Nizwa Fort, Nizwa, Oman
The fort in Nizwa, Oman is an imposing structure – circular gunnery, expansive courtyards, ominous murder holes. Wait now. Murder holes? I had never heard of the term before, so being the nosey Parker that I am, I had to investigate. And besides, if I was lucky, perhaps there would even be demonstrations. You know — infidels and ne’er-do-wells being snuffed out in the name of tourism, that sort of thing. Regrettably, the Omani people are much friendlier than that.
Inside, various displays showcase what Nizwa Fort looked like back in it’s 1650s heyday – including canned goods, jars of jam, and what appears to be a plastic toy telephone. (Actually, I’m just being a jerk — this is part of the display explaining the Nizwa souq, or market, which is located just outside the fort.) There are however a pretty hefty number of displays spread throughout the Exhibits Hall detailing the fort’s history and the story of the city of Nizwa.
But it’s the murder holes that have piqued my interest.
Anatomy of a Murder Hole
So what exactly is a murder hole? Well, it’s a lot like you’d imagine.
The slit you see below at the top of the entrance to the fort is a murder hole (or meurtrière if you like) – one of five as you make your way up the winding staircase.
Basically, boiling date syrup would be poured through the holes onto potential intruders, leaving them burned yet surprisingly tasty. Heavy objects (did they have anvils back then?) would then be dropped through the murder hole Wile E. Coyote-style to finish them off.
(click on any image to enlarge)
And in the off chance that the murder hole didn’t get them, then the trap doors certainly would. (Sorry for the crap photo.)Those of you who do make to the top (and you will – remember the murder holes ARE out of commission) will be met with some pretty nifty views of the gunnery, the town, and the Nizwa Friday Mosque.
Nizwa Fort Opening hours: Saturday to Thursday, 9am – 4pm; Friday 8am – 11am
Admission price: Adults, 1 Omani Rial; Children, 500 baisa (no refunds if the murder hole gets you)
Have you seen any murder holes anywhere else in your travels?