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.