The Jewel of Khurasan: home to Behzad's tradition of miniature painting (which inspired Persian and Mughal art); one of the three great centers of Persian calligraphy; home to philosophers like Fakhr al-din Razi, Abdullah Ansari, and Waiz Kashifi. Just several miles outside the city is Chisht-e Sharif, fountainhead of the great Chishti Sufi order, which permeated the length and breadth of South Asia.
Herat reached its heights during the late Timurid period (15-16th centuries), when Sultan Husayn Bayqara, and his legendary minister Ali Sher Navoi transformed the city into one of the world's great cultural capitals. (Incidentally, Navoi was also one of the progenitors of Turkish high literature.) Although a shadow of its former self, the city still captivates travelers. Highlights include the four remaining minars of the grand mosque built by Shahrukh Mirza in the 15th century (which was dynamited by bitter British forces upon their retreat after the 2nd Anglo-Afghan War – arguably setting a precedent for the Taliban vis-à-vis the Buddhas of Bamian); the tombs of Empress Gohar Shad and Ali Sher Navoi, and the Arg (citadel). Although described by Christie ca. 1810 as “very contemptible as a fortification”, the Arg, in its newly restored form is definitely worth a visit - and don't forget to purchase saffron in the bazaar on the way out.
Category:Travel and Places
Keywords:Afghanistan, Asia, Central, Herat, Iran
© Mehreen Farooq & Waleed Ziad