A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about buildings

A Concert by the National Symphony Orchestra

A night of opulence at the Royal Opera House Muscat

sunny 22 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

I reached Muscat just before midnight after a 7.5 hour flight from Zurich. There was about an hour long stop over in Dubai where most people got off and the cabin was noticeably less formal once the flight was resumed.

Downtown Dubai from the air

Downtown Dubai from the air

It seemed to take an age to get my 20 Omani Rial (about £35) "Visa On Arrival" and get through passport control but eventually I emerged in the Arrivals Hall to be met by my cousin Sally and her husband Dave.

My visit coincided with a one date only visit by the National Symphony Orchestra from America to the new Royal Opera House in Muscat.

The Royal Opera House Muscat

The Royal Opera House Muscat

The building is stunning architecturally with no expense spared, obviously an attempt to get a bit of kudos over the neighbouring gulf states! The entrance hall feels particular opulent and many people wanted their photo taken by the bottom of the main staircase.

In Muscat the Royal Opera House is some where to be seen and mingling amongst the audience waiting to go in with us we saw UK TV presenter Michael Parkinson.

Main Staircase at the Royal Opera House Muscat

Main Staircase at the Royal Opera House Muscat


Me on the steps of the Royal Opera House Muscat

Me on the steps of the Royal Opera House Muscat


Sally and Dave at the Royal Opera House Muscat

Sally and Dave at the Royal Opera House Muscat

Although they were not so keen on photos being taken in the main auditorium it was equally stunning and we had a box right next to the stage, probably the best seats in the house although it felt we were a bit on show!

The Auditorium of the Royal Opera House Muscat

The Auditorium of the Royal Opera House Muscat


The Stage at the Royal Opera House Muscat from our Box next to the Stage

The Stage at the Royal Opera House Muscat from our Box next to the Stage

The conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra was Christoph Eschenbach and they performed Beethoven's Egmont Overture and Mozart's Turkish Concerto in the first half with Dan Zhou on violin. For the second half they played Brahms's Symphony No. 2 in D Major. The acoustics were brilliant and from where we were sat we could see every section of the Orchestra.

Posted by FrancisRTW 03:00 Archived in Oman Tagged buildings concerts opera_houses Comments (0)

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

The Grandest Building in Muscat

sunny 24 °C
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The most impressive building in Muscat is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque completed in 2001 to celebrate the 30th year of the Sultan's reign. It dominates the southern view from Highway 1 as it speeds through central Muscat.

The mosque, like all mosques, is aligned towards Mecca which for Muscat is to the west. We entered the mosque's precinct from the eastern gardens and walked along the southern outer sahn (or courtyard) to reach the entrance sahn into the main prayer hall.

The eastern gardens (complete with water features) at Muscat's Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

The eastern gardens (complete with water features) at Muscat's Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque


The southern outer sahn (courtyard) and riwaqs (arcades) of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

The southern outer sahn (courtyard) and riwaqs (arcades) of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque


The inner sahn and central minaret

The inner sahn and central minaret


The archways into the entrance sahn from the outer sahn

The archways into the entrance sahn from the outer sahn

The business end of the Mosque is the main prayer hall which can hold up to 6,600 worshippers which along with worshippers in other parts of the mosque means it can accommodate up to 20,000 people.

The focus of the main prayer hall is the mihrab or niche in its western wall which indicates the quibla (direction to the Kaaba in Mecca). During prayers this is where the Sultan is with the Iman preaching from the pulpit on the right hand side.

In addition to the ornate ceramic quibla, the main features of the main prayer hall is the impressive dome complete with a large chandelier containing 1,122 lamps. The mosque is also particularly proud of the single piece handmade Persian carpet which took 600 women four years to produce.

The Main Prayer Hall and Quibla at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

The Main Prayer Hall and Quibla at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque


Looking up at the dome and chandelier in the main prayer hall

Looking up at the dome and chandelier in the main prayer hall

Women use a separate prayer hall to the men located in front of the inner San which can accommodate 750 worshippers. As with the main prayer hall shoes need to be taken off before entering and placed in the shoe racks provided.

Shoe Racks by the entrance to the ladies prayer hall

Shoe Racks by the entrance to the ladies prayer hall


The Ladies Prayer Hall

The Ladies Prayer Hall

The Mosque is an architectural masterpiece whose whole precinct is kept in presstine condition. It is difficult to find a bad camera angle with the view from west or across the main transept particularly impressive.

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque


The main transept of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

The main transept of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Oman Tagged buildings mosque videos Comments (0)

The MBK Center and Siam Central

Shopping on Heat!

sunny 35 °C
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One thing I did not realise when I booked a hotel next door to the National Stadium Skytrain Station in Bangkok was that I would be next door to the most expansive shopping mall I had ever seen. I had heard of the MBK Center but until I experienced it I did not appreciate how unbelievably immense with an unexhaustable range of small stalls and shops it was. There are 7 floors and each floor seems to go on for ever, each time you think you have reached the end another bazaar of stalls and shops seems to open up before you.

The entrance to the MBK Center at night

The entrance to the MBK Center at night


Skytrains on multiple levels above the street outside the Siam Paragon

Skytrains on multiple levels above the street outside the Siam Paragon


Inside the MBK Center, escalators everywhere and you can not see all the floors!

Inside the MBK Center, escalators everywhere and you can not see all the floors!


The escalators to the lower floors of the MBK Center

The escalators to the lower floors of the MBK Center

You can buy just about anything you can think of in the MBK Center, the free directory of shops is 20 pages long! I wanted an off the shelf pair of specs to replace my tatty 2nd pair and instead ended up with my old pair fixed up as good as new for next to nothing while I waited; a concave piece of glass to my prescription was lazer cut and fitted to my frames right there in front of me. I never appreciated before how complex the process was - facinating! Thai Street Food is rightly famed across the world but for the mega lazy there is an international food hall at the MBK Center where you take a ticket, get anything you want to eat from the stalls - Greek, Japanese etc. as well as the more usual Thai and Chinese and then present your ticket to pay when you leave.

Crowds shopping in the MBK Center

Crowds shopping in the MBK Center


Shops and stalls as far as the eye can see (and further) in the MBK Center

Shops and stalls as far as the eye can see (and further) in the MBK Center


Descending down onto the Ground Floor of the MBK Center

Descending down onto the Ground Floor of the MBK Center

Anyhow enough with shopping! Equally interesting was how all the shopping centres competed with each other to attract shoppers. On my first night I stumbled on a Thai Boxing Tournament outside the MBK Center, not something on my list but a spectacle none the less.

Thai Boxing underway outside the MBK Center

Thai Boxing underway outside the MBK Center


One of the boxers is floored during a Thai Boxing Bout

One of the boxers is floored during a Thai Boxing Bout


The final Thai Boxing bout of the night was Female

The final Thai Boxing bout of the night was Female

Meanwhile the large more convential shopping centres next door had a free fashion show for a new product launch while another had a pop concert being broadcast live on radio.

The Entrance to the Siam Paragon Shopping Mall

The Entrance to the Siam Paragon Shopping Mall


Fashion Show at the Siam Center

Fashion Show at the Siam Center


Fashion Show at the Siam Center Shopping Mall

Fashion Show at the Siam Center Shopping Mall


Free Concert underway by the dancing fountains between the Siam Center and Siam Paragon Shopping Malls

Free Concert underway by the dancing fountains between the Siam Center and Siam Paragon Shopping Malls

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged buildings markets sport city videos solo Comments (0)

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