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—  City  —
Kabul is situated 5,900 ft above sea level in a narrow valley, wedged between the Hindu Kush mountains
Kabul is located in Afghanistan
Location in Afghanistan
Coordinates: 34°31′59″N 69°09′58″E / 34.53306°N 69.16611°E / 34.53306; 69.16611Coordinates: 34°31′59″N 69°09′58″E / 34.53306°N 69.16611°E / 34.53306; 69.16611
Country  Afghanistan
Province Kabul Province
District Kabul District
No. of sectors 18 sectors or boroughs
 - Mayor Mohammad Yunus Noandesh
 - City 275 km2 (106.2 sq mi)
 - Metro 425 km2 (164.1 sq mi)
Elevation 1,790 m (5,873 ft)
Population (2009)[1]
 - City 3,568,500
Time zone Afghanistan Standard Time (UTC+4:30)

Kabul (Persian: کابل Kābol IPA: [kɒːˈbol]; Pashto: کابل Kābul IPA: [kɑˈbul];[2] archaic Caubul), is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan, located in Kabul Province. According to a 2009 census, it has a population of 3,568,500.[3][4]

It is an economic and cultural centre, situated 5,900 ft (1,800 m) above sea level in a narrow valley, wedged between the Hindu Kush mountains along the Kabul River. The city is linked with Ghazni, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif via a circular highway that stretches across the country. It is also the start of the main road to Jalalabad and, further on, Peshawar, Pakistan.

Kabul's main products include munitions, cloth, furniture and beet sugar, but since 1978, a state of nearly continuous war has limited the economic productivity of the city. Economic productivity has improved since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in 2001.[5]

Kabul is over 3,000 years old; many empires have long fought over the city for its strategic location along the trade routes of Southern and Central Asia. In 1504, Babur captured Kabul and used it as his headquarters until 1526, before his conquest of India. In 1776, Timur Shah Durrani made it the capital of modern Afghanistan.[6] Since the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the city has been a constant target of destruction by rebels or militants. It is currently in the early phases of reconstruction.[7] New construction projects are being implemented as attempts at modernizing the city.



History of Afghanistan
Emblem of Afghanistan
This article is part of a series
Pre-Islamic Period
Achaemenids (550-330 BC)
Seleucids (330-150 BC)
Greco-Bactrians (256-125 BC)
Sakas (145 BC - )
Kushans (30 CE - 248 CE)
Indo-Sassanid (248 - 410)
Kidarites (320-465)
Hephthalites (410-557)
Sassanids (224-579)
Kabul Shahi (565-670)
Islamic Conquest
Umayyads (661-750)
Abbasids (750-821)
Tahirids (821-873)
Saffarids (863-900)[8]
Samanids (875-999)
Ghaznavids (963-1187)
Seljukids (1037-1194)
Khwarezmids (1077-1231)
Ghurids (1149-1212)
Ilkhanate (1258-1353)
Timurids (1370-1506)
Mughals (1501-1738)
Safavids (1510-1709)
Hotaki dynasty (1709-1738)
Afsharids (1738-1747)
Durrani Empire (1747-1823)
Emirate (1823-1926)
Kingdom (1926-1973)
Republic (1973-1978)
Democratic Republic (1978-1992)
Islamic State (1992-1996)
Islamic Emirate (1996-2001)
Islamic Republic (2001-)
Afghan Civil War

Afghanistan Portal
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The city of Kabul is thought to have been established between 2000 BC and 1500 BC.[9] It was once the centre of Zoroastrianism followed by Buddhism. In the Rigveda (composed between 1700–1100 BC) the word "Kubhā" is mentioned, which appears to refer to the Kabul River. The Rigveda praise it as an ideal city, a vision of paradise set in the mountains.[10] There is a reference to a settlement called Kabura by the Achaemenid Persians around 400 BC which may be the basis for the use of the name Kabura (Κάβουρα) by Ptolemy.[11] Alexander the Great explored the area during his conquest of the Achaemenid Empire in 330 BC but didn't mention any city by the name of Kabul.[12] The city became part of the Seleucid Empire before becoming part of the Maurya Empire. The Bactrians founded the town of Paropamisadae near Kabul, but it was later ceded to the Mauryans in the 1st century BC.

