To explore the cultural, historic and architectural aspect of Oman, one must visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which is the largest mosque in Oman and the only one in the country that allows entry to non-Muslims. The mosque is a beautiful example of Omani architecture and was gifted to the Sultanate of Oman by its ruler Sultan Qaboos to commemorate 30 years of his reign. Accommodating 20,000 worshippers, the mosque was built within a span of six years using 300,000 tonnes of Indian sandstone. The most exquisite and eye-catching part of the mosque is the eight-tonne Swarovski crystal chandelier hanging from the central dome which will captivate the attention of all art and architectural aficionados.
Qurum Natural Park
Qurum Natural Park is the largest park in Muscat and it is a perfect place to relax, go for a stroll or have a picnic. The beauty of the greenery around and the grace of nature can sometimes make anyone forget that they are in a small port city of Oman. The park has magnificent landscaped gardens; a big water fountain; an amphitheatre with a seating capacity of 4,500, and the most visited Sultan Qaboos’ Rose Garden, which features many different varieties of roses along the aesthetically designed winding pathways. Each year millions of visitors from around the world enjoy the sights and smells of the gardens. The park is reserved for families on Mondays throughout the year.
The scenic Muttrah corniche is located in Muttrah city, the commercial area of Oman. It stretches across three kilometres of the harbour that includes, beautiful sea-front promenade with walking area, breathtaking views of the Hajjar Mountains, the Al Lawatiya Mosque, and the Muttrah fortress. The Old Muttrah souk and Fish market are located nearby.
Bait Al Baranda museum
Bait-al-Baranda is relatively new and reflects the rich cultural heritage of the region through several artefacts and exhibits. It holds interactive exhibitions on visual art and creative ethnographic displays that sometimes involve participation from the audience. One cannot miss the ‘cut and paste’ dinosaur display, where visitors are tasked with assembling a dinosaur using bones found in the Al-Khoud region. The museum is open daily, except on Fridays, from 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 6pm.
Al Alam Royal Palace
One of the six royal residences of the ruler and the ceremonial palace (for most of the ruler’s reception of official guests) of Sultan Qaboos, Al Alam Royal Palace is located in the heart of Muscat city. It has a stunning façade of cube-like central building flanked by two long winged marble structures painted in blue and gold. The Sultan has received many distinguished guests at the palace, most notably Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Queen Elizabeth.
The Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera house is the first of its kind in the Arabian Peninsula and one of the most innovative operas in the world. Officially inaugurated in the year 2011 by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said – himself an avid music enthusiast – the Royal Opera House lies in the heart of Muscat and holds an array of symphony concerts, chamber music, plays, recitals, operas, dance musicals and ballets throughout the year.
The Al-Jalali and Al-Mirani Forts
Both Al-Jalali and Al-Mirani forts are impressive historical and cultural landmarks in Muscat that were built as look-out points by the Portuguese in the 16th century after the Portuguese conquest to strengthen their defences. The Al-Jalali Fort is located to the East of Muscat bay and Fort Al-Mirani on the West around the mountains, overlooking the harbour and the town.