Misfat al Abriyyin – Misfat al Abriyyin, Oman - Atlas Obscura

Misfat al Abriyyin

Misfat al Abriyyin, Oman

Traditional architecture and ancient irrigation systems are on display in this gorgeous mountain village. 


Misfat al Abriyyin is a beautiful rural village near Nizwa that’s notable for both its traditional architecture and agriculture. Seen from the distance, this mountain village is a remarkable sight, as its verdant gardens sit in stark contrast with the rocky, rugged, and arid valley. 

First of all, Misfat al Abriyyin (also spelled Misfat al Abriyeen) consists of an interesting amalgam of traditional mud houses and more recent additions and renovations. The houses are packed together, and above narrow alleyways the buildings are connected. The alleys are interspersed with uneven steps and steep ramps, with narrower passageways branching off to a house or the gardens. 

Seen from the garden, it’s possible to appreciate the architectural feat of building multi-story houses perched on boulders. Although some of the older buildings are abandoned, Misfat al Abriyyin is a living village. The residents here make a living from the gardens, and to a lesser extent, tourism. 

Thickets of date palm trees cover the terraces, surrounded for miles by barren rocks. Agriculture in the village has succeeded through the centuries thanks to a traditional Omani irrigation system known as aflaj, underpinned by a communal understanding of natural resources. There is archaeological evidence that aflaj was used in Oman as early as 5,000 years ago. It is a simple but effective way of using water, in which water sources found uphill are channeled through a village and its adjacent gardens. 

Know Before You Go

Misfat al Abriyyin is located 34 miles (55 km) northwest of Nizwa. A paved road leads to the village, but the village itself can only be explored on foot, as it consists of narrow passageways up and down the steep slopes of the hill. Signs at the entrance of the village request visitors to dress modestly (i.e. long trousers/skirts and no bare shoulders), to refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol, and to not pick fruit. Basic accommodation and food is available in Misfat al Abriyyin. A shop at the entrance of the village sells local produce, such as honey and date syrup.

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January 24, 2019

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