Balkh Travel Guide

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Balkh is located in northern Afghanistan close to Mazar-i-sharif. It is claimed to be one of the world's oldest cities and the legendary birthplace of the prophet Zoroaster. Alexander the Great reputedly founded a Greek colony here. The city later attained great wealth and importance as Bactra, capital of the independent kingdom of Bactria. In the early centuries A.D., Balkh, a prominent center of Buddhism, was renowned for its Buddhist monasteries and stupas.

The Arabs came in the 8th century, and made it an important centre it became important in the world of Islam as the original home of the Barmakids. Under the Abbasid caliphate its fame as a center of learning earned Balkh the title "mother of cities. The city was sacked in 1221 by Jenghiz Khan and lay in ruins until Timur rebuilt it in the early 16th century.

In 1850, Balkh became part of the unified kingdom of Afghanistan. The old city is now mostly in ruins; the new city, some distance away, is an agricultural and commercial center, inhabited chiefly by Uzbeks. Excavations have uncovered objects of the early Muslim period.

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