The Omani peninsular exclave of Musandam holds several of the most interesting forts the country has to offer—which is saying quite a lot indeed, given how many fortresses are peppered all around Oman. Several of these forts tend to stand out from amongst the rest, though, either due to their historic significance, their sheer architectural uniqueness, or even the singular beauty of their location. While the forts perhaps best known in the country are the twins of Muscat Bay—Al Mirani and Al Jalali—there are other equally interesting castles in Oman that the lover of fortresses may want to visit… and which may be more worthwhile to visit in some ways, in fact, given that they are not closed to the public (as Al Mirani and Al Jalali are). One superb example is found in the town or Wilayat of Bukha, in Musandam.
Bukha is pretty close to the most popular town in this Omani exclave: it is only 26 kilometres or so away from the Musandam capital, Khasab. As such, most people visiting the exclave tend to stay in the facilities and establishments in Khasab, which is the more developed town, and then just drive over to Bukha for a visit. This is not to say that the latter town is of less import to Oman: this is supposedly the place where the first of the country’s offshore oil fields was based.
The town itself, while even now modernising, started out as a simple fishing village. One can certainly see why: it is perched almost on the very edge of the great crescent bay. The fort itself is so close to the beach that people call it a beach fortress, the sands at the foot of its walls the same sands lining the bay itself. This is actually part of why the castle is so popular with holidaymakers and sightseers: it looks like something straight out of a fairytale, a castle driven so near the waters that it is only a few hundred metres away from them even at high tide.
Bukha Fort is supposed to be from the 16th century, and unlike many other impressive forts in Oman, was not built by the Portuguese. Instead, it was constructed on the orders of Saif bin Sultan Al’Yarubi, and was renovated later, in the 1990’s. The other piece to the puzzle of the fort’s appeal is its tower: it is unique in the country, having a configuration reminiscent of a pear. It curves very gently almost into a hump to the middle, and then tapers slightly inwards at the top. Military specialists say this vested it with better defensive capabilities than the traditional Omani tower as a result.
The Bukha Fort is open to visitors, unlike many of the country’s other famous forts, and a visit to it is a wonderful experience. Even the ancient prison inside and the fantastically well-preserved materials used for torturing prisoners (not as gruesome as you think: they are primarily just locks and weights made to keep them prisoners from moving) are interesting. The true beauty of the fort is best experienced at sunrise and sunset, though: you can either climb atop its battlements to view the setting or rising sun on the beach horizon or sit on the beach and take photos of the fort as it takes on a reddish, golden hue.