To Losted Kingdoms
To Losted Kingdoms
Balkh is an ancient town located in the northern part of Afghanistan, about 20 kilometers northwest of the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. It sits on the ancient Silk Road trade route that connected China with the Mediterranean.
History: Balkh is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a history that dates back more than 5,000 years. It has been a center of trade, culture, and religion for centuries, and has been ruled by various empires and dynasties over the years, including the Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Mongols, and Timurids.
Landmarks: There are several landmarks in Balkh that are of historical and cultural significance. One of the most notable is the Blue Mosque, a stunning 15th-century mosque that is considered one of the finest examples of Timurid architecture in the world. Other landmarks include the ancient city walls, the Shrine of Hazrat Ali, and the tomb of the poet Rumi.
Culture: Balkh has a rich cultural heritage, and is known for its traditional crafts such as carpet weaving and embroidery. The town is also famous for its literature and poetry, and was the birthplace of several prominent poets and scholars, including Rumi, one of the most beloved poets in the world.
Overall, Balkh is a fascinating and culturally significant town with a long and storied history. Despite the challenges it has faced in recent years, it remains an important part of Afghanistan's cultural landscape.
The Blue Mosque is the center of all the social and religious life of the city. It would be built on the tomb of Ali ibn Abi Talib, relative and companion of the prophet Mohamed. The Sultan of the Seljuq dynasty, Ahmed Sanjar (1118-1157), built the first known shrine at this location. It was destroyed during the invasion of Genghis Khan around 1220. In the 15th century, Timurid Sultan Husayn Bayqarah Mirza built the current Blue Mosque here. The shrine is surrounding by Rawza parks.
Of all the natural wonders of Afghanistan, the lakes of Band-e Amir are perhaps the most out-standing. Situated in the mountainous Hazarajat at an altitude of approximately 3000m, 75km from Bamiyan, these majestic blue lakes are of legendary beauty.
It is the country’s first national park, officially designated as such in 2009, and is home to six lakes that are most famous for their striking deep blue shade, a result of mineral deposits. The lakes are separated by natural travertine deposits, making it one of the world’s only travertine systems. It is framed by the Hindu Kush mountains, and acts as one of the centres of Afghan tourism. While the region provides a wealth of natural and agricultural resources, the opportunities for ecotourism mean that there has been a decrease in economic dependency on these resources.
Kabul is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It has a population of around 4.5 million people and is located in the eastern part of the country, at the foot of the Hindu Kush mountain range.
Kabul may have originated under the Achaemenid Empire as early as the 6th century BC. Since then, the Kabul region has been a crossroads between India, China and the West. But also a crossroads of cultures and religions. Its history is rich, and in 1504 it became the main capital of the Mogul Empire.
The most important monuments of the city are the fortress of Bâlâ Hissâr which finds its origin at the time of Turki-Chachis; the garden of Babur and his tomb; the white marble mausoleum and mosque of Châh Djahân; the mausoleum of Timour Châh built in the garden of Châhar Bâgh; the former royal palace; the palace of Bagh-e Bâlâ; the Djâda-e Esteqlâl mosque; the Mausoleum of Abdur Rahman; the palace of Darulaman (or Aman) and the mausoleum of Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani.
Kabul has also been heavily affected by the passed conflict in Afghanistan, and has seen much destruction and violence in recent years. Despite this, the city is still home to a vibrant and resilient population, with a strong sense of community and a rich cultural heritage.
It is also a good starting point for excursions to the surrounding countryside, such as to the historic city of Bagram and the Panjshir Valley.
The 4th city of the country is the economic center of northern Afghanistan, some 60 km south of the Uzbek city Termez. It is known for its magnificent blue mosque and the tomb of Mohammed's cousin, and it is in his honor that the city is called "the tomb of the saint". The city is very old, but Balkh, the neighboring city, already existed in the Bronze Age.
Some of the historical sites in Mazar-i-Sharif include:
Blue Mosque: Also known as the Shrine of Hazrat Ali, this is the most famous historical site in Mazar-i-Sharif. It is a beautiful blue-tiled mosque that is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Afghanistan.
Balkh ruins: The ancient city of Balkh is located just 24 km outside Mazar-i-Sharif and is considered to be one of the oldest cities in the world. The ruins of the city include the remains of ancient palaces, temples, and fortifications.
Hazrat-i-Baba Shrine: This is a Sufi shrine located on a hill just outside of Mazar-i-Sharif. It is a popular destination for pilgrims and visitors alike, offering beautiful views of the surrounding area.
Takht-i-Rustam: This is an ancient fortress located just south of Mazar-i-Sharif. It was built by Alexander the Great and is said to have been the site of his coronation as the King of Asia.
Qala-e-Murghab: This is a 19th-century fort located in the heart of Mazar-i-Sharif. It was built by the ruler of the city at the time to protect against invading forces.
The city is also home to numerous museums, bazaars, and other cultural attractions that offer a glimpse into the region's rich history and traditions.
Herat is a city located in western Afghanistan, near the border with Iran. It is the third-largest city in Afghanistan and the capital of Herat province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, and is often referred to as the "heart of Afghanistan" due to its central location in the country.
The Old City of Herat has a long history of rebuilding and restoration, having been destroyed twice by the Mongols and rebuilt as the capital of the Timurid Empire in the 15th century. The city's position along the Silk Road between Europe and Asia made it a desirable target for conquerors and occupants, leaving behind a blend of architectural styles and cultural influences. The Old City is a traditional Islamic urban center, and features notable landmarks such as the Qala Ikhtyaruddin citadel and the Masjid Jame Friday mosque, known for its bright blue minarets. Although the original defensive earthen walls surrounding the town have disappeared, the layout and much of the historic fabric remained intact until 1978.
Today, Herat is a bustling city with a population of around 400,000 people. It is an important center of industry and commerce in Afghanistan, and is home to a number of universities and research institutions. The city has a diverse population, with ethnic groups such as Tajiks, Uzbeks, Pashtuns, Hazaras and Balochs. The city has a rich culture with many traditional bazaars, museums, and festivals. The city is also known for its traditional crafts, particularly its textiles and ceramics.
The Jami Masjid, Friday mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Herat, is a significant historical and architectural landmark located in the Old City of Herat, Afghanistan. It is one of the oldest and largest mosques in the region and is considered a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. The mosque was built in the 12th century and has undergone several renovations and restorations over the centuries. It is well-known for its bright blue minarets, which are adorned with intricate tile work, and its large central dome which sits above the prayer hall.
The mosque is also known for its historical significance as it served as a center for religious and cultural activities during the Timurid dynasty. It has also been used as a center for education, including the study of Islamic law and theology. The mosque is still in use today and is open to visitors.
The Friday mosque is one of the most iconic landmarks of Herat, its blue Minarets are one of the most recognizable architectural features in the city, and it is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Herat. It is an important example of Islamic architecture and showcases the rich history and cultural heritage of the city.