What To See And Do In Herat
A relatively brief article such as this is nowhere near long enough to describe every single thing to see and do in Herat but we’re going to try and provide an overview of the types of things available.
With it’s overwhelmingly Islamic influence, it’s no surprise that Herat features many mosques. The most important example is the Jumah Mosque, also known as the Friday Mosque of Herat. It was begun in the 13th century and has been added to and improved in the subsequent centuries by Mughals and Uzbeks among others. It replaced two Zoroastrian Fire Temples and a smaller, older Islamic mosque. It’s referred to as the Friday mosque as this is the day when sermons are provided to larger crowds in the bigger mosques. Other mosques in Herat include Shah Zahdahe, Gazargah Sharif and Khalghe Sharif.
The Citadel is where most visitors head to begin with. Alexander the Great appears to have been responsible for its construction when he conquered the region in 330BC. In recent years it has been beautifully restored by Afghan tradesman following many years of neglect. Interestingly it was restored in the late 1970s by UNESCO before being damaged in later conflicts. Built as a fort and trading centre, the Citadel helped cement Herat’s status as a major stop on the silk road. It’s worth noting that over the centuries the Citadel has been almost completely destroyed several times and then rebuilt.
Tombs and Mausoleums
Like many old cities, Herat has a custom of remembering it’s influential citizens and in this case it’s by the construction of tombs and mausoleums. One of our favourites is the 1000 year old Gazar Gar (it’s full name is the Khwaya ‘Abd Allah Ansari tomb) and it houses the remains of the sufi mystic Khwajah Abdullah Ansari. It’s not the only one and other tombs include the Tomb of Jami, the Tomb of khaje Qaltan and the Mausoleum of Mirwais Sadiq.
To get to Herat the easiest way is to fly from Kabul but the more adventurous may find overland travel from Iran or Turkmenistan more exciting. As always in this region, get plenty of local security advice before you go and make sure your visas are in order.