Famous Landmarks of Afghanistan

Planning to travel to Afghanistan and experience its cultural treasures and historic wonders? These are the landmarks of Afghanistan you need to add to your list.

Afghanistan is a land of rugged beauty and rich history. From the snow-capped mountains of the Hindu Kush to the wild steppes of the north, the country boasts a stunning array of landscapes. And beneath its beautiful surface lies a wealth of cultural treasures, including ancient archaeological sites and traditional crafts. 

landmarks of afghanistan

Although Afghanistan has been through some turbulent times recently, it’s home to many famous landmarks in Afghanistan, from historical places in Kabul to monuments and other notable locations. Here’s a list of these popular destinations for those looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination that promises adventure, culture, and natural beauty.

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Landmarks Of Afghanistan You Should Visit

Buddhas of Bamiyan

The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two 6th-century statues of standing Buddhas in the Bamiyan Valley in central Afghanistan.

The smaller “Eastern Buddha” (38 m or 125 ft) was erected around 570 AD, and the larger “Western Buddha” (55 m or 180 ft) was constructed in 618 AD. These statues, carved into a mountainside, were once among the tallest in the world before their destruction by the Taliban in 2001. 

landmarks of afghanistan

Though the statues no longer exist, they remain an important cultural symbol for the people of Afghanistan. And every year, pilgrims journey from all over to pay homage to the memory of these towering figures.

Minaret of Jam

Minaret of Jam: Image by David Adamec

The Minaret of Jam is among western Afghanistan’s most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The minaret, built in the 12th century and standing at an impressive 65 m (213 ft), is an iconic symbol of Afghan architecture. Its slender design and intricate brick, stucco, and glazed tile decoration make it one of the world’s most beautiful examples of Islamic architecture. 

The area surrounding the Minaret is also home to several other historical sites, including ruins, fortifications, and a cemetery.

Blue Mosque

landmarks of afghanistan
Blue Mosque: Image by Kimberley Lamb

Hazrat Ali Mazar, also called the Blue Mosque, is a 12th-century mosque located in the city of Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan. It is widely believed to be one of the reputed tombs of the first Shia Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, renowned cousin and son-in-law to the prophet Muhammad. 

The mosque is famous for its decorative blue tiles, which give it its nickname, and the feeling of serenity and peace that pervades the site. The Blue Mosque is one of the holiest sites to Sunni Muslims, who pay tribute to Ali’s shrine yearly.

Paghman Gardens

landmarks of afghanistan
Arc de Triomphe in Paghman Gardens: Image by Ahmed-Najib-Biabani-Ibrahimkhel

Paghman is a city located in the central Afghan province of Kabul and home to several culturally and historically significant landmarks, as well as many parks and gardens. The royal gardens were redesigned in 1928 by Amanullah Khan, the then-king of Afghanistan, and Paghman became a holiday retreat from the city and the summer capital. 

The gardens are famous for their beautiful landscaping and architecture, thanks to the thousands of fir, poplar, and nut trees lining the avenues.

Kabul Museum

landmarks of afghanistan
Kabul Museum: Image by Ninara

The Kabul Museum is the national museum of Afghanistan, located in the capital of Kabul. The museum, which opened its doors in 1919, houses a collection of artifacts from Afghan cultures throughout history, including sculptures, coins, ceramics, and jewelry. 

The museum’s largest display, the Bagram Collection, contains an impressive collection of 1,800 pieces from India, Rome, Greece, Egypt, and Central Asia. The Kabul Museum is an important center for studying Afghan history and culture and a must-see for anyone interested in the region’s past.

Herat Citadel

Herat Citadel: Image By David Kelly

The Herat Citadel, commonly referred to as the Citadel of Alexander, is a medieval fortress in Herat, Afghanistan. The citadel, built in the 5th century, is believed to have been erected by Alexander the Great during his campaign in the region. During the last 2,000 years, many empires used the fortress as headquarters. 

Today’s present structure was primarily built by Shah Rukh in 1415 after both Ghengis Khan and Timur destroyed the former structure. The citadel, a popular tourist destination, is famous for its beautiful Islamic architecture, stunning views of the city, and rich military history spanning centuries.

Gardens of Babur

landmarks of afghanistan
Babur Gardens: Image by Jim Kelly

The Gardens of Babur are one of Afghanistan’s most beautiful and serene places. Located in Kabul, the gardens were built in the early 16th century by the great Mughal emperor Babur. Surrounded by high walls, the park is a peaceful oasis filled with flowers, fruit trees, and sloping terraces. 

