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The 12th century minaret of Djam is one of Afghanistan's most celebrated treasures, a magnificent symbol of the powerful Ghorid Empire that once stretched from Iran to India. The second tallest brick minaret in the world, Djam lies in the heart of central Afghanistan's wild Ghor Province. Surrounded by 2,000 metre-high mountains and by the remains of what many believe to have been the lost city of Turquoise Mountain - one of the greatest cities of the Middle Ages - Djam is, even today, one of the most inaccessible and remote places in Afghanistan. When Freya Stark travelled there, few people in the world had ever laid eyes on it or managed to reach the desolate valley in which it lies. Her journey from Kabul to Kandahar and Herat was difficult and often dangerous but her account shines with humour and is adorned with beautiful descriptions of the land she journeyed through and the people she encountered. A celebrated portrait of Afghanistan and its history, The Minaret of Djam is a poignant reminder that this was once far more than just a country ravaged by war and the political games of the world's superpowers.
Freya Stark (1893-1993), 'the poet of travel', was the doyenne of Middle East travel writers and one of the most courageous and adventurous female travellers in history. She travelled extensively through Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Southern Arabia, where she became the first western woman to travel through the Hadhramaut. Usually solo, she ventured to places few Europeans had ever been. Her travels earned her the title of Dame and huge public acclaim and her many, now classic, books include Travels in the Near East, A Winter in Arabia, The Southern Gates of Arabia, Alexander's Path, Dust in the Lion's Paw, East is West and Valleys of the Assassins. 'She has written the best travel books of her generation and her name will survive as an artist in prose.' - The Observer