Clustered around a small bay at the far eastern end of the capital lies MUSCAT proper – often referred to as Old Muscat to distinguish it from the surrounding city to which it has now given its name. Despite serving as the home of the ruling sultan, Old Muscat retains the feel of a small and decidedly sleepy little town, quite distinct from the rest of the city, from which it’s separated by a swathe of craggy mountains. Additional protection is afforded by the unattractively restored city walls which guard the landward approaches. Right up until the mid-twentieth century the gates were closed three hours after dusk, and anyone venturing out onto the streets afterwards was obliged to carry a lantern with them – just one of the unusual local laws which also included a ban on smoking in the main streets and playing music in public.





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