An important trading port between East and West since the first century, Muscat's influence once extended as far as East Africa and Zanzibar. While much of the city’s construction is new, it all displays traditional Arabic stylistic elements, creating a handsome and cohesive whole that incorporates a rich history. Two seemingly invincible mountainside forts from the 1500s flank the palace of the sultan, though today they are both museums. A major highlight is the Muttrah Souq, Muscat's oldest market. Colorful and bustling, it is a fascinating place to browse, as well as to bargain for exotic spices, traditional handicrafts, or gold and frankincense.
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