Kabul was left on life-support when the Taliban fled after the post-911 bombing campaign led by the United States. Reduced to rubble, the Afghani capital was wrecked by years of devastating war. Today, the city is rapidly rebuilding thanks to support from the international community and an economic boom. New buildings and restaurants seem to spring up every few weeks, and there is a cosmopolitan vibe growing once again in the air. Kabul is now a fascinating snapshot of a new nation still under construction, and it is an exciting and inspiring introduction to Afghanistan.
Like nearly everything in the city, the Kabul Museum is currently being revitalized. Once one of the world’s greatest museums, with exhibits ranging from Greek coins to Islamic bronzes, the museum suffered from years of abuse during wars. Today, help from the international community is aiding its slow rise from the ashes. Pieces are returning from hiding and looters, and the treasures include sections of a 12th-century Lashkar Gah mosque, a Greek inscription form Ai-Khanoum, 3rd-century limestone Buddhist statues and 15th-century pottery from Kandahar. Security is tight, but it is well worth the hassle to explore the incredible and growing collection.
The National Gallery is also in the midst of a recovery, but the present collection is definitely worth seeing. Paintings and historic pictures by Afghan artists take center stage, and the gallery’s staff managed to save over 100 paintings from destruction by the Taliban. The Taliban forbade creating images of living things, so the staff used watercolors to transform people into trees or horses into mountain views in some of the most treasured paintings. The creative solution worked, and the pieces were spared from destruction.
The most lovely place in Kabul is Babur’s Gardens, laid out in the early 16th century as the final resting place of the Mughal ruler Babur. The 11 hectares have been wonderfully restored after being left in ruins during the war, and today the gardens are the largest public green space in the capital. High walls surround the gardens, apricot, cherry and walnut trees provide shade and a pavilion sits in the center.
So much of Afghanistan’s history revolves around war, and more than 60 types of mines still can be found in the countryside. The Omar Land Mine Museum is dedicated to educating the public about these camouflaged weapons, and visitors will leave with a good understanding of the de-mining effort after viewing videos, murals and real mines.
Set up in 2004, the Sultani Museum is another one of Kabul’s most interesting sights. The private museum includes a collection of over 3,000 Afghan antiquities, including beautiful Qurans, gold plates, Graeco-Bactrian coins, Ghorid pottery and Islamic-era manuscripts.
Other sights worth visiting in the ever-changing city include the Ka Faroshi bird market, the Royal Palace of Darulaman, the Ghazi Stadium, the dazzling Mausoleum of Abdur Rahman Khan, the Mausoleum of Timur Shah, Bibi Mahru Hill, the Shah-e Doh Shamshira Mosque, the National Archive, the European Cemetery and the Mausoleum of Nadir Shah.
Kabul Geographical Location
Not only is Kabul the capital of Afghanistan but it is also the largest city in the country holding 2.8 million individuals as of 2008 census. Kabul is located between the Hindu Kush mountains and is located above 5,900 feet above sea level.
The city of Kabul is more than 3,500 years old with the Kabul Valley possibly being older than 5,000 years.
The two official languages throughout Afghanistan include Dari and Pashto, with the latter being the national language since 1936.
Kabul Predominant Religion
The predominant religion in Afghanistan remains to be Islam, with 84% being Sunni and 15% Shiite.
The Afghani (AFA) is the official currency of Kabul, Afghanistan.
The climate is semi-arid in Kabul meaning that the rain is intense throughout the winter as well as spring, sometimes turning to snow. Summer beings in May and continues through August and are generally low in humidity. September and October are the months of Autumn and are usually significantly warm and dry. Winters last from November until March and are slightly cold and the wettest time of year is Spring, which begins in late March and runs until May.
Kabul main attractions
- Kabul Museum
- Mausoleum of Timur Shah Durrani
- Abdul Rahman Mosque
- Bāgh-e Bābur Park (aka Babur Gardens)
Other attractions in Kabul
- Pul-e Khishti Mosque
- Bebi Mahroo Park
Closest major airport to Kabul, Afghanistan
The closest airport is within the city and is Kabul International Airport.
The airport codes are (KBL / OAKB).
The airport is located just 9 miles from the Kabul city center.