Once comparable to Babylon in splendour and size, the remains of the ancient city of Balkh still offer glimpses of a magnificent Afghani history.

Built alongside a tributary of the Amu Darya River, the twice ruined city of Balkh has played a continuous role in the changing landscape of Afghanistan.

Alexander the Great conquered the then Persian capital of Bactria in 328BC and used it as his headquarters for two years while founding his own Greek colony.

Since then the city has been destroyed by Gengis Khan, rebuilt by Tamerlane, ruled by Uzbeks, Mughals and Arabs and claimed birthplace to the Sufi poet Rumi and the prophet Zoroaster, founder of the religion Zoroastrianism.

Remains of the Madjide Haji Pivada, one of the world's oldest mosques, and the impressive blue tiled Khaja Mohammed Parsa mosque can still be found here, as can the famous Arch Of Nawbahar and the remnants of a Buddist stupa.