Kushano-Hephthalite Kingdoms in 565 AD

According to many noted scholars, the Sanskrit name of Kabul is Kamboj.[13][14][15][16][17] It is mentioned as Kophes or Kophene in the classical writings. Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency 1904 maintains that the ancient name of Kabul was Kambojapura, which Ptolemy mentions as Kaboura (from Ka(m)bo(j)pura?) in 160 AD. Hiuen Tsang refers to the name as Kaofu (高附), which according to J.W. McCrindle,[18] Sylvain Lévi,[19] B.C. Law,[20] R.K. Mukkerji,[21] N.L. Dey[22] and many other scholars,[23] is equivalent to Sanskrit Kamboja (Kamboj/Kambuj). Kaofu was also the appellation of one of the five tribes of the Yuechi who had migrated from across the Hindukush into the Kabul valley around the beginning of the Christian era.[24] According to some scholars, the fifth clan mentioned among the Tochari/Yuechi may have been a clan of the Kambojas[25]

The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom captured Kabul from the Mauryans in the early 2nd century BC, then lost the city to their subordinates in the Indo-Greek Kingdom around the mid 2nd century BC. Indo-Scythians expelled the Indo-Greeks by the mid 1st century BC, but lost the city to the Kushan Empire nearly 100 years later. It was conquered by Kushan Emperor Kujula Kadphises in the early 1st century AD and remained Kushan territory until at least the 3rd century AD.[26][27]

Around 230 AD, the Kushans were defeated by the Sassanid Empire and replaced by Sassanid vassals known as the Kushanshas or Indo-Sassanids. In 420 AD the Kushanshahs (Kushan kings) were driven out of Afghanistan by the Xionites tribe known as the Kidarites, who were then replaced in the 460s by the Hephthalites. It became part of the surviving Turk Shahi Kingdom of Kapisa, also known as Kabul-Shahan. Barhatkin was the first Shahi king [28] followed by King Khingala [29] about 5th Century.

The Kabul rulers are probably identical with the so called Turk Shahi kings who are known from other sources, as for instance from the work of the earlier Islamic geographer, Abu Rahyan al-Biruni. This famous encyclopedic from Choresmia lived from AD 973 to about AD 1050 and worked at the court of the later Islamic ruler of East Afghanistan, Mahmud of Ghazni. In his large work on India (Tarikh al hind), al Biruni tells that the Turkic kings of Kabul and Gandhara claimed descent from King Kanishk, while at the same time they boasted of their Tibetan origins. They reigned according to al Biruni for 60 generations.[30]
—Willem Vogelsang, 2002

The Kabul rulers built a huge defensive wall around the city to protect it from future invaders. This wall has survived until today and is considered a historical site.


Islamic conquest

In 674, the Islamic invasions reached modern-day Afghanistan. Kabul to the east fell in 871 despite the resistance of the Hindushahi.[31] In the 9th century Ya'qub bin Laith as-Saffar, a coppersmith turned ruler from Zaranj, further established Islam in Kabulistan. Over the centuries to come, the city was successively controlled by the Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Timurids, Mughals, Durranis, and finally by the Barakzais.

In the 13th century the Mongol horde passed through and took control of the area. Reports of massacres in close-by Bamiyan is recorded around this period, where the entire village was annihilated by the Mongol troops. One of Genghis Khan's grandson was named "Kabul", which is the first recorded mention of this name.[32] The name is again mentioned when a Moroccan traveller, Ibn Battuta, visiting Kabul in 1333 writes:[33]

We travelled on to Kabul, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a village inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans.
—Ibn Battuta, 1304-1369

Timurid and Mughal era

In the 14th century, Kabul rose again as a trading center under the kingdom of Timur (Tamerlane), who married the sister of Kabul's ruler at the time. But as Timurid power waned, the city was captured in 1504 by Babur and made into his headquarters, which remained one of the capitals of the Mughal Empire for a long while. Haidar, an Indian poet who visited at the time wrote:

Dine and drink in Kabul: it is mountain, desert, city, river and all else.

