Standing tall

February 25, 2019

The Al Fiqayn Castle in Manah,  Governorate of Dakhliyah, with its tall watchtowers standing in the middle of the village of Al Fiqayn, is considered one of the most important historical monuments in the wilayat. It showcases unique defensive fortifications in traditional Omani architecture.

The imposing castle is surrounded by old houses and an oasis of date palms. The castle’s architectural formations and details stood tall even after more than 400 years and were restored by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture for an official opening in 1994, which was observed as the Heritage Year.

23022019_082114_2

According to Khalfan bin Salim al Busaidi, a researcher in Omani history, inscriptions found in the castle reveal that it was constructed in 1027 AH (1617 AD). It was built by a group of skilled and experienced engineers from the wilayat of Manah.  Manuscripts dating back to 1333 AH, including a manuscript of Imam Salim bin Rashid al Kharousi, indicate that some imams in that period of time had a role in protecting the castle.

Busaidi noted that the castle is known for its defensive fortifications, strength of construction and its ancient architecture. “Its door remains hidden and can only be accessed by climbing a rope hanging from a hole on the second floor, ” he said. “Visitors had no access to the castle until a gate was build to the castle on the south side during restoration works.”

23022019_082115_6

The ingenuity of Omani architecture lies in the design of the four-storey castle.  It is divided into northern and southern parts.  The northern part was dedicated to defending the castle and the surrounding ancient houses, while the southern part was used for accommodation and storing foodstuff. The fourth floor had a library full of shelves with religious and scientific books, manuscripts and documents.

In 1991, the Ministry of Heritage and Culture restored the castle.  The damaged and affected areas - a result of weather conditions over time - were restored and opened to visitors in 1994.  In 2008, the castle was restored again with renovations in the watchtowers, corridors, arches and flooring, and opening a new door connecting the northern and southern part in the third floor to facilitate visitor movement.

The castle welcomes domestic and international visitors and is a big draw owing to its history and traditional military architecture.