Mazar-e Sharif

Nowruz (Persian New Year) celebration in the centre of Mazar-i-Sharif, where the Shrine of Hazrat Ali (inside the Blue Mosque) is located.

Mazar-e Sharif (مزار شریف), officially called Mazari Sharif and also Mazar-i-Sharif, Mazar-e Sharif, even Mazar Sharif or just Mazar is a city in Afghanistan and the capital of Balkh Province.


With a population of more than 375,000, Mazar-e Sharif is the 4th largest city in Afghanistan. It was founded in the 12th century after a local mullah dreamt of the secret site where Ali bin Talib, the Prophet's cousin and the fourth caliph of Islam, had been buried (outside of Afghanistan most Muslims believe that Ali is buried in Najaf, Iraq). A shrine, which was later rebuilt as the Blue Mosque, was constructed on the site and the city of Mazar grew around it.

Historically this region was known as Bactria, its capital was Balkh and Mazar was a smaller town nearby. However Balkh was abandoned due to disease in the mid 19th century and Mazar assumed the role of capital of the region - a position it has maintained ever since.

Get in

By road

By air

  Mazar-e Sharif International Airport (IATA: MZR) is located 9 km east of the city, a journey of 15 minutes by taxi.

The Ariana flights between Kabul and Mazar have been suspended due to low demand.

Get around


The Shrine of Hazrat Ali.

In the way of sights Mazar has little to offer the visitor other than the Blue Mosque - although some of the modern monuments built atop traffic circles are worth a photo. Mazar is surrounded by beautiful Mountains on two sides and is home to some Ancient Greek relics.








Local hotels offer multi-bed rooms from 10-20 USD with a shared bathroom and toilet. Cheaper rooms have the worst toilet facilities.



Go next

By plane

By car

Shared taxis head to the Uzbekistan border - taking 30 minutes on a good tarred road through the desert. To drive your own vehicle will require completing some paperwork with the Uzbek embassy in Kabul.



Stay safe

German consulate general, opened on a site deemed unsafe for US diplomats (2014)

Go next

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.