Historically Balkh is believed to be a centre of the ancient Bactrian Empire, before the arrival of Alexander the Great in 327BC. Balkh was destroyed many times over by the likes of Ghengis Khan and Timur-i-lang, Babar and other in the history
Get in to Balkh
Balkh is easily reachable from Mazar-e Sharif by shared taxi for about 20 afghani. Watch out for the passengers sitting in the open boot of some cars. The road passes through a fort with destroyed tanks and APCs; the fort was probably a road block during the Warlord and Taliban period. The landscape before and around the town is fields. South of the town at the turnoff is a large mound that was probably a watchtower.
Get around in the town
The town is completely enclosed by its ancient fortifications; brick and mud walls at least 30 feet high and in good condition. They can be climbed giving views of the countryside and the town. At the north end is another larger mound that was the fortress. The walls slope on the outside and are vertical on the inside, giving and impression from the inside of being very tall. Turrets along the walls are in varying states of decay providing glimpses of building techniques.
The town has a central park, where children play soccer or volleyball. At one end are the ruins of a tiled mosque, the other the gate of a madrassa. Again the construction technique of the madrassa can bee seen. As the park is full of trees and small shops surround the part it is difficult to take photos of the madrassa. Full shots of the mosque are easy.
Shrine of Khoja Abu Nasar Parsa – also known as Bala Hasar, dominating the park in the center of the town sits this 15th century shrine, built in the Timurid style.
Dargah of Rabia Balkhi – adjacent to the Parsa shrine is this small tomb of the famous female Persian poet. She was sealed in a basement by her brother after having an affair, and wrote her most famous poem in her own blood on the wall as she died.
Noh Gonbad (Haji piyada) mosque; is well worth a visit. Its history is unclear but it is certainly one of Afghanistan's most important historical buildings. Possibly dating from Zoroastrian times the remains are now under a protective roof, and are worth the bumpy 2km drive from the main Balkh - Mazar road. Head south from the centre of Balkh, cross the main east-west road and keep going. After 500 metres you'll see a sign (in English) telling you to turn right.
More cities in Cities in Afghanistan
Kabul- The eastern city serves as the largest city and the capital city of
Balkh - The ancient city in the northern part of Afghanistan
Bamiyan - The place where the famous Bamiyan Budha in rock was and was destroyed.
Ghazni - The south-east, the city between Kabul and Kandahar
Herat - The western city neighbouring Iran, has a strong Persian influence and several interesting historical sites
Jalalabad - The eastern city close to Pakistan located between Kabul and the Khyber Pass Pakistan
Qandhar- Oldest continuously inhabited city in the world , ancient name is mundigak (3000 B.C)
Kunduz - A major city in the northeast, and crossing point to Tajikistan
Mazar-e Sharif - home to the impressively tiled Blue Mosque, and the staging point for trips into Uzbekistan
Puli Khumri - an ancient city in the heart of Afghanistan