From its origins as an outpost of the Achaemenid Empire, the repeated strengthening of the Citadel of Qala Ikhtyaruddin, and the setting out of a walled settlement by the Ghaznavids, the city of Herat has had a turbulent history. Situated at the crossroads of regional trade, in the midst of rich irrigated agriculture, the area has been a prize for successive invaders. The city became a centre for Islamic culture and learning during the reign of Timur, whose successors commissioned several monumental buildings, but it then fell into decline under the Mughals. Considered part of Persia during the Safavid era in the eighteenth century, it was not until 1863 that Herat was incorporated into the emerging Afghan state.
The distinctive rectilinear layout of the city of Herat was delineated by massive earth walls that protected the bazaars and residential quarters that lay within. This was the extent of the city until the middle of the twentieth century, when administrative buildings were constructed outside of the walls to the northeast.
While the Alam Qandahari house is said to have been built in around 1865, its present form seems to date from the mid-20th century. Access to the house is via a vaulted passage or dalan, with doors to each of the two dwellings that make up the complex. To the east are the family quarters, arranged in the manner of traditional Herati homes of this period; a double-storey range of rooms faces north, for use in the summer, and a south-facing range on a single storey with an arcaded veranda, for use in the winter months. The north-facing elevation of this house is unusual in having extensive glazed tile work, more in the manner of a religious building. All rooms in the dwelling face on to a large courtyard, which is brick paved and has a central pool. The adjoining dwelling, which was used for guests, is more modest in scale and decoration. The house was restored by AKTC during 2007- 2009.