Special feature Oman: Qalhat, Marco Polo's port of call
About twelve miles north of Sour, stands by the sea a plateau covered in debris. These are the ruins of Qalhat, a prosperous town in the 13th century that was destroyed by an earthquake. On his return from China, as he was sailing along the Arab coast, Marco Polo stopped off here. In his book, The Description of the World, he mentions the town of Qalhat and describes it as being very important in terms of trade at that time. Hit by an earthquake at the end of the 15th century, Qalhat was subsequently raided by the Portuguese. Today there is only one monument standing, the sanctuary of Bibi Maryam, that was at the time part of a mosque dedicated to this Islamic saint. The ancient port was destroyed by mudslides following the earthquake.
Muscat, full of contrasts