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in Herat, Afghanistan

Herat Attractions and Things to See

Herat is the capital of the Herat province in Afghanistan, and the third biggest city, sitting in the valley of the Hari River, that flows down from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan, and connected with the major cities of the country with a circular highway that spans the nation. It is located in a fertile region, and is about 2700 years old, becoming well known for its outstanding wines, with numerous historical structures, but they have been suffering some damage because of the war that ranges on, and the other military conflicts that have racked this country for decades. In the late Middle Ages, it would become one of the main cities of Khorasan, an ancient region that includes the city, country and other nations. It would become known as the Pearl of Khorasan, since it lies on the ancient trade routes of the Middle East, Central and South Asia, with its highways to Iran, Turkmenistan and other areas of the country are strategically significant, even today, since it is the gateway to Iran, getting the biggest amount of customs revenue for the country.
The city dates back to the ancient times, although no one knows how old it is, but it was known during the Achaemenid Empire period from about 550 to 330 BC, with the encompassing region called Havaiva in Old Persian, while in the classical sources it would be known as Aria. It would be conquered by numerous nations and leaders, like Alexander the Great, the Arab invasion, the Ghaznavids, numerous local dynasties, Safavid, then the Hotaki dynasty in the 18th century, the British army and then the Russians, and now the new central government, led by Hamid Karzai; although Iran is investing in the city's development of power, education and economy. That has brought electricity 24/7, paved roads and a much higher sense of security than that of the rest of the country. The US is constructing a consulate in the city, so that it ties could be strengthened with Afghanistan.
The city's airport was rebuilt after the bombing destroyed it in Operation Enduring Freedom and is planned to become an international airport very soon. In 2007, the country and Iran finalized a rail service to begin between the two nations, that will be 119 miles of track between Khaf, Iran to Herat. The city has three parks and many places of interest, as well as monuments, like the Citadel of Alexander, Herat Old Fort and the Mosallah Complex, with a few mosques and historical structures still standing and of great interest. The city has two museums, the Herat National Museum and the Jihad Museum, the Mausoleum of Queen Goharshad, the Tomb of Jami, the Mausoleum of Mirwais Sadiq, the Tomb of Khaje Qaltan and the Mausoleum of Khwajah Abdullah Ansari. As mentioned, the city has a number of mosques still standing, with three hotels and Herat University.
The local art has come from many centuries, with one of the most famous types being the Gandhara art that was created between the 1st and 7th century and based on Greco-Buddhist art, but since the 1900s, it has started to use the western techniques of art and had been created mostly by men, until recently when women began entering the arts programs at Kabul University. Music and poetry are other forms of art in the country, with the local citizens creating fabulous carpets and oriental rugs, with certain prints that are unique to the country.
The local cuisine is based on the cereals of barley, rice, wheat and maize or corn that have become the country's main crops, although it is well known for its grapes. Some of the more popular Afghan dishes include; palao that is a traditional rice dish, mosh palao, shorba or the Afghan soup, mantu which is meat dumplings, kofta is meatballs, baunjan is cooked eggplant with potatoes and tomatoes, bendee/baumya is cooked okra with potatoes and tomatoes, heeknusb or hummus, aush is hand made noodles, bolani is Afghan flat bread or crepe, shor-nakhod is chick peas with special toppings and naan or Afghan bread.