The town of Balkh is one of Afghanistan's oldest. Zoroaster, founder of the world's oldest monotheistic religion, was born here in the 6th century BC, Alexander the Great camped here, and the Arabs dubbed it 'the Mother of Cities'. Despite a Timurid flowering, Balkh never recovered from its sacking by Chinggis Khan, and today it is little more than a large village. The main road from Mazar-e Sharif turns right into Balkh through the old city walls, which stretch for 10km around the town.
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