Travel to 20 of the Most Incredible Places and Popular Tourist Attractions in Afghanistan
Even while the city of Samangan used to serve as a waystation for merchant caravans travelling along the fringes of the historic Silk Road, this fact is not what draws most tourists to the area today. This honour is bestowed upon the mysterious cave systems of Takht I Rostam, which carve their passageways through the dusty and narrow peaks of the mountains in the surrounding area. It is believed that these structures were built during the 4th and 5th century AD. They are adorned with exquisite Buddhist motifs of lotus leaves, all of which are concentrated on an interior mud-brick stupa. They offer a fascinating look into a pre-Islamic era that is almost completely lost to history.
Herat is the third-largest city in Afghanistan, and it is easy to see why it has such a Persian flavour to it. The city is located only a stone’s throw away from the Iranian border, and it was formerly the residence of the Timurid empire (an ancestry that blended elements of Turkic, Persian and Mongol culture in their age). The Friday Mosque is the town’s most impressive architectural achievement. Due to the fact that it is believed to be more than 800 years old, this magnificent edifice, which is characterised by turquoise-crowned minarets and dazzling tiles, is sure to arouse a variety of emotions. In addition, there is the Herat Citadel to explore, as well as the mausoleums of renowned Sufi poets, all of which have contributed to Herat’s status as one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Afghanistan.
The history of Balkh, which dates back around 4,000 years and was formerly the capital of the Bactrian Empire, can be traced all the way back to virtually the beginning of recorded time. In point of fact, it was in these mountain ranges, high up in the crevices of the northern peaks of the Hindu Kush, where Buddhism and Zoroastrianism first flourished and were established. By the time the Venetian explorer Marco Polo came in the 1300s, the city would have been destroyed (even by Genghis Khan himself) and restored multiple times, but a recollection of its enormous consolidation barriers and educational institutions would still have remained fit. Marco Polo was a Venetian. There is a distinct and palpable history to be observed among the bustling bazaars and the emerald-colored Green Mosque, despite the fact that the city is no longer anything close to being the regal hub it once was.
Jalalabad, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan on Thursday, June 23, 2011. (courtesy of S.K. Vemmer and the Department of State)
Jalalabad is a city that, like so many other cities in these parts, was founded by the emperor Akbar. Jalalabad is a place where the passage of time is so pervasive that it is virtually tangible. You can frequently just about make out the snow-capped peaks of the Safid Mountain Range on the skyline, and assume how the Mughal armies would have felt as they thought about them way back in the 1500s. Nearer to the town and the climate grants for citrus orchards and green parks – something Jalalabad is famous for. You may also locate the mausoleum of King Amanullah Khan, meet the locals for a tense game of cricket, or simply tour the well-kept parks and gardens. All of these activities are available.
- Mazar-e Sharif
The magnificent blue domes of Mazar-e Sharif’s Blue Mosque may be seen rising over the city’s horizon, where they radiate a dazzling white-hot light in the blazing heat of the Balkh sun. It is well known as the burial of Ali bin Talib, who was the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is an appealing array of arabesque and south Asian architecture, finished with turquoise-blue domes and gold-dotted minarets. Ali bin Talib’s cemetery is one of the most visited Islamic sites. Mazar-e Sharif is home to a large number of Greek ruins, some of which date back to the time when Alexander the Great’s armies marched through the region in the third century BC. However, the town’s history as a Muslim stronghold is only one of its many distinguishing features.
In addition to being the revered location of the Mosque of the Sacred Cloak, Kandahar is also a city that is steeped in history. It is located at a crossroads where the mountains of southern Afghanistan meet the mountains of the country’s central area. It is the traditional seat of power for the Pashtun people, and it served as the heart of the last Afghan empire under the reign of Ahmad Shah Durrani. People travel from all over to see the mysterious engravings of the illustrious Mughal conqueror Babur on the Chilzina View, which is located right on the outskirts of town. Currently, the location is filled with mosques, shrines, and mausoleums dedicated to prominent figures from the nation’s history.