It is from here that Babur raised an army of 12,000 to conquer India in 1526, with the intention of building a Muslim empire[citation needed]. Babur wished to be buried in Kabul, a city he had always loved, but at first he was buried in Agra, India. Roughly nine years later his remains were dug back up and re-buried at Bagh-e Babur (Babur Gardens) in Kabul by Sher Shah Suri on orders by Babur's wife. The inscription on his tomb contains Persian words penned by Babur:

.اگر پردیس روی زمین است همین است و همین است و همین است
(If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this!)
—Babur (1483-1531) [34]

The city was often contested by Babur's sons, especially Kamran Mirza and Humayun. Humayun was chased away from Hindustan by Sher Shah Suri but was able to return in November 1545, where he is believed to have taken Kabul without any bloodspills. Kamran managed to retake Kabul twice but he remained a hated figure to the residents of the city, as his periods of rule involved atrocities against large numbers of them. Following his third and final ejection from Kabul, Kamran fled and was captured in Punjab.

Modern history

Shah Shuja, the last Durrani King, sitting at his court inside the Bala Hissar before it was destroyed by the British Army

Nadir Shah of Persia invaded and captured the city in 1738 but was assassinated nine years later. Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander and personal bodyguard of Nader, took the throne in 1747, asserted Pashtun rule and further expanded his new Afghan Empire. His son Timur Shah Durrani, after inheriting power, transferred the capital of Afghanistan from Kandahar to Kabul in 1776.[35] Timur Shah died in 1793 and was succeeded by his son Zaman Shah Durrani. The first European to visit Kabul was the 18th century English traveller George Foster, who described it as "the best and cleanest city in Asia".[10]

In 1826, the kingdom was claimed by Dost Mohammad Khan and taken from him by the British Indian Army in 1839, who installed the unpopular Shah Shuja. An 1841 local uprising resulted in the loss of the British mission and the subsequent Massacre of Elphinstone's Army of approximately 16,000 foreign forces, which included civilians and camp followers on their retreat from Kabul to Jalalabad. In 1842 the British returned, plundering Bala Hissar in revenge before fleeing back to British India (now Pakistan). Dost Mohammed returned to the throne.

The British and Indian forces invaded in 1878 as Kabul was under Sher Ali Khan's rule, but the British residents were again massacred. The invaders again came in 1879 under General Roberts, partially destroying Bala Hissar before retreating to British India (Pakistan). Amir Abdur Rahman Khan was left in control of the country.

In the early 20th century King Amanullah Khan rose to power. His reforms included electricity for the city and schooling for girls. He drove a Rolls-Royce, and lived in the famous Darul Aman Palace. In 1919, after the Third Anglo-Afghan War, Amanullah announced Afghanistan's independence from foreign affairs at Eidgah Mosque. In 1929 Ammanullah Khan left Kabul due to a local uprising orchestrated by Habibullah Kalakani and Ammanullah's brother, Nader Khan, took control over the nation. King Nader Khan was assassinated in 1933 and the throne was left to his 19-year-old son, Zahir Shah, who became the long lasting King of Afghanistan.

Aerial view of Kabul in 1969

During this period between the two World Wars France and Germany worked to help develop the country in both the technical and educational spheres. Both countries maintained high schools and lycees in the capital and provided an education for the children of elite families.[36] Kabul University opened in 1932 and soon was linked to both European and American universities, as well as universities in other Muslim countries in the field of Islamic studies.[37] By the 1960s the majority of instructors at the university had degrees from Western universities.[37]

When Zahir Shah took power in 1933 Kabul had the only 6 miles of rail in the country, few internal telegraph or phone lines and few roads. He turned to the Japanese, Germans and Italians for help developing a modern network of communications and roads.[38] A radio tower built by the Germans in 1937 in Kabul allowed instant communication with outlying villages.[39] A national bank and state cartels were organized to allow for economic modernization.[40] Textile mills, power plants and carpet and furniture factories were also built in Kabul, providing much needed manufacturing and infrastructure.[40]

In 1955 the Soviet Union forwarded $100 million in credit to Afghanistan, which financed public transportation, airports, a cement factory, mechanized bakery, a five-lane highway from Kabul to the Soviet border and dams.[41]

In the 1960s, Kabul developed a cosmopolitan mood. The first Marks & Spencer store in Central Asia was built there. Kabul Zoo was inaugurated in 1967, which was maintained with the help of visiting German zoologists. Many foreigners began flocking to Kabul with the increase in global air travels around that time. The nation's tourism industry was starting to pick up rapidly for the first time.Kabul experimented with liberalization, dropping laws requiring women to wear the burka, restrictions on speech and assembly loosened which led to student politics in the capital.[42] Socialist, Maoist and liberal factions demonstrated daily in Kabul while more traditional Islamic leaders spoke out against the failure to aid the Afghan countryside.[42] A 1969 a religious uprising at the Pul-e Khishti Mosque protested the Soviet Union's increasing influence over Afghan politics and religion. This protest ended in the arrest of many of its organizers, including Mawlana Faizani, a popular Islamic scholar.In the early 1970s Radio Kabul began to broadcast in other languages besides Pashtun which helped to unify those minorities that often felt marginalized, however this was put to a stop with Daoud's revolution in 1973.[43]

