Mousallah Complex in Herat – Afghanistan

The Mousallah Complex is a major tourist attraction in Afghanistan. There are several notable buildings in this complex and is worth a visit if you are in Herat.


The complex is in Herat, Afghanistan. If you are going to visit the site, do not be confused as it is called by many names. Among them are Musalla of Gawhar Shad Gauhar Shad, Mausoleum of Mir Ali Sher Navai and Hussein Baiqara.

What to See

This 15th century building is home to a couple of domed chambers and half a dozen minarets. The complex is large enough to be seen from far away. The Gawhar Shad mausoleum is notable for the ribbed cupola. It is located to the south of the canal that bisects the complex. There is a minaret at the eastern side.

The portal of Gawhar Shad’s madrasa used to flank it. A place of worship used to stand at the south of the mausoleum. This used to be a mosque, but today, only the minaret stump can be seen at the Mousallah Complex. But it is still quite impressive.


The complex was built by Qavam al-Din Shirazi for Gawhar Shad. The date of the construction has been placed at around 1417-1438. The stone foundations were set down in 1417 just on the outskirts of Herat. It was then declared the Timurid Empire capital.

It was expanded in a northward direction. Archaeologists believe that the mosque was built in 1426 after the madrasa was established in 1417. The madrasa of Sultan Husain was probably built in 1493.

An artillery fire destroyed the minaret top in 1863. The ruins were further damaged in 1885 by Amir ‘Abd ar-Rahman (1880-1901). To keep the Russians from using it as a headquarters, everything was destroyed except the Mausoleum of Gawhar Shad and the minarets. A 1932 earthquake damaged one of the minarets however.


The taxi fares are supposed to be meter based but few of the drivers actually use it. Your best option is to negotiate the fare with the driver before you get in. The rule of thumb is about 1 USD for every 2 km.

Other Info

To the north of the Mausoleum of Gawhar Shad is the Mausoleum of Mir Ali Shir Navai (1441-1501). This is another favorite spot for visitors.

Other noteworthy attractions at the Mousallah Complex are the four minarets grouped together. These used to mark the madrasa corners.