort will be able to compete with these other ones when it gets opened officially.
Reaching Bahla Fort is easy, if you are coming from Muscat simply follow the signs going to Nizwa and then follow the signs going to Bahla afterwards. Bahla is relatively small and the Fort can be seen from a distance.
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