Arts, Culture & Media

Fears for Heart's architectural wonders

Down the winding streets of Herat's old city, dozens of men are excavating this street. They're not just digging for evidence of the past, they're trying to get back to a time when the city worked better. It'll make the streets look prettier, but it also means standing water and sewage will no longer pollute the streets of Herat. This architect is trying to convince locals that the old, thick adobe walls are better than the new concrete which is how much buildings here are built. The craftsmen in Herat are happy to be practicing these older techniques, but the city is a battleground between old and new. Many exiles have come back from Iran and put up new buildings, sometimes right next to older, heritage sites. The governor of Herat says he recently got some encouragement that UNESCO could list the city as a world heritage site, but the governor's commitment to preservation has not always been apparent. The problem is that Herat's building boom is eating up the old city. In the crowded bizarre, opinions about restoring the old cistern is uniformly positive. One student hopes the city can find a way to keep both the old and new.

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