Up on every visitor’s arrival into the city of Herat, before everything his/her attention is directly focused to high towers which their architecture and construction is different from other high rise constructions, including their heights, construction inaterials and unique peculiarities that have distinguished them from other 20th century’s constructions and buildings.
Herat minarets are the memory of peak of brilliance of Timorids’ art that have remained till today as gem of Herat. As the gem of Khorasan, Herat province had passed over its most brilliant historical stage of development in 9th and early 10th contury from the point of view of art, literature, sciences, handicrafts and architecture. These minarets had been built in late 15th century under the supervision of Queen Gawharshad Begum, which has been called during their history as one of the historical prides.
Narrator of History:
The TimoridsEmpire in Herat had focused particular attention to errection and construction of historical monuments including mosques, Khaneqas, libraries and other religious places. Queen Goharshad Begum the wife of Timorid king ShahrokhMirza started project of Herat minarets construction in 820 H.Q for the first time. This project included a madrassa, big mosque big mosque of Amir Ali SherNawayee etc. Tombs of Sultan Hussein Bayeqra, Amir Ali SherNawayee and Gowharshad Begum have survived today. The others have disappeared. During this empire, Herat welcomed plenty of tourists. Following the demise of Temor, rule of Sultan HusseinBayeqra and his prominent minister Amir Ali SherNawayee, due to support of these rulers from art, Herat had become the center of artists and handicraftsmen. Long before, whenever different carawans had come to Herat, they were guided by these minarets towards the city and these minarets reflected the power, influence and reputation of Temorid rulers to every new commers.
According to Wali Shah Bahra researcher of Herat historical relics, in the wake of demise of Sultan Hussein Bayeqra, as a result of clashes and disagreement of his saplings, attacks of Sheybanids and Safawaids, in 912 HQ, the city of Herat and these monuments were strongly damaged and in 1304 HQ this artistic complex was razed to the ground due to provocations of Britisher and only 10 high decorated minaret with Tomb of Gowhar Shad survived. Gradually due to various factors, five other minarets had also collapsed and five survived. The initial height of these minarets was 34m that their upper tops destroyed and at present their height is 30-32m.
On the verge of collapse:
Herat cultural authorities have expressed serious concern on possible overthrowing of these minarets in case of carelessness.
According to Herat relevant cultural authorities US$ 10m is required for rebuilding and repairing of 800 works and historical sites. Talking at a press conference, the head of Herat provincial department of information and culture Aria Raoofeyan said, at the moment, these minarets are at a very critical condition with high possibilities of collapse.
Few years ago, UNESCO had expressed readiness for registration of Herat historical works in the last of the world cultural heritages and had asked relevant authorities to prevent illegal constructions in that area and close a road passing through these minarets.
In 1388 a number of Herati cultural professionals had written a letter to ex-president Hamid Karzai and asked him to prevent destruction of these historical relics. As a result in the same year, the council of ministers approved closure of that road. Fortunately Herat has so far not been registered in the list of the world cultural heritages. In 2006, the UNESCO had held a seminar in Herat city and drafted basic criterions for registration of this city to the list of the world cultural heritages. In 2007 UNESCO meeting in Paris, efforts for registration of this city failed.
The Kabul Times