Afghanistan is a landlocked country in Asia, rich in architectural heritage and natural beauty. The architecture in Afghanistan is greatly influenced by the diverse events in Afghan history. It shows influences ranging over time from Greek, Persian to Indian and European in recent centuries.A wide range of religious influences is reflected over the past decades, with evidence exhibiting early Buddhist and Islamic inspiration. 

Today, the skyline of Afghanistan displays both historical and contemporary buildings. The infrastructure development here was hindered due to unrest in the nation, during which some part of architectural heritage was destroyed and is being restored in recent times.

Some notable structures of historical significance here are:

1. Herat Citadel 

Herat Citadel also called Qala Ikhtyaruddin was built back in 330 B.C. during the reign of Alexander the Great. Many empires have used it as a headquarters and was destroyed and rebuilt many times over the centuries. The citadel complex extends approximately 250 meters in length and is 70 meters wide. The structure is divided into two main walled enclosures. The older compound of the citadel has a roughly rectangular plan and is protected with thirteen semi-circular towers. This citadel is built of fired bricks. The citadel of Herat was completely renovated between the years 2006 and 2011.

Herat Citadel  - Sheet4
Herat Citadel ©archnet.org
Herat Citadel  - Sheet1
Herat Citadel ©archnet.org
Herat Citadel  - Sheet2
Herat Citadel ©tripadviser.com
Herat Citadel  - Sheet3
Herat Citadel ©twitter

2. Minaret of Jam/Manar-i Ghiyas al-Din

The minar was built around 1190 in the Ghor province of Afghanistan. The minar is built entirely of baked bricks and is famous for its intricate brick, stucco, and glazed tile decoration. The height of the minar is 65m-216ft. It is believed that the minaret was built to commemorate the victory of the Ghurid dynasty over Prithviraj Chauhan. The circular minaret rests on an octagonal base. The tile decoration consists of Kufic and nakshi calligraphy, geometric patterns, and verses from the Quran.

Minaret of Jam/Manar-i Ghiyas al-Din - Sheet2
Minaret of Jam ©travelthehimalayas.com
Minaret of Jam/Manar-i Ghiyas al-Din - Sheet3
Minaret of Jam ©wikipedia
Minaret of Jam/Manar-i Ghiyas al-Din - Sheet1
Minaret of Jam ©wikipedia

3. Khwaja Abdulla Shrine

Shrine of Khwaja Abdulla is the funerary compound of the Sufi saint Khwaja Abdulla Ansari. Constructed in 1428 A.D, it is located in the village of Gazur Gah, at Herat, Afghanistan. The structure shows features of the Timurid architectural style. The facade consists of three entrances from the large polygonal bay, covered in intricate mosaic work. The iwan walls were kept rough, despite the grandeur of the ornamentation. The brickwork here is glazed turquoise and black in a ‘banai style’ and laid in a chevron pattern. The facade is lit by a window in each of four recesses on each side.

Khwaja Abdulla Shrine - sheet3
Khwaja Abdulla Shrine ©archnet.org
Khwaja Abdulla Shrine - sheet4
Khwaja Abdulla Shrine ©archnet.org
Khwaja Abdulla Shrine - sheet1
Khwaja Abdulla Shrine ©archnet.org
Khwaja Abdulla Shrine - sheet2
Khwaja Abdulla Shrine ©archnet.org

4. Friday Mosque/Great Mosque of Herat

The Great Mosque of Herat also known as the Jummah Mosque is located in the city of Herat. It was built in the 15th century by the Ghurids. The mosque is laid out in a conventional iwan pattern, with three walls and a central courtyard. The exterior and courtyard walls are decorated with pink bricks covered with plaster and blue tilework with vegetal and floral patterns.

Friday Mosque/Great Mosque of Herat - Sheet2
Friday Mosque ©flicker.com
Friday Mosque/Great Mosque of Herat - Sheet3
Friday Mosque ©flicker.com
Friday Mosque/Great Mosque of Herat - Sheet1
Friday Mosque ©tripadviser.com

5. Blue Mosque (Shrine of Hazrat Ali) /Rawza-i-Sharif

Blue Mosque also known as the Shrine of Hazrat Ali built in the 15th century is located in the northern Balkh province of Afghanistan. It is situated amidst the hustle-bustle of urban areas around. The mosque welcomes the visitors offering a feeling of serenity and cooing of doves. When we look at the mosque, the structure appears to be floating, a trick of Islamic architecture. Persian style tile work can be seen here. The exterior is made of blue hues of highly detailed and intricately placed polychrome mosaic tiles.

Blue Mosque (Shrine of Hazrat Ali) /Rawza-i-Sharif - Sheet3
Blue Mosque ©worldlist.travel
Blue Mosque (Shrine of Hazrat Ali) /Rawza-i-Sharif - Sheet3
Blue Mosque ©Pinterest
Blue Mosque (Shrine of Hazrat Ali) /Rawza-i-Sharif - Sheet1
Blue Mosque ©Embassy Of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

6. Bagh-e-Babur/Garden of Babur

The Bagh-e-Babur(Garden of Babur) is a historic park in the city of Kabul. The garden is 11.5 hectares large and arranged in 15 terraces along a central axis in the east-west direction. The garden was developed around 1528 and is the final resting place of the first Mughal emperor Babur. The complex comprises Shahjahani Mosque,a Garden pavilion and a Queen’s palace. In the year 1933, space was converted into public recreation space.

Bagh-e-Babur/Garden of Babur - Sheet1
DaNi(HR.R)
Bagh-e-Babur/Garden of Babur - Sheet2
Bagh-e-Babur ©wikipedia
Bagh-e-Babur/Garden of Babur - Sheet3
Bagh-e-Babur ©orientalarchitecture.com

7. Ahmad Shah Durrani Mausoleum

Ahmedshah Durrani was the founder of the Durrani dynasty. His tomb constructed in the 19th century is located in Kandhar, adjacent to the shrine of the cloak. The tomb is surrounded by many other tombs. The octagonal-shaped tomb is a symbol of ancient Islamic Afghan architecture. The dome is covered by sky-blue greenish color tiles having minars around. 

Ahmad Shah Durrani Mausoleum- Sheet2
Ahmed Shah Durrani Mausoleum ©twitter
Ahmad Shah Durrani Mausoleum- Sheet3
Ahmed Shah Durrani Mausoleum ©archnet.org
Ahmad Shah Durrani Mausoleum- Sheet1
Ahmed Shah Durrani Mausoleum ©pinterest

8. Taimur Shah Durrani Mausoleum

The mausoleum of Taimur Shah Durrani is one of the largest surviving monuments in central Kabul. The construction of the mosque began in the 19th century. The tomb is an octagonal structure. Above the crypt in which the grave stands is a square central space surrounded by octagonal structure, with four double-height iwans on the main elevations.

Taimur Shah Durrani Mausoleum - Sheet2
Taimur Shah Durrani Mausoleum ©akdn.org
Taimur Shah Durrani Mausoleum - Sheet3
Taimur Shah Durrani Mausoleum ©ttnotes.com
Taimur Shah Durrani Mausoleum - Sheet1
Taimur Shah Durrani Mausoleum ©ismailimail.com

9. Shah do shamshira (Mosque of the king of two swords)

This mosque is located in Kabul and was constructed in the 1920s during the reign of Amanullah Khan. The mosque is named after an Arab commander who fought a battle in the 7th century. Next to Shah do shamhira there lies his burial place. The mosque is a two-storied yellow building that has a unique design- Italian decorative stucco which creates an interesting effect often described as ‘Afghan baroque.’

Shah do shamshira (Mosque of the king of two swords) - Sheet2
Shah do shamshira ©flickr
Shah do shamshira (Mosque of the king of two swords) - Sheet3
Shah do shamshira ©flickr
Shah do shamshira (Mosque of the king of two swords) - Sheet1
Shah do shamshira ©flickr

10. Darul Aman Palace

Darul Aman Palace was constructed in the year 1927 in the city of Kabul. With the vision to modernize Afghanistan king Amanullah khan started construction of the palace in the 1920s.The palace is a U shaped building having 3 floors with 150 rooms. French architects A.Godard and M.Godard along with German architects were responsible for the design of the 33m(108 feet) height palace.

The German engineer Walter Harten and his team of engineers contributed to the construction. The palace exhibits a European neoclassical style of architecture. 

Darul Aman Palace - Sheet2
Darul Aman Palace ©PJ Photography
Darul Aman Palace - Sheet3
Darul Aman Palace ©deccanherald.com
Darul Aman Palace - Sheet1
Darul Aman Palace ©aljazeera.com

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_Afghanistan#:~:text=Mosques%20were%20generally%20based%20on,in%20the%209th%20century%20AD.

1.Blue Mosque (Shrine of Hazrat Ali) 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Mosque_(Mazar-i-Sharif)

https://archnet.org/sites/3939

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/blue-mosque-afghanistan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j1xir8mvxk&t=4s

  1. Khwaja Abdulla Shrine

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrine_of_Khwaja_Abd_Allah

https://archnet.org/sites/6410

3.Friday Mosque/Great Mosque of Herat:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Mosque_of_Herat

https://archnet.org/authorities/3698/sites/3931

4.Shah do Shamshira

https://www.orientalarchitecture.com/sid/846/afghanistan/kabul/shah-do-shamshira-mosque

https://www.beautifulmosque.com/shah-do-shamshira-mosque-in-kabul-afghanistan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shah-Do_Shamshira_Mosque

https://www.gpsmycity.com/attractions/shah-do-shamshira-mosque-54626.html

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/afghanistan/kabul/attractions/shah-e-doh-shamshira-mosque/a/poi-sig/451053/355754

5.Bagh-e-babur

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gardens_of_Babur

https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5469/

https://www.orientalarchitecture.com/sid/845/afghanistan/kabul/bagh-e-babur-garden

https://archnet.org/sites/3940/media_contents/89334

  1. Herat Citadel 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herat_Citadel

https://archnet.org/sites/6834

7.Darul Aman Palace

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darul_Aman_Palace

  1. Minaret of Jam 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minaret_of_Jam

https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/211/

https://archnet.org/sites/3928

9.Taimur Shah Mausoleum

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Timur_Shah_Durrani

https://archnet.org/sites/5326

https://www.gpsmycity.com/attractions/timur-shah-mausoleum-54625.html

  1. Ahmedshah Durrani Mausoleum

https://archnet.org/sites/5787/media_contents/46261

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Ahmad_Shah_Durrani

https://beautifulglobal.com/ahmad-shah-durrani-mausoleum/

Author

A person who is passionate about art defines Rasika Hivrekar precisely, resonating with the meaning of her name. She is a final year architecture student. She believes self-expression is the best gift to mankind and loves exploring new avenues of it. Along with architecture, she is passionate about writing and music as well.

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