Herat City in Afghanistan

This is a site about Herat City in the west of Aghanistan.

Herat is one of the larger Afghan cities but is smaller than Kabul and Kandahar. Lying on the ancient trade routes to and from Asia, it has long been a prosperous and historical city.

Herat is the capital the same-named province. It’s in the same valley as the Hari River. That river travels all the way to the Karakum Desert. There’s also a big circular highway that connects Herat to Kandahar, Mazar-i Sharif and Kabul.

Herāt has existed as a city for 2,700 years. It used to be known for its wine. Many historic buildings belong to this city, although some have been destroyed or damaged in conflicts.

Lying on the old trade roads that link Central and South Asia and the Middle East, Herat is still strategically important to this day. Its location no doubt contributed to its old-time wealth and the fame that this city still enjoys.

An older structure in the historic core of Herat is Qala e Ikhtyaruddin, built on the site of an cathedral built by Alexander the Great. The layout of battlements and towers that survive is thought to date from the early 14th century AD, when the Karts re-built a fortress that had been destroyed by the Mongols. Situated at the northern edge of the square-plan old city, the citadel was during the 15th and 16th centuries AD the seat of the Timurid rulers, and was part of the architectural works undertaken by Shah Rukh, who commissioned the tilework that can still be seen on several towers. The citadel underwent conservation in the 1970’s.

Perhaps the largest historic architectural ensemble that survives in the region today is the Musalla complex, built in the early 15th century under the direction of Queen Gawharshad. The complex, which has been described as “the most beautiful example in colour in architecture ever devised by man to the glory of his God and himself” today comprises a mosque, the mausoleum of Gawharshad, five minarets and the remains of the madrasa of Hussein Baiqara. Although damaged during fighting in the early 1990s, the mausoleum of Gawharshad retains its ribbed tiled dome, which is set above a high drum covered in tiled decoration, both with Koranic inscriptions and abstract patterns. The interior of the structure, where the tombstones of the Queen, her son Baisunghur and other members of the family survive, has important painted and stucco ornamentation. Only one minaret, which is badly damaged and is being stabilized, remains of the entrance to a madrasa complex that was associated with the musalla, which had a total of four minarets, and represents the zenith of Timurid architectural achievement.

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