Site of the Buddhas of Bamiyan

Bamiyam Valley
Bamyan Province, Afghanistan

Big Buddha
The Buddhas of Bamiyam were two 6th century monumental statues of standing buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamiyam Valley. Built in 507 AD and 554 AD, they were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Work has since begun on restoring the Buddhas.

Map of the Area Around
Site of the Buddhas of Bamiyan

The Buddhas were dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban, after the Taliban government declared that they were idols. Many nations have since pledged support for the rebuilding of the statues.

The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas became a symbol of oppression and a rallying point for the freedom of religious expression. Despite the fact that most Afghans are now Muslim, they too had embraced their past and many were appalled by the destruction.

Site of the Buddhas of Bamiyan Categories

  • Ancient Structures

    In the 2nd century, the Bamiyam (also Bamyan or Bamwan) Valley was part of the silk road and the site of a Buddhist monastery.
  • Man-Made

    The main bodies of the Buddhas were carved directly from the sandstone cliffs, but details were modeled in mud mixed with straw, coated with stucco.
  • Monuments and Memorials

    The smaller of the statues was built between 544 and 595, the larger was built between 591 and 644. They are believed to have been built by the Kushans, with the guidance of local Buddhist monks.
  • Places of Worship, Religious Buildings

    The Bamiyam Valley was a Buddhist religious site from the 2nd century up to the time of the Islamic invasion in the later half of the 7th century. It was a tradition for monks to paint frescoes or carve statues.
  • World Heritage Site

    The Buddha statues (no longer standing) and the cave art in Bamiyan Valley are an outstanding representation of the Gandharan school in Buddhist art in the Central Asian region.

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