Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

The capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, is located in the mountains, at an altitude of 1850 m above sea level. This is not only one of the highest capitals in the world but also one of the oldest cities in Central Asia. Unfortunately, longterm wars destroyed the once beautiful city and now it looks more like a huge dump with numerous checkpoints and garbage which no one bothers to clean.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Kabul has a long history. The first mention of it refers to the second millennium BC. And only in 1776, it became the capital of the modern state of Afghanistan.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

British forces captured Kabul in September, 1879. History has a lot of evidence of their cruelty and vandalism. One of the most glaring examples is the fact that they erected a gallows in the shape of a circle (the so-called “carousel of death”) and used it to execute several dozens of people at once.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Now the city’s population is about 600.000 people.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

There are many legends concerning the city’s origin and name. One of them says the following:

The horse of Padishah stopped abruptly. Further, there was no way. Only the water surface of a lake, in the middle of which – some mysterious green island. After some hesitation, Padishah gathered his viziers and ordered them to build a temporary bridge. A lot of straw was brought from the nearest settlements, put into the lake and strengthened with sand. When the bridge was finished, Padishah started his way to the island. Having reached the land, he heard the sound of beautiful music. It turned out that skillful musicians lived on the island dedicating all their free time to music and dancing. Padishah was fascinated by their play. He liked the valley so much that decided to build a town here and call it Kapul (meaning “a bridge made of straw”). Later the name was transformed into Kabul.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

As you can see there are almost no tall buildings in the city.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Now, as the war ended, the city is being slowly rebuilt. Here you won’t see a crane or any other construction equipment. All is done manually.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

The city is something like a maze of numerous slums.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

It’s nice to walk here in the evening among the remains of ancient buildings.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Still, the locals don’t recommend to walk for a long time around one place. Of course, Kabul is one of the safest cities in the world, but sometimes some dishonest Kabulis manage to sell tourists to the Taliban.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

A mosque and residential areas.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

In some places Kabul is very much like Amsterdam – the same number of bicycles and picturesque canals.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

A tall and very beautiful mosque stands right on the quay.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Over 50 years, nothing has changed here.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Kabul reminds of Moscow as well. It is too divided into two parts by the river of the same name. The photo depicts the riverbed of the Kabul.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

And this is one of the most dangerous places in the city. The main buildings of the city are located at this crossroads – the offices of the UN, the central bank and different departments. Explosions and terrorist attacks surprise nobody here. On the card you can see the same place 40 years ago.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

The Kabul River reminds of a stinking brook.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Water resembles waste engine oil – black thick stinking liquid.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Food, household waste, shit – all is thrown into the river.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

In the previous times, people sold food on the quay and the river was clean.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Today, there is no quay – only one big dump.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

A layer of garbage reaches 50 cm.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Look, how it looked earlier. Perfect cleanliness.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Now, this place looks like this.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Some of the poor manage to find food in these mountains of garbage.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Local taxis are yellow and white and usually stuffed with passengers. An average price is $ 3-5 but the seats in the trunk are cheaper.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Almost all public buildings and hotels are surrounded by high fences.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

A typical checkpoint at the end of a street. Usually soldiers check documents, sometimes inspect cars.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Apart from ordinary taxis, there are also minibus taxis which stop right in the middle of the road to let the passengers board.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Some people believe that license plates are for losers. And indeed, if you have dough, the plate is not needed. Moreover, you can even have your own armed guards sitting in the trunk of your car. Very convenient.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Destroyed by the war building.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Old buildings are not restored.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

The Olympic stadium. Some time ago this stadium was used by the Taliban. There, they cut off the hands of thieves in public and carried out executions. In the 90s hundreds of people were killed there.

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit

Each district has its own team of garbage collectors.

39 thoughts on “Kabul: the Capital You Do Not Want to Visit”

  1. This is what the city looks like after billions of U.S. dollars in aid. Afghans are in charge of running this city. It looks like most of that money went into the pockets of corrupt officials. How much would it have cost to clean up some of the garbage and paint the buildings? Shameful.

  2. The afghanistan situation is a complicated some in some respects. if Americans were not so sick on drugs and heroin, the poppie fields and crops would be pretty useless. This means the Taliban would have a much harder time to make money and be perhaps no real threat at all. With no Taliban, perhaps no 9/11 and then perhaps no spending TRILLIONS of dollars on 2 wars these past 10 years. So, part of the problem is sicko Americans (and the West) and their drugs. But that is PART of the problem.

    • We spend all this money over seas while we do almost nothing about the Drug cartels along the Mexican/US border who have clearly made an open declaration of war on the US government they have killed dozens of Border Patrol agents over the past 10 years and their drugs threaten the fiber of our nation but no that is not too important. The up side is that some military embers have realized where the true threat lies and have joined the Border Patrol so that they can truly defend their home land.

      • “their drugs threaten the fiber of our nation” Are you kidding? Their drugs? Who do you think is buying all these drugs from Mexico?

      • But do you realize the the problem with the Mexican drug trade is that there is a market IN AMERICA for them to exist. IfAmericans had no obession with drugs the Mexican problem would simplt disappear (supply and demand). So the real problem is the American people, not goverment (Mexican or American) border agencies

      • Border Patrol? The “threat” is endless drug consumption, or the millions of Amreican potheads that pay 70% of Mexican Cartels earnings. US authorities tolerate the drug consumption, there is no other explanation for the 18 million pot users last year only in the US. And they don’t give a damn of the losing Mexican effort and their 50,000 dead casualties and chaos. Much less for the Afghan Heroin traffickers. Drug “Wars” are a tragic joke.

    • Heroin addicts are everywhere. If you are looking for blame, there is plenty to go around. The Taliban had actually stopped poppy production at one point, so I don’t understand your point.
      Maybe the trouble began when some extinct superpower decided it needed to move in on India?