- Minaret of Jam
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that can be found in the province of Ghor, and its name of the district is Shahrak. The bricks that make up the minaret were burned at some point during its construction in the 12th century. These bricks show intricate calligraphic engravings in Arabic. These engravings include lines from the Quran, the Muslim statement of religion, names and designations of regional authorities, and the Muslim confession of faith. The Ghurid dynasty in the Middle Ages constructed over 60 minarets, including this one, which stands at a height of 62 metres and is one of those minarets. Bricks were used to construct this world’s tallest brick minaret, which has an octagonal base and a light atop its dome. It was really linked to the Friday Mosque, which suffered the misfortune of being destroyed by a severe flood in the 13th century.
17. Museum of Afghanistan
The current location of the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul’s Bagh Bala palace dates back to its establishment in 1919. Kabul is the capital city of Afghanistan. Important records, works of art, and weapons that belonged to Afghanistan’s previous dynastic rulers are stored in there. The move took place in 1931, and the new location is approximately nine kilometres north of the city’s central business district. Due to the excavating that was done by the Delegation Archeologique Française in Afghanistan, the actual collection was significantly augmented with ancient artefacts spanning the entirety of Afghanistan’s historical timeline.
In the province of Balkh, about 20 kilometres away from the town of Mazare Sharif, is the town of Balkh, also known in past times as Bactria or Tokharistan. Balkh is located in the northwest corner of Afghanistan. According to the Persian poet Firdowsi, Zoroaster passed away in this location, and Marco Polo described it as being gorgeous and spectacular. According to Firdowsi, it was Zoroaster’s final refuge before he passed away. After Alexander the Great took control of this region, Balkh went on to become the capital of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, which was established as a result. Balkh was also well-known as a Buddhist centre, and it was there that the well-known monks Trapusa and Bahalika lived and were buried. After the Islamic triumph, the town was conquered by several dynasties until it fell under Genghis Khan’s control and was subsequently destroyed. It was reestablished once more in the 14th century, but it finally fell into the hands of Afghans in the year 1752. Relics of Buddhist shrines may be found in the old area of Balkh, which also features Greek accommodation, a tomb, and a mosque. The Buddhist stupa Takhte-Rostam is the most remarkable of these structures since it was built underground, in a tunnel that is eight metres below the surface.
Balkh was also well-known as a Buddhist centre, and it was there that the well-known monks Trapusa and Bahalika lived and were buried. After the Islamic triumph, the town was conquered by several dynasties until it fell under Genghis Khan’s control and was subsequently destroyed. It was reestablished once more in the 14th century, but it finally fell into the hands of Afghans in the year 1752. Relics of Buddhist shrines may be found in the old area of Balkh, which also features Greek accommodation, a tomb, and a mosque. The Buddhist stupa Takhte-Rostam is the most remarkable of these structures since it was built underground, in a tunnel that is eight metres below the surface.
19. Great Mosque of Heart
The Great Mosque of Heart is a true gem among the mosques in Afghanistan. It was created by the Ghurid dynasty in the 13th century and is currently one of the most popular tourist sites in Afghanistan. Even though it has never been the largest mosque in the city, it has frequently served as a congregational mosque for the Friday prayers that are held there. The mosque has a standard rectangular foundation with the main square and three fantastically adorned iwans in addition to eight minarets and six gates for access. In addition, the main plaza serves as the prayer space for the community. Because the original structure was subjected to countless devastation in the 18th century, the majority of the mosque that stands here now is completely new.
20. Blue Mosque of Mazar-e Sharif
The Blue Mosque in Mazari Sharif is often referred to as the Mausoleum of Ali. It is an impressive religious complex that was erected in the 15th century and has been the symbol of this town for centuries. The body of the fourth Khalifa Ali was said to have been brought here on a white camel to be buried, according to a tale. This was done to protect his corpse from being damaged by his adversaries after he had passed away. The ziaratkhana, which houses the body of Ali and is located in the center of this rectangular shrine, is separated from the antechamber, which serves as a place for prayer and reflection. The central portion of the mosque is flanked on each side by smaller chambers that serve as the last resting places for important historical figures such as Afghan leaders and imams. The outside of the mosque is completely covered in a mosaic made of multicolored tiles that dates back to the 20th century.