Bahla is a UNESCO World Heritage Site town, located 40 km away from Nizwa, and about 200 km from Oman’s capital Muscat which lies in the Ad Dakhiliyah region of Oman. It is notable as the home of one of the oldest fortresses in the country, the 13th century Bahla Fort and the town’s pottery.
Best Time to Visit
Winter is the best time to visit and is the peak tourist season. The average daily temperature is 30 degrees Celsius while the temperature at night falls to around 15 degrees.
Top Places to Visit in Bahla
- Bahla’s Fort
Bahla Fort, one of the largest in Oman, makes a grand sight looming over the sprawling modern settlement of Bahla. Built by the Bani Nebhan tribe who were dominant in the area from the 12th to the 15th centuries, it was granted Unesco World Heritage status in 1987. There are a few interpretative panels, but the chief attraction of this enormous fort is its scale and the panoramic view from the battlements. The surrounding mud-brick houses are a fine example of a medieval Islamic community organised around the afalaj (irrigation channels). It is better to explore the twisting lanes here on foot.
2. Jabreen Castle
Jabreen Castle is an impressive sight. Even if you have had a surfeit of fortifications, it’s worth making the effort to clamber over one more set of battlements – Jabreen is one of the best-preserved and whimsical castles of them all. Head for the flagpole for a bird’s-eye view of the latticed-window courtyard at the heart of the keep; the rooms here have distinctive painted ceilings. Built in 1675 by Imam Bil-Arab Bin Sultan, Jabreen Castle was an important centre of learning for astrology, medicine and Islamic law and, unusually for Oman’s forts and castles, there’s quite a lot to discover inside the vast battlements. There is an interesting date store, for example, to the right of the main entrance on the left-hand side.
3. Lush Valley in Jebel Akhdar
The Jebel Akhdar consists of a mountainous plateau rising to an altitude of 500 metres (1,600 ft), cut by several valleys and wadis. It lies northeast of Benghazi and south of Derna and the Mediterranean Sea. The region is one of the very few forested areas of Libya, which taken as a whole is one of the least forested countries on Earth. It is the wettest part of Libya, receiving some 600 millimetres (24 in) of precipitation annually. The high rainfall contributes to the area’s large forests, and enables rich fruit, potato, and cereal agriculture, something of a rarity in the arid country.The city of Bayda is the capital of Jabal al Akdhar District and one of the region’s largest cities.
4. Bahla Potteries
All over Oman, terracotta pots with simple ribbed motifs decorate at the entrances to smart villas and hotels. The potteries where these beloved vessels are made are humble in comparison, buried in Bahla’s backstreets. To reach them, follow the main road through the town centre towards the plantations. After 500m, you’ll come to a number of potteries. Beware, the streets are very narrow, and it’s easy to get a 4WD stuck. Better to walk if you’re not planning on a big purchase.
5. Bahla Old Souq
Opposite Bahla Fort, on the other side of Nizwa–Bahla Rd, rows of low-rise, arched buildings hide the entrance to a tiny traditional souq. A giant tree shades the central courtyard and a series of small workshops sell homemade ropes and fadhl (large metal platters used for feeding the whole family). It’s not always open, but it’s an interesting place to wander if waiting for the bus back to Nizwa.