      • “Heroin addicts are everywhere”. But the biggest supplier of Heroin is not “everywhere”. It is Afhanistan, and your military (with your taxes) is protecting Drug Trafficking. Possibly your problem is that you can’t divert this embarrassment to anyone else. Sad.

    • Bunka, Wrong. Soviets moved in becasue there was an islamic guerrilla threatening a Socioalist government in the 70’s. And these US backed guerillas kicked the Soviets and later turned agianst you, sending the country back to the middle ages (and levelling your WTC and Pentagon)… Now you support the biggest Heroin producers/exporters in the world! You have a problem choosing your “friends”.

    • ? i mean, i have a few friends that moved to the metro area(i live north of there) aanndd detroit looks nothing like this.. i’m not trying to build up detroit or because of pride or something like that, but, these photos sadden me.. just because its real. this would be more akin to gary indiana

  3. US government lies, trick American people going to war for all the supposedly right reasons, but in reality those war doesn’t benefit anyone but a few individuals.
    Just look at some of the latest wars fought by the US. We were in Iraq for the WMDs, we didn’t find it then we change topic to liberating Iraqi people just for the hell of it so that we can stay there and control them. And Afghanistan was fought because of Osama Bin Laden, and here is the problem a whole country doesn’t have to suffer because of action of a few people, this is like what Hitler did in WWII, making all Jews suffer because what he thinks about a few of them.

  4. I’m from Afghanistan, and I don’t think is an accurate representation of my country. I could be wrong, but it very much seems like the author/photographer visited Afghanistan for perhaps a week or two, stayed only in the capital city, and photographed essentially the same location from a variety of viewpoints.

    Seeing these photos, one could be forgiven for thinking there’s nothing more to the city than the polluted river. It references the entire city looking like a “slum” and yet doesn’t show any of the exorbitantly expensive (and, I might add, often hideous) houses used by large organizations (sometimes known here as ‘poppy palaces’)

    The photographer chose to photographer a high wall just near the luxurious Serena Hotel while avoiding the hotel itself. I’m not saying that these places are luxury are necessarily good, I just believe the picture both this photographer and author painted is one dimensional and biased.

    If you come to Kabul again, I suggest finding a better guide.

    Lastly, it’s a bit tiresome to hear (on a Russian site) all this trashing of the U.S. and Americans. My country was devastated long before the US came by the decade long war with the Soviets, where so many of us lost our livelihoods, limbs and family members.

    Not saying the U.S. is a savior in any way, I think it would be better if they left, both for our sake and for theirs. Having family in America I find it baffling to see the amount of US taxes being poured into my country but for whose real benefit.

    But please don’t rewrite history as if this all happened in 2001. It didn’t.

  5. Let’s not forget that in the 80’s the US gave million$ to the mujahideen to fight the USSR – dollars and Stingers etc etc. That’s right, the US funded bin Laden and his pals, stoopid fux.

    But the real problem isn’t here anyway – it’s always been in Pakistan! Thanks to US intervention in the 80’s Afghanistan became a prime source of income for terrorist groups based in Pakistan.

    Thank you for your insight M.Saeed – I wish you and your fellow Afghans all the best for the future. Don’t forget that the US is going to “re-build” your nation, just like it did in Iraq, so you don’t have to worry about a thing, right! – cos the US economy is thriving right now and they have lots of $$ to throw at the situation don’t they. Yes, I know, UK has a lot to be blamed for as well – Tony Blair especially. Makes me sick to even write down his name.

    I’m not sure the West will ever comprehend the mind-set of Arab tribes people, I just wish for that reason alone it would keep it freekin nose out of their business. But then Jews hold the purse-strings in Western banks so there you go – Post WWII all that jewish gold arriving west made politicians go crazy I guess.

    These people won’t miraculously change their culture just because there is a McDonald’s in town – they need a bit more than that if you get mixed up trying to make their future.

    • It’s all OK Scott, but don’t blame only the Jewish people for the ancient greed of the West, or the destructive power thirst of the Soviets. Both sides were (or are) filled with people supporting the most self interested policies. Nothing new.

  6. Now you Afgan peeps,Clean the river,fill ur water-pipe with fresh water and poppy or pot,and chill after a day of labor on the land,build a 18+peepshow and don’t look at young female dressed boys dancing on a bear carpet.

  7. If anyone on here wants to understand the current political situation in the middle east then I can recommend reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom from T.E. Lawrence(AKA Lawrence of Arabia).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Pillars_of_Wisdom

    It’s a great read of someone that understood the mindset of the people in the middle east.

  8. M.Saeed – You are, of course, quite correct and I did not mean any offense by using “arabs”. I knew it was incorrect as I typed it, but I failed to find brief, adequate terminology that would convey the message. I stand corrected thank you.

    There are equally as many ill educated, illiterate westerners as may be found in any other part of the world – we can claim no prizes for that one 😉

  9. “In some places Kabul is very much like Amsterdam – the same number of bicycles and picturesque canals”.

    No, it really resembles Venice in Italy much more. Really!

  10. Pathetic to see Russians holding a grudge against Afghanistan for what happened there when the experience of the USSR then was a result of its own incredibly stupid leaders who made incredibly stupid decisions for the nation for which the USSR paid the ultimate price with its collapse. To be clear we have also made the same stupid decisions but with one important difference. Most Americans are coming around to how stupid it was. Russians however at least the one posting these pictures even 30 years on are still holding a grudge against the people least to blame for anything that happened to Russians, to Americans or to themselves. They are the true victims, regardless of their backwardness. Had the USSR stayed out of there, and the USA stayed out of there, the place would still be beautiful. Russians need to blame the right people, their leaders at the time.

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