Fort Jalali

Fort Jalali

Muscat [Mascate], Persian Gulf | Red Sea, Oman

Military Architecture

In front of the Mirani Fort across the curving bay stands Fort Jalali, which Bocarro calls the Fort of Boqueirão. Viceroy Duarte de Meneses ordered it built in 1588. It is a robust and impressive structure which according to António Bocarro was accessed by an 80-step staircase, in the middle of which was a ravelim used as a lookout post. The platform above the water contained a cistern carved in the rock, which Mariano Saldanha says was vaulted, as well as three houses, the first used for supplies, another for ammunition and a third for the captain. Still according to that chronicler, from it one could see an oreillon, a sort of small bastion with three artillery pieces aimed at Qurayat. On the left side of this bastion was a gate accessing the sea, very well depicted by Barreto de Resende. The reality corresponds to the description, although those in the city have a different view of it. The erection of the bastions, resembling the towers so much to local tastes, conveys the image of a castle which contrasts with the modernity at the time when it was built. Two towers are round and the other quadrangular. Another tower was built near the ravelin mid-slope, presumably the location of the guardhouse. The houses at the top, built along the lines of twin towers, have lookout posts very similar to the ones at Fort Jesus in Mombasa. A long section of walls connects the towers, forming a central terrace onto which the garrison quarters open. On the wall by the bay side are eight pairs of large windows. A round tower was added to the original bastions, one quadrangular and the other polygonal, which look over the bay. This tower was set on the opposite side inland at a point where the wall inflects. In 1982 the Jalali Fort was restored by the Wimpey Alawi Company; it is currently used as a museum. The fort’s perimeter measures about 240 metres; the face overlooking the bay measures approximately 50. During the Portuguese period the so-called Boqueirão Fort was named after Saint John (São João), subsequently taking its current name of Jalali.

Eduardo Kol de Carvalho