The troubled nation of Afghanistan is inching its way back onto the intrepid traveller’s radar. Lonely Planet’s first guide to the country is published this month, and recently we reported on the coverage of Kabul’s unique charms in the New York Times. But while peace in former trouble spots like Cambodia and Bosnia has restored the architectural heritage of Angkor Wat and the bridge at Mostar, one of Afghanistan’s greatest treasures is under threat of destruction.
The Towers of Victory have stood for more than eight hundred years, but now the honey-coloured minarets that have survived periods of war and invasion are under serious threat of erosion. When the son of Ghenghis Khan destroyed the nearby city of Ghazni in 1221, the towers survived, but centuries of neglect and illegal excavations for antiquities and buried treasure have made them increasingly precarious.
Afghanistan’s financially strapped new government has only been able to allocate $100 across the last six years to ensure the towers’ upkeep. In the glory days of the “Hippie Trail” Afghanistan was a heady stopping-off point from Europe to Asia. Let’s hope lasting peace can come to Afghanistan so its unique heritage can be secured.