Minarets of Ghazna (Ghazni)
Azad Architects conducted a research to document and bring attention to two most significant monuments of the glorious era of the
Ghaznavids Empire of Afghanistan in the 10th and 11th Century A.D in July 2002..
Under the Dynasty of the Ghaznavids (977-1186
A.D.), these two minarets known as Victory Towers
were built. One is the minaret of Masud III
(1099-1115 A.D.) and the other is the minaret of
Bahram Shah (1118-1157 A.D.) The site is located
about one mile north-east of the Old City of Ghazni.
The famous Palace of Masud III (archeological site
found in 1964) is located between the two minarets.
Excavation work completed by a team of Italian
Archeologists in 1966 confirmed the connection of
the site with the reign of Masud III.
The architecture and decoration of these two
minarets are unique in style. The minaret of Masud
is on a round socle and the minret of Bahram
Shah is on an octagonal socle. Both are
conceived on the plan of eight-sided stars. Today
only the base stories remained. Sketches of the
early 19th Century A.D. show that the prismatic
bases carried cylindrical shafts (Hill and Grabar
1967). These shafts which were almost an equal
height as the bases have been destroyed and
TOMB OF SULTAN MAHMOOD, THE GREAT
The terracotta decoartion of the towers corresponds to the rich and noval architecture inventions (Dupree). This
architecture may be a collection and transmission of Sassanids and the Central Asian regions which became a source
for first Islamic Renaisance during the Ghaznavids period and an inpiration of art and architecture in later Mughols in
India. Azad Architects raises serious concerns toward the deterioration of these two minarets and lack of any program
for the maintenance and conservation of these two significant monuments.
In the vicinity of the site there are several other significant historical structures that dates back to the same era. Tombs of
Sultan Mahmood the Great and tomb of Sultan Masud and several othe shrines and sturctures are located within a mile radious
of the two minarets.
Severe damages are noticeable in the main bodies of these two minarets. Some repair and patch work have been
performed in the past, but non matches the original art work and decoration. What threatens the survival of these
two minarets are the exposure of the minarets to natural (weather) and man's harms and tribulations. The inner
shafts of the minarets are exposed to rain water and snow. The bases of the two minarets are subject to damage
by passing vehicles, pedestrians, and animals. The foundations of the minarets are exposed to rain water and
snow accumulation. What adds on to these threats are the lack of any supervision and maintenance program.
Azad Architects proposes a complete preservation plan for these two historical monuments and the site. A complete
preservation work will require a much comprehensive study, plan, experise and a much larger budget.
Historical Buildings and Structures in Kabul
Azad Architects travelled to Kabul in May 1996 and inJanuary 2002 in the invitations of the governments of Afghanistan to survey and
document the damages and destruction in the city. It was found that about 1/3 of the city was levelled to ground inculding the Old City of
Kabul. Significant structures such as the Clock Tower was demolished completely. The extend of the damages was so wide that it would
have taken months, perhaps years to document every structure. In this page, we have collected photos of some of the well-known
buildings that have been damaged.
Chehel Sutoon Palace
Babur Shah Tomb
Mosque in Bagh-e-Babur
Building in Bagh-e-Babur
Mosque in Bagh-e-Babur
King's Palace (The Arg)
King's Palace (The Arg)
King's Palace (The Arg)
Kabul Fortress (Bala Hesar)
Tomb of Nadir Shah
Tomb of Timur Shah
Tomb of King A Rahman Khan
5th Century Walls
Tapa-e-Taj Beg Palace
Shah-e-Do Shamshera Mosque
Del Kosha Palace (Arg)
Survey and Documentation of Historical Buildings in Herat, 1976
In the summer of 1976, a team of Kabul University
architectural staff and students, including Mr.
Azadzoi , participated in a field work and
documentation of the Islamic buildings and structures
in the region of Herat, Afghanistan. The field work
and survey guided by Professor Rafi Samizay and
Wassay Najimi covered the whole region of Herat.
Every single building and monuments were
measured,drawn, and photographed.
In the region of Herat the following monuments were
surveyed and documented: Jam, Shah-e-Mashad,
Chesht, Ghorian, Kohsan, Zinda Jan, Khwaja
Mohammad Ghazi, Khwaja Abdul Haq Wali,
Rubat-e-Pai, Barnabad, Mulla-e-Kalan, Ziaratgah,
Masjid-e-Chehelstun, Karukh, Sufi Islam, Khush
Rabat, Khanaqa-e-Deh Minar, and Ghalwar mosque.
A view of the Old City of Herat from the roof of the Masjid-e-Jami
Herat looking north. In the background appears the 14th Century
minarets of the Timurids period and the walls of the Old City.
