Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley – UNESCO Heritage in Afghanistan



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 Bakhtria, integrating various cultural influences into the Gandhara school of Buddhist art. The area contains numerous Buddhist monastic ensembles and sanctuaries, as well as fortified edifices from the Islamic period. This site listed in UNESCO Heritage in the year of 2003.


Located in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, 230 kilometres (140 mi) northwest of Kabul. Enclosed between the high mountains of the Hindu Kush in the central highlands of Afghanistan, the Bamiyan Valley opens out into a large basin bordered to the north by a long, high stretch of rocky cliffs.

About Bamian Valley

1. Many statues of Buddha were carved into the sides of cliffs facing Bamiyan city. The two most prominent of these statues were standing Buddhas, measuring 55 and 37 meters high respectively, that were the largest examples of standing Buddha carvings in the world. They were probably erected in the 4th or 5th century.

2. The Buddha statues and the cave art in Bamiyan Valley are an outstanding representation of the Gandharan school in Buddhist art in the Central Asian region.

3. The artistic and architectural remains of Bamiyan Valley, an important Buddhist centre on the Silk Road, are an exceptional testimony to the interchange of Indian, Hellenistic, Roman and Sasanian influences as the basis for the development of a particular artistic expression in the Gandharan school. To this can be added the Islamic influence in a later period.

4. The Bamiyan Valley is an outstanding example of a cultural landscape which illustrates a significant period in Buddhism. The Bamiyan Valley is the most monumental expression of the western Buddhism. It was an important centre of pilgrimage over many centuries. Due to their symbolic values, the monuments have suffered at different times of their existence, including the deliberate destruction in 2001, which shook the whole world.

5. A major loss to the integrity of the site was the destruction of the large Buddha statues in 2001. However, a significant proportion of all the attributes that express the Outstanding Universal Value of the site, such as Buddhist and Islamic architectural forms and their setting in the Bamiyan landscape, remain intact at all 8 sites within the boundaries, including the vast Buddhist monastery in the Bamiyan Cliffs which contained the two colossal sculptures of the Buddha.

Best Time to Visit

It is best to make travel plans for the spring or fall, particularly from April to June or from September to October. Spring is a pleasant season especially across north Afghanistan as the desert and hills turn a lively green.


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