The 10 best places to visit in Afghanistan

 

In the north of the country, directly north of the Afghan capital, Kabul, is the ancient Buddhist site of Takht E-Rostam, a rock carved stupa topped by a stone carved building. Highly unusual in it's design, the structure was carved into the ground in a style that resembles the monolithic stone carved churches of Ethiopia. Today, with many Buddhist sites in the country destroyed by the Taliban, these ruins represent one of the last remaining sites of pre-Islamic Afghanistan.

10. Takht E-Rostam

 

Completed in 1491 AD, just south of the Uzbek border in the town of Mazar-I-Sharif is the enormous Blue Mosque, also known as the Shrine Of Ali. Though supposed to hold the remains of Ali, the cousin of the Prophet Muhammed, most Muslims now believe those remains are in the Iman Ali Mosque in Iraq. Despite this, the Shrine Of Ali is still an incredible structure with significant historical importance.

9. Shrine Of Ali

 

In the west of the country, close to the border with Iran is the historic Citadel Of Herat, dating back to 330 BC when the armies of Alexander The Great arrived in the region, it sometimes holds the title of 'Citadel Of Alexander'. Having been destroyed and rebuilt over the centuries this great fortification then survived potential demolition in the 1950's, instead undergoing serious restoration works. Having suffered more serious damage in the recent wars, today the citadel operates as the National Museum Of Herat.

8. Herat Citadel

 

In the centre of the country, west of the capital, Kabul, is the mountainous province of Bamyan, considered one of the safest regions in Afghanistan. Part of the ancient Silk Road route, the valley holds several historical sites, the most famous of which is the now destroyed Buddhas Of Bamiyan, two 4th and 5th century monumental Buddha statues carved into the cliff face, blown up by the Taliban as recently as 2001. Despite this, the Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains Of The Bamiyan Valley have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

7. Bamyan Valley

 

To the north east of the capital, Kabul, skirting the Hindu Kush mountain range is the beautiful natural landscape of the Panjshir Valley, meaning the 'Valley Of The Five Lions'. Having been the location of the countries recent wars, this wonderful landscape of mountains, rivers and green lush valleys is still under Taliban control and not without it's dangers.

6. Panjshir Valley

 

In the western centre of the country, in the remote and almost inaccessible region of the Shahrak District is the 62 metre (203 ft) Minaret Of Jam, the tallest brick minaret in the world. Built around the year 1190 AD, the structure is famous for it's intricate brickwork, glazed tile decorations and for being the first declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in the country. Due to the lack of preservation the minaret has been deemed by UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site in danger, expected to collapse in the near future.

5. Minaret Of Jam

 

Completed in 1446 AD in the west of the country, close to the border with Iran in the city of Herat, is the Great Mosque Of Herat, known as the Jama Masjid. This huge and beautiful ancient building complex is adorned with 15th century tiles, in what is one of the largest and most exceptional man made structures in the country.

4. The Jama Masjid Of Herat

 

In the centre of the country, east of the Afghan capital, Kabul, situated at an elevation of 3,000 metres (9,842 ft) above sea level in the Hindu Kush mountain range is the Band E-Amir National Park. The park encompasses six mineral rich deep blue lakes separated by natural dams in a stunning natural beauty spot of arid and rocky mountains. Such is the magnificence of the landscape, it has been described as the Grand Canyon of Afghanistan.

3. Band E-Amir National Park

 

The Hindu Kush Mountains are an 800 kilometre (500 mile) long mountain range that stretches from central Afghanistan to northern Pakistan. This vast area holds a landscape of high snow capped mountains and deep valleys, making it one of the most naturally rugged and beautiful terrains in the country. It's highest point is the Tirich Mir Mountain, standing a whopping 7,708 metres (25,289 ft) above sea level.

 

Cutting through this deadly avalanche prone mountain range at an elevation of 3,878 metres (12,723 ft) above sea level is the Salang Pass, one of the most important and spectacular roadways in the region.

2. Salang Pass & Hindu Kush Mountains

 

Separating Tajikistan from Pakistan, between the Pamir Mountains and the Karakoran mountain range is a strip of untouched land known as the Wakhan Corridor, a 350 kilometre (220 mile) long region of high snow capped mountains and deep rocky valleys. Being one of the most difficult locations to get to in the country, few tourists venture the Wakhan Corridor, making it one of the most seldom seen landscapes in the world.

1. Wakhan Corridor

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