Jabrin Castle, Oman

Just 9 kilometers from Bahla and 43 kilometers west of Nizwa is Jabrin Castle, built in 1670 as the palace of the ruling Imam Bil'arub bin Sultan (1670-92), and rising without competition from the surrounding plain. Jabrin Castle is ornately decorated and is arguably one of the most picturesque, thus has been described as the "Jewel in the Crown" of Omani castles and forts.

When it was built, Imam Bil'arub bin Sultan intended to move the seat of the Imamate from Nizwa to Jabrin and indeed Jabrin came, for a short while, to be known for "unity, peace and the call of Islam". It was a center of learning for the study of Islamic law, history, Arabic, medicine and astrology. However its glory lasted only some 20 years. In 1692, Imam Bil'arub was besieged by his brother Saif bin Sultan who took Jabrin. In about 1708, Saif bin Sultan's son, Sultan bin Saif moved the capital to Al Hazm.

In the 19th century Jabrin declined in importance, one visitor noted there was only a small garrison of 6 men, while another stated it was only used as a summer residence. After years of neglect, in the 1980s, Jabrin was taken over by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture who have restored it to its former glory. Today, it is a very popular visitor destination in Oman.

The most magical room in the Castle is the Hall of the Sun and the Moon, with high windows designed to allow the moonlight to stream in at night, and ventilated to allow cooling breezes in the day. The security aspect of the castle though was never far away. This is also one of the castles where the Imam's horse could be stabled within the castle itself - its stable reached by a wide and gently sloping ramp which has been replaced by a stairway. Besides the palace there was a famous Madrasah within the castle itself, with schoolroom, library and 2 mosques, a reminder that the Imam was a religious as well as a national leader.