Restoration of Alexander’s Castle in Afghanistan
One of the oldest extant structures in the historic center of Herat in Afghanistan is Qal’a-i Ikhtiyar al-Din. The current structure (known as Alexander’s Castle) was built on the site of an ancient citadel that some historians claim was established by Macedonian warrior-king Alexander the Great around 330 B.C. The battlements and towers that still stand are believed to date from the 14th or 15th century when it was reconstructed after being destroyed by Mongol invaders. Some of the blue tile work from that period can still be seen on some towers.
UNESCO did extensive renovation at the site in the 1970s. The Culture Ministry took over stewardship at the site in 2005 and has worked since 2008 with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the U.S. and German governments to restore the structure and set up a museum at the site. U.S. support for the citadel restoration came from the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation and is the fund’s largest project in the world.
Mohammad Rafiq, a mason from Herat who worked on the project, said he took pride in the work because he sees it as part of the country’s broader reconstruction. “It was not only about making money. It was good work to do,” he said. “This is the biggest monument in the region. We tried our best to do the reconstruction so that it recopied the old styles of the building.”
Housed at the citadel is the National Museum of Herat, one of four provincial museums in Afghanistan to reopen to the public. The Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin worked with the German Archaeological Institute to document and restore artifacts and prepare them for display.
See a panoramic view of the citadel here (click on the photo):Alexander the Great, Macedonian Culture, Macedonian News