Hisn Tamah Fortress in Bahla, Oman

The imposing Hisn Tamah fortress in the city of Bahla in northern Oman is one of the country's most important cultural sights. Hisn Tamah is the only Omani fortress to have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Towering over the Omani city of Bahla in the north of the country is the mighty Hisn Tamah. It is one of our 10 most beautiful forts in Oman and one of our top 10 sights in Oman. Its light, sand-coloured walls stand out clearly against the dark background of the mighty Jebel Akhdar mountain range.


PICTURES: Hisn Tamah Fortress in Bahla

Photo gallery: Hisn Tamah Fortress in Bahla

Bahla - mud city, royal city

Bahla is located in the Wadi Bahla in an oasis of date gardens and palm groves west of the city of Nizwa. The building material of which not only the fortress of Hisn Tamah but the whole of Bahla is made is abundant in the surroundings of Bahla in the form of clay.

The entire town is surrounded by a 13km long and, at 5 metres, unusually high wall. The longest city wall in Oman was also built entirely of mud bricks. In the past, the wall was guarded by soldiers along its entire length.

PICTURES: City wall of Bahla

Photo gallery: City wall of Bahla

However, it is not only the buildings that are made of clay. At the Bahla souq opposite the fortress, the pottery art of the local craftsmen can be admired in the impressive clay works.

Origin and renovation of the fortress Hisn Tamah

The light, sand-colored walls of Bahla Fortress stand out clearly against the dark background of the mighty Jebel Akhdar mountain range, Oman - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

Exactly when Hisn Tamah was built is - like its creators - unknown, but it is assumed that the fortress was built in the 17th century by the Nabhani and named after their ruler. Since 1987, Hisn Tamah has been the only Omani fortress to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The designation as a World Heritage Site tipped the scales in favour of a comprehensive renovation of the Hisn Tamah fortress. The fortress is built entirely of clay and was therefore very susceptible to the effects of the weather as well as to the repair work itself. In order to damage the fortress as little as possible and to preserve the title of World Heritage Site, Hisn Tamah was renovated using only traditional methods. The result is something to be proud of!


Mighty defence towers bear witness to the once great strategic importance of Bahla, which had to be defended. The interior of the thick walls was accessed through 15 massive gates, which have also been completely renovated.

However, the monumental fortress' mighty appearance is not most spectacular from the inside. The dimensions of this imposing bulwark can best be grasped from a distance.

Animal market in Bahla

On Thursdays, an animal market is held in Bahla, which is just as lively as the Friday animal market in Nizwa, especially between 8 and 9 am. However, there are far fewer tourists here, which gives the market a very special, original flair.

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