Nizwa Fort was restored along with the souk (market) at its base and opened in January of 2007. It is a beautiful site, and the souk appeared to be very active with business when we visited. The way it was set up looked exactly like I imagined a middle eastern market to look in the old days. It was very picturesque. Of course I spent most of my time in the silver shops, sorting through beads and jewelry, but if we had time, we could have spent another hour wandering around.
Nizwa Fort was completed in 1668 AD by Imam Sultan bin Saif al Yaarubi. Sounds like a long name, but "bin" (like "ibn") means "son of", and in ancient Arab times, this naming convention was very common. In a tribally based society of the time, it helped identify one with their family for both political and social reasons. This convention is, of course, still used today in some names as well as other cultures. (There are a lot of people named "Johnson", too.) An Imam is a spiritual leader and a Sultan is a ruler. I have no idea what his mother called him while growing up.
OK, back to our story. The fort itself is decorated with items like pottery, rugs, pillows, and ornate trunks to beter exemplify how the fort was used. Pots hung by string, showing how in such a hot climate, the water could still be kept cool. (I still need to try this at home to believe it.) Guest rooms appeared as they might have when the Imam Sultan was in residence. It is how I wished my hotel room had looked, except of course I prefered the bed at my hotel to the 1600's sleeping arangements. Same goes for the plumbing. Floors and rooms are connected by a labyrinth of hallways and stairs, making both the architectuer and the exploration intersting.
Despite this site being one of the most visited sites in Oman, we did not see many people during our visit. I think our timing around lunch, while the souk was closed, was a good time to visit without crowds. We really liked visiting this fort, but wished we had a little more time in the souk after our visit. Then again, we did have to get moving in order to get to our next stop at Jabrin Castle.