Herat

A view of Herat from the city's center.
WARNING: Travel to Afghanistan, including Herat, is extremely dangerous Although it is considered the safest province in Afghanistan, Taliban bombings and attacks are not uncommon at all. If you must go, see war zone safety.

Herat (Persian: هرات) is a big, relatively wealthy city in western Afghanistan.

Understand

Herat is the second largest city in Afghanistan, located in the north western part of Afghanistan. It is famous as Nagin Aseeya or Diamond of Asia in some literature. The city has a history of more than 3000 years. History of this city is very eventful. It was destroyed and rebuilt many times.

After the fall of the communist government in Afghanistan in the early 1990s, the city changed it face due to the many development works under Ismail Khan (or Amir Ismail Khan), a local Jihadi commander who ruled Herat until the Taliban takeover. After the fall of Taliban and the establishment of the Karzai Government, Ismail Khan became the governor of this province and built on his earlier works.

The people are very friendly and hospitable to foreigners and are also more religious than people in Kabul. Many of the young understand English or other foreign languages. It is relatively safer than other provinces of Afghanistan.

Get in

Herat International Airport

The Herat International Airport is situated 15 km south of the city just east of the road towards Farah. Daily flights from Kabul are available from Kam Air, Ariana for 3500 Afg, and Pamir Airways, for 4000 Afg. Both UNAMA and UNHAS operate flights between Kabul and Herat, occasionally via Bamiyan, available to staff of partner NGOs.

A bus service is available from Mashhad in Iran, buses are supposed to leave a 7 AM from the bus terminal but departure times are flexible, be there early. Arrival at the border is around noon and in Herat a bit after 3 PM. Border procedures are relatively straightforward.

Overland travel by car can be both time-consuming and dangerous. The road from Kandahar has been rebuilt but is extremely dangerous as it passes through Helmand and Farah, both which are active war zones. The roads from Iran and Turkmenistan are both in good shape, the later one being tarred. However, expect a few craters here and there. There are occasional security incidents on the road from Turkmenistan as trouble spills over from unstable Badghis province. Get up-to-date advice before attempting this route. The A76 highway connects to Mazar-e Sharif via Maimana. Upgrading of the road is not yet completed, largely due to the kidnapping of the construction team in April 2009. This route is not recommended. The central route to Kabul via Chagcheran and the Minaret of Jam is a very rough 3-6 day journey, sleeping in chaikanas along the way. Several travelers have recently done this route and reported no safety issues. However, from Bamiyan it is currently advisable to take the longer northern route to Kabul, as the southern route is of questionable safety.

See

The Museuam inside the Herat Citadel
The Friday Mosque
Musalla Complex in 2009

Ghala Ekhteyaradin, Takht Safar, Bagh Milat, Bagh Shaidayee, Masjid Jami, Howz Charso, Minarets, Poli Malan (Malan Bridge), Gowhar Shad Tomb, Gazer Gah Sharif, Sang Haft Ghalam, Dig Masjid Jami and tens of other nice and beautiful places exist in Herat and really worth to visit. Some of these historical places will be nominated as world heritage by UNESCO soon.

Do

Buy

Money

Eat

Herat has a mixture of traditional and modern foods. While in Herat do not forget to try Kichiri Goshti and Chainaki. Also Halwa Sohan Herat, Shipira Zafarani and Dashlama Herati are best sweets.

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Guesthouses are recommended for longer stays

Stay safe

Herat is one of the safer cities in Afghanistan. However, there are sometimes small explosions attributed to political parties which are trying to make a point or create the impression that the city is not safe. Shootings are also common during personal disputes. Gun battles between the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police are not unusual.

Respect

Be quiet, respectful and dress appropriately when visiting mosques and shrines. These are holy places of worship and should not be treated as tourist attractions. Be discreet with your camera.

Connect

Consulate service

Go next

Chisht-i-Sharif is some 177 km from Herat city. As you approach it across a plateau, you can see the two famous domes of Chisht. The town with its meandering bazaar street sits in the ravine between these plateaus. Winding down and up, you will find an avenue of pine trees leading directly to two ruined buildings now standing in the middle of an extensive graveyard. Experts argue as to the purpose of these buildings. Some speak of them as mausoleums. Others see them as parts of a grand complex of buildings. The mutilated molded terra cotta brick decoration can only speak softly their former magnificence.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, February 17, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.