In the 1970s, tourists traveled to western Afghanistan to climb on the ruins of an ancient citadel, a fortress resembling a sandcastle that has stood overlooking the city of Herat for thousands of years.
The citadel was crumbling then, but today the newly restored structure, dating back to the days of Alexander the Great, is a hopeful sign of progress in a country beset by war.
Hundreds of Afghan craftsmen worked to restore the ruins’ past glory with help from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and about $2.4 million from the U.S. and German governments.
The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, was among the tourists drawn to Herat decades ago, and on Sunday he celebrated the citadel’s restoration and the opening of a new museum of Afghan artifacts at the site. “Until 35 years ago, tourists from around the world came here to experience heritage, history and incomparable national landscapes,” Crocker said.
“We look forward to the day when Afghans and visitors from around the world will once again come here to learn about Afghanistan’s rich history and enjoy the great hospitality and beauty that this land and its people have to offer,” he said.
Tourism seems far-fetched in Afghanistan, where tens of thousands of foreign troops are in their 10th year of fighting Taliban insurgents. |…|
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