The day after the April 1978 Saur Revolution

In July 1973, Zahir Shah was ousted in a nonviolent coup and Kabul became the capital of a republic under Mohammed Daoud Khan, the new President. Daoud's revolution was actually supported by the communist party in the city, the PDP. The support of the PDP helped to prevent a violent clash in his coup in 1973. He named himself President of this new democracy and planned to institute reforms. Daoud was the long standing prime minister, and while he instituted a republic he had Soviet leanings in terms of political allies.[44] He had welcomed Soviet military aid and advisors in 1956 and the nation slowly took on the appearance of what one US diplomat called a “Soviet-style police state, where there is no free press, no political parties, and where the ruthless suppression of minorities is the established pattern.”[45] Conversely, some of the people of Kabul who lived under King Zahir Shah describe the period before the April 1978 Saur Revolution as a sort of golden age. All the different ethnic groups or tribes of Afghanistan lived together harmoniously and thought of themselves first and foremost as Afghans. They intermarried and mixed socially.[10]

In the later years of his leadership, Daoud began to shift favour from the Soviet Union to Islamic nations, expressing admiration for their wealth from oil and expecting economic aid from them to quickly surpass that of the Soviet Union.[46] The slow speed of reforms however frustrated both the Western educated elite and the Russian trained army officers.[47] Daoud forced many communists out of his government, which unified the various communist factions within the city.[47]

This would ultimately lead to the Saur Revolution which occurred on April 27, 1978. The PDPA, the People's Democratic Party Army, seized the palace and killed Daoud and his family along with many of his supporters.[47] The new communist regime moved quickly to institute reforms. Private businesses were nationalized in the Soviet manner.[48] Education was modified into the Soviet model, with lessons focusing on teaching Russian, Leninism-Marxism and learning of other countries belonging to the Soviet bloc.[48] Rural guerrillas and disaffected army deserters took up arms in the name of Islam, due to the communist regime's increasing rejection of it.[48] This rebellion would eventually lead to the invasion of Afghanistan by Russian forces.[49]

Soviet invasion and civil war

Tajbeg Palace in Kabul was used as the headquarters of the Soviet 40th Army

After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, on December 24, 1979, the Red Army occupied the capital. They turned the city into their command center during the 10-year conflict between the Soviet-allied government and the Mujahideen rebels. The American Embassy in Kabul closed on January 30, 1989. The city fell into the hands of local militias and warlords after the 1992 collapse of Mohammad Najibullah's pro-communist government. As these forces divided into warring factions, the city increasingly suffered. In December, the last of the 86 city trolley buses came to a halt because of the conflict. A system of 800 public buses continued to provide transportation services to the city. By 1993 electricity and water in the city was completely out. At this time, Burhannudin Rabbani's militia (Jamiat-e Islami) held power but the nominal prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Islami began shelling the city, which lasted until 1996. Initially the factions in the city aligned to fight off Hekmatyar but diplomacy between the groups quickly broke down.[50] Due to the groups being mainly divided by ethnic origins the fighting quickly took on a genocidal aspect. The goal was to “purposefully eliminate people of a different identity ... by means of large-scale slaughter, coercive relocation, extortion and other modes of intimidation, such as rape and torture.”[51] Political control became almost feudal in manner, with a warlord controlling whatever area he and his followers could manage to militarily conquer. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed and many more fled as refugees. The United Nations estimated that 90% of the buildings in Kabul were destroyed during these years.

Kabul was captured by the Taliban on September 26, 1996,[52] publicly lynching ex-President Najibullah and his brother. During this time, all the fighting between the rival groups came to a sudden end. Burhannudin Rabbani, Gulbuddin Heckmatyar, Abdul Rashid Dostum, Ahmad Shah Massoud, and the rest all fled the city. The Taliban rule also did not last long, which made Afghanistan come to the brink of starvation. Many suspected that the Taliban were used as a proxy by neighboring Pakistan.