Muscat – the capital and largest city of Oman, the seat of the Governorate of Muscat (with population of 1.4 million and area of 3,500 km2). Its beginnings are dating back to the early 1st century. The Muscat port was an important trading point between the West and the East. The origin of the name of the city is either Arabic or Old Persian, a popular derivation connect the name “Muscat” with Arabic “anchorage” or “hidden” (and the Muscat is hidden between the rocky Western Al Hajar Mountains).
Old Muscat is the historic part of Muscat, separated from the modern city by coastal mountains and the city walls with round towers (from 1625), located between Port Sultan Qaboos and Al Bustan.
The Al Alam Palace (Qasr al-Alam, Palace of the Flag) – the palace of the Sultan, used for representative purposes, located in Old Muscat, Oman. The most important of the six royal residences of the monarch (other: around Muscat, Salalah and Sohar). The palace was built under the ruling of Imam Sultan bin Ahmed, rebuilt in 1972 in contemporary Islamic design. The Al Alam Palace, surrounded by govnrment buldings, is not open to the public. Opposite the palace, there is the National Museum of Oman (opened in 2016).
In the neighbourhood:
Al Jalali Fort (Ash Sharqiya Fort) – a fort, built in the 1580s by the Portuguese, in the Old Muscat harbour. Taken back by the Omanis in 1650, in 17th century it was captured twice by Persians. Used as a refuge or as a jail for a members of the royal family and in 20th century (till 1970s) as a main Omani prison. Restored in 1983, now a private museum of Omani heritage (admission only by permit of the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture).