Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley
Cultural Landscape And Archaeological Remains Of The Bamiyan Valley
Cultural Afghanistan Asia And The Pacific Bamiyan Province, Bamiyan District

The Bamiyan Valley lies some 264 km by road west of Kabul, enclosed within the high mountains of the Hindu Kush, in the central highlands of Afghanistan. The valley, at an altitude of 2,500 m, follows the Bamiyan River. It formed one of the branches of the Silk Road and its beautiful landscape is associated with legendary figures. It was these aspects that contributed to its development as a major religious and cultural centre. It was inhabited and partly urbanized from the 3rd century BC.

The nominated site consists of eight separate core zones, each with its buffer zone:

  • The Bamiyan Cliffs on the north side of the valley include the two colossal niches that contained the large standing Buddha figures.
  • The Kakrak Valley caves, some 3 km south-east of the Bamiyan cliffs, date from the 6th to 13th centuries. •The two main important groups of the Fuladi Valley caves are the Qoul-i Akram and Kalai Ghamai caves, which have important decorative features.
  • Shahr-i Zuhak and Qallai Kaphari consist of fortification walls, towers, and citadels of earthen structures dating from the 6th to 8th centuries.
  • Shahr-i Ghulghulah is a fortified citadel situated on a hill in the centre of the valley and dates from the 6th to 10th centuries AD.

The cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley represent the artistic and religious developments which from the 1st to the 13th centuries characterized ancient Bactria, integrating various cultural influences into the Gandhara school of Buddhist art. The area contains numerous Buddhist monastic ensembles and sanctuaries, as well as fortified structures from the Islamic period. The site is also testimony to the tragic destruction by the Taliban of the two standing Buddha statues, which shook the world in March 2001.