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Bamiyan Buddha


The cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley represent the artistic and religious developments that characterised ancient Bakhtria from the first to the thirteenth centuries, incorporating various cultural influences into the Gandhara school of Buddhist art. There are numerous Buddhist monastic ensembles and sanctuaries in the area, as well as fortified Islamic edifices.

The heritage resources in Bamiyan Valley have been damaged by various disasters, and some areas are in jeopardy. The destruction of the large Buddha statues in 2001 by the Taliban was a significant blow to the site's integrity. However, a significant proportion of all the attributes that express the site's Outstanding Universal Value, such as Buddhist and Islamic architectural forms and their setting in the Bamiyan landscape, remain intact at all eight sites within the boundaries, including the vast Buddhist monastery in the Bamiyan Cliffs that housed two colossal Buddha sculptures.

The remains of the Bamiyan Buddhas were added to UNESCO's list of world heritage sites in 2003. It was proposed that the statues be rebuilt using the remaining pieces and reinstalled in their niches.

" we have witnessed other instances where cultural heritage has fallen prey to conflict, political turmoil and misappropriation. All of us, governments, educators and the media, must raise awareness of the standards set by the World Heritage Convention of 1972, the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Properties in the Event of Armed Conflict and its Protocol, and the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property."~ UNESCO


The Bamiyan valley, located in the Hindu Kush mountains and along the Bamiyan River, was a key node of the early Silk Routes, emerging as a commercial and cultural exchange hub.

According to UNESCO, the “rise of Bamiyan was closely connected with spread of Buddhism across Central Asia, and that in turn was linked to the political and economic currents of that time. Early in the first century AD, a semi-nomadic tribe called the Kushans swept out of Bactria… The Kushans made themselves the unavoidable middlemen between China, India and Rome, and prospered on the revenues of the Silk Road. In so doing, they fostered a syncretic culture, in which tribal traditions from Central Asia fused with artistic conventions derived from the Hellenized Mediterranean and with the ideologies coming from Buddhist India, as reflected in the remarkable cultural legacy to be found in Bamiyan.”


The cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley continue to bear witness to the valley's various cultural phases. The Bamiyan Valley, as a cultural landscape, continues to express its Outstanding Universal Value in terms of form and materials, location and setting, but is vulnerable to development and requires careful conservation and management.


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