Although museums do their job of displaying Omani heritage adequately, Al Jalali Fort stands as a testament to the splendor of Omani heritage like no other. Tourists and royalty alike travel to learn the lessons of the cultural heritage this fort has to offer. A prominent guest book at the entrance preserves the names of everyone who has visited this fort and their impressions of it. Al Jalali Fort remains one of the most popular and prominent examples of Omani fortifications. Perched high in the high mountains, the fort offers spectacular views of Muscat and the surrounding harbor. The Sultan’s Al Alam Palace is also visible from the top of the Al Jalali walls.
Fort Al Jalali is considered the twin of Fort Al Mirani. In a bygone era, it was the first line of defense for the city of Muscat against marauders. Combined, the two forts made Muscat an almost impenetrable place. The original part of the castle was originally built by an occupying Portuguese army in the 16th century. Although there is some debate as to what the original structure looked like, it is generally thought that it was a hastily built post to monitor Persian naval forces threatening to invade at the time. After Omani forces in 1650 regained their homeland, new additions of walls and towers allowed the Al Jalali fort to assume the appearance it does today.
The traces of the Portuguese influence in the construction of the fort are almost imperceptible today. Sultan Oaboos provided money for the fort to be restored and made into the glorious monument it is today. Surrounded by an imposing wall on all sides, the only possible entrance to Fort Al Jalali is through the port. A flight of rocky and precarious stairs leads from the side of a cliff to its doors. Once one has entered the fort, the spectacular views routinely leave visitors speechless.
Many of the cannons and other firepower that were used to defend the fort in its heyday have been preserved to enhance the fort’s bloody history. Cannon heads can still be seen poking out of the cannon windows, and various types of muskets and weapons adorn the interior walls of the fort. Another prized artifact on display is a painting depicting Muscat at the time of the Portuguese occupation. In the center of the fort is a strangely peaceful and beautiful courtyard. It is a small oasis in the middle of a building that keeps so much martial and military history.
Outside the courtyard are the entrances to several rooms. One of these rooms was rumored to be the fort’s prison in its heyday. The fort also houses a large number of towers and staircases. The main purpose of this maze-like feature was to further confuse an enemy should it breach the fort’s outer defenses. For a first time visitor or someone who has previously seen the splendor of this fortification, Fort Al Jalali in Oman offers new discoveries for everyone.