The grand centerpiece of the garden is an idyllic central pool, which reflects the surrounding greenery and provides a cooling respite from the Afghan heat. In addition to its natural beauty, the Gardens of Babur are also rich in history and culture. Today, it remains an important cultural site and is often used for exhibitions and music recitals.

Darul Aman Palace

landmarks of afghanistan
Darul Aman Palace: Image courtesy Arab News

The Darul Aman Palace is a national symbol of Afghanistan, located just outside the capital city of Kabul. The palace is bordered by several government buildings, including the National Assembly Building, the American University of Afghanistan, and the National Museum of Afghanistan.

The palace was initially built in the 1920s as a residence for the Afghan royal family. However, it was later abandoned and became a site of fighting during the civil war in the 1990s. 

In recent years, the palace has undergone a significant restoration project and is now open to the public. Visitors to the palace can explore the sprawling gardens, marble halls, and 150 lavishly-decorated rooms.

Shah-e Doh Shamshira Mosque

landmarks of afghanistan

The Shah-e Doh Shamshira Mosque is one of Afghanistan’s most beautiful and unusual buildings. It is located along the Kabul river and was built in 1960 during King Amanullah’s push for modernization. 

The mosque is recognized for its striking turquoise blue dome and two minarets, each decorated with beautiful tiles. The architecture of the Shah-e Doh Shamshira Mosque is a blend of traditional Afghan and Italian influences, making it a unique and fascinating building.

Khwaja Abd Allah Shrine

landmarks of afghanistan

The Khwaja Abd Allah Ansari Shrine is located in the village of Gazur Gah, northeast of Kabul. The shrine is a well-known pilgrimage site and is said to contain the tomb of Khwaja Abdullah Ansari, a local saint who lived in the 11th century. Thousands of pilgrims come to the shrine every year to pay homage to Ansari and receive his blessing. 

The shrine is a beautiful sight, with its lapis lazuli mosaics and elaborate architecture. Visitors to the shrine often leave offerings of flowers and food. The Khwaja Abd Allah Shrine is an important spiritual center for the people of Herat that provides a space for spiritual growth and contemplation.

Ziarat-e Sakhi

landmarks of afghanistan

The Ziarat-e Sakhi is a shrine and mosque located in the Karte Sakhi area of Kabul. Many Afghans associate this shrine with where the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s cloak was kept while journeying to its present location in Kandahar.

The Ziarat-e Sakhi Shrine is beautiful and serene, decorated in the Persian style’s glazed tiles. The building contains many inscriptions of verses from the Quran, prayers, and poetry.  It is a much-admired place of pilgrimage for the Hazaras, an ethnic group among the Shiʿi community, who come to the shrine to pay their respects.

Sadly, this shrine was the site of multiple terrorist attacks stemming from the country’s civil unrest, which killed many innocent people. However, the shrine has been rebuilt and continues to be a place of worship and contemplation for Afghans.

Gawhar Shad Madrasa and Mausoleum

landmarks of afghanistan

The Gawhar Shad Madrasa and Mausoleum is a historical site located in Afghanistan. The madrasa was built in the 15th century, and the mausoleum was added later.

The complex is named after Queen Gawhar Shad, the chief consort of Shah Rukh, the emperor of the Timurid Empire. The madrasa was used as a place of learning, and the mausoleum remains the final resting place for the royal family. 

Although much of the site lies destroyed, it still possesses some of its intricate architecture and beautiful gardens. Visitors to the complex can explore the madrasa,  the mausoleum, and the surrounding gardens.


landmarks of afghanistan

Also known as the Red City, Shahr-e-Zahak is an ancient city in Bamyan that was initially used to defend the surrounding area from invaders. This looming fortress was once home to 3,000 people before its destruction in the 13th century by Ghengis Khan. All that remains of the city are its red-hued ruins, which offer breath-taking views of the landscape. 

Despite its current state, Shahr-e-Zahak has become a popular tourist destination due to its unique history and stunning location. Though the city is now in ruins, visitors can explore the ancient buildings and streets. Overall, Shahr-e-Zahak is still a beautiful and fascinating historic site that offers a glimpse into Afghanistan’s often tumultuous past. 

Conclusion – Landmarks Of Afghanistan

Afghanistan is an ancient and beautiful country with a rich history. The country is home to many famous landmarks, reflecting the Afghan people’s diverse culture and heritage.

From the stunning Shah-e Doh Shamshira Mosque to the imposing Gawhar Shad Madrasa and Mausoleum, there are many landmarks of Afghanistan to explore.

These historical sites offer a glimpse into the country’s past and provide visitors with an opportunity to learn about the Afghan culture. We hope that Afghanistan will one day be a country of peace and stability so that these one-of-a-kind landmarks can once again be enjoyed by people from all over the world.

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