Friday, February 10: The old Nizwa cemetery stretches out over 1km on either side of the road north of the city center. It contains thousands of graves dating back to the arrival of Islam. The gravestones themselves are simple and modest in the extreme, as Islamic tradition discourages the construction of elaborate funerary monuments.
If I hadn’t read in a guidebook that this was a cemetery, I would have thought it to be just a bizarre rock plain, as many of the gravestones are simple uncarved pieces of stone set upright in the ground. I find this fascinating, the fact that this place looks more like an odd natural phenomenon, rather than a man-made cemetery. I haven’t seen other cemeteries in Oman except the large one around the Bin Ali Tomb in Salalah; it has different kinds of markers, much like what we are used to seeing in early 19th century cemeteries in the Western world. The Nizwa Cemetery just looks like rocks gone mad.
It is said that many religious scholars and judges, famous from Nizwa’s early days, are buried here.
I would be curious to know from local Omanis the following: Are people who die in Nizwa today still buried in this cemetery? Are there other cemeteries in Nizwa? Are the stones ever marked with names, or are they always just simple unadorned and unmarked stones? Do people ever visit the graves of loved ones much like people do in America and in other cultures?
To get to the Nizwa cemetery, drive 1km north of the city center and turn left in front of a large watchtower, where a sign points to Hay al Ain.