Gates to the palace, with the Royal shield.
 
Hey! It's bright out! The palace is in the background, and for all the world, it looks like gigantic golf tees to my eye... yeah, irreverent...
View in the other direction from the palace.
And the harbour, on the back side of the palace, with a fort.
There's a network of forts and watch towers overlooking the harbours. Some are still in use, others are being refurbished for tourist purposes. This one's still in use, complete with armed guards outside. Nope, I didn't take their photo!
Back side of the palace, overlooking the water. That's Benita at the sea wall.
A view of the dome and one entrance of the Grand Mosque.
One of the five minarets. By the way, evidently there are rarely clouds (and rain maybe once a year?) in Muscat... Benita was impressed to see the clouds! :-)
Behind the people, off in the distance, another mosque is framed by these arches. There's Arabic script carved around the arches.
The Grand Mosque is completely amazing! The scale and detail are so difficult to capture in photos! Several types of stone were imported, some lavender, some creamy white, some rosy beige. Some is marble, some is sandstone, all are beautiful!
I got kind of lost, but fortunately Benita knew where we were going. Phew!
The play of light and shadow, with the arches and reflections on the floors is so beautiful, and serene... We arrived early, to be ahead of the crowds. Non-Muslim visiting hours are from 8 a.m. to about 11:00 a.m., daily, except Fridays (no visitors on the holy day).
Looking across the main prayer area, under the huge dome.

This is the looking up at the rotunda. This light fixture weighs over 5 tonnes and easily accommodates two adult men inside it, to change light bulbs. In real life, it's breathtaking!

Here's a bigger photo of it to see a bit of detail --- it's all Swarovski crystal and zillions of halogen lights. This is a HUGE photo, so it may take a while to download...

 
Attempt at detail of the edge of the rotunda. It's about 80 feet in diameter, with a design on the carpet which echoes the size of the dome.
This is a small chandalier, not the main/large one.
Visitors must remove their shoes and stay on the blue carpet, inside the buildings. Outside, shoes are fine. The script is from the Koran, and is also carved into the stone all around the mosque!

Detail from above shot. Here's a large one for detail. This is all handmade tiny bits of fired, painted clay, pieced together. The mosque design took two years, then another six to build. So fast!

Uhm, the large photo, unlike the building of the mosque, may not be fast to download... :-)

The large circle in the center of the carpet reflects the dome, above. This area can hold some 4000 people, seated.
The carpet is wool and all hand-knotted. The tiny jogs of stone were taken into account and woven to fit the building perfectly. It weights over 21 tonnes...
Looking up to the ceiling, and another smaller chandalier.
Looking down the side of the main prayer area.
I forget where this stone came from, but it's marble, if I recall correctly. Same stone is used in the arches in the photo above.
The guys in blue are workers who keep the place looking beautiful.
 
Haha! This guy walked past us, then as we carried on, I noticed him sneaking a peek at his cell phone in the staircase.
Looking to the northwest, I think.
Another of the five minarets.
There are a jag of wall panels depictiing different cultural influences on Islam. I don't recall which was what, just that they were all different and so intricate. Beautiful! This one has a water fountain in front of it. Some are larger than others, not sure why.
 
 
This is a detail of the arch immediately above. The tiny bits of tiling are all hand-done, hand-cut, painted and then assembled. Ugh!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
There are several "ablution areas" for washing the feet before entering the mosque at prayer time. In the off-hours, the pigeons and birds also like to bathe here. :-)
From above, looking down a hallway. The sun has dispersed the clouds again.
Isn't the light and shadow effect lovely?
Sun's out and people have arrived!
A quite moment between crowds. It would be so sacrilegious, but what a place to roller blade!
 
The end of a wonderful visit to the mosque! At night time, the dome is lit, golden, from within.
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