Old City of Herat and the Old Citadel of Herat
In the vicinity of the City of Herat a number of
significant historical structures and monuments
from the era of the Ghurids and Timurids exists.
They are the shrine in Gazargah, the complex
of the Khuaja Abdullah Ansari,
Khanaqa-e-Zarnigar, the shrine of Abdul Walid,
the shrine of Abdul Wahed Shahid, Kuhandazh,
Shahzada Abdullah, Shahzada Abul Quasim,
Khyaban, Tomb of Gowharshad, the minarets,
and the Baba Hasan Abdal shrine.
The old City of Herat is one of the oldest cities of the
Central Asia and the Khurasan. Its history goes back to
before the coming of Islam to the region. During the Timurids,
Herat flourished as one of the cultural and educational center
of the Islamic world in the 13th to 14th Century A.D.
The Old City is devided into four quarters of almost equal
sizes. In the center of the city located the Char Suq. The
quarters are named as Bar Durrani, Qutbe Chaq, Momanda
and Abdullah Mesri. Each quarter contains residential houses
and complexes, mosques, cisterns, bath houses, madrasas,
shrines, and synagogues.
The axial streets provides centers for shops and and other
commercial activities while Caravan Serais are in the outskirt
of the Old City walls.
The Old City is rectangular in shape and measures about
1.2Km by 1.2Km. The city is enclosed with four walls and
there are towers at each corner of the walls. There are also
entry gates from North, South, East and West.
The Citadel is located on a high hill at the northern section of
the Olc City. The Citadel is enclosed with its own fortress
and walls and moat.
Plan of a Typical House in Old City
Gowharshad Tomb Section and Floor Plan
Grand Mosque of Herat (Masjid-e-Jami)
Floor Plan & Section of the Grand Mosque of Herat
Plan & Section of a Bath House in Herat
The Minarets of Herat
Houses in the Old City of Herat are grouped
as 4-8 houses share one single entrance and
are connected to each other. Several extended
families own or occupy the cluster housing.
Houses are inward oriented and windows are
usually oriented toward in inner courtyard.
Northern Afganistan consist of
areas north of the Hidukush
mountains and south of the Amu
(Oxus) River. In between lies ancient
cities ruines and heritage.
During a field trip in 1976, a number
of these historical sites were visited
and photographed. To the right is a
photo of the walls of the ancient city
of Balkh (Bacteria). The base of this
wall is a man made mount which
measures more than 30 meter at the
base. The wall is made of much brick
with thick mud plaster. Towers are
within 100 meters from each other.
The Nuh Gunbad is listed as the
earliest mosque built in the region.
"Nuh" means Nine and "Gunbad"
means Dome, thus Nuh Gunbad
means Nine Domes. Apparantly, this
structure had nine domes which no
longer exists. Nine domes can be
supported with 16 columns, or four
walls with four columns at the
center. Columns were connected
with pointed arches with each other.
The columns are made of dried mud
and they are short and massive. The
decoration of the columns and
arches reflects the architectural style
of pre-Islamic era in the region,
perhaps to the era of Sassanids and
Samanids. This structure is in danger
of collapsing. A sheet metal roof is
provided to protect the remaining
structure from further deterioration
The Caves in Samangan dates back
to pre-Islamic periods. These caves are
man made and they have been used as
storages and stables for horses and
other animals. This indicates that these
caves belonged to a rich and a well
established civilization in the past.
Further archaelogical studies are
needed to investigate the existing of
these caves and to determine to which
period of history they belong to. These
caves are under ground on a hill. There
are many other sites in this province
that contains many artifacts and
The Takht-e-Rustam in Samangan is
perhaps the oldest structure and remains
of an early civilization in the region.
Although the name refers to the legendary
and mythical hero, Rostam, but the remains
and the structure may date back to an
early civilization of the Zorohasterian.
Zoroastrianism was once the dominant
religion of much early Afghanistan. The
religion was marginalized following the
Islamic conquests of the mid-7th century.
Takht-e-Rustam is made of a huge rock in
the shape of a half sphere. Its size is
perhaps around 30-40 meter in radius. This
huge half sphere is carved in an
underground rock and to access to the top
of this sphere, one must use a ladder to
reach. On top of this round rock is a raised
platform in the shape of square. In the
middle of this raised platform is a man
made stone vessel.
As legendary it is believed that this raised
platform and the vessel may have been
used for either putting up fire by the
Zoroasterians or may have been used as a
A Covered Marketplace in Samangan
Walls of the Old City of Balkh
The Nuh Gunbad Mosque, 7th-8th A.D.
The Caves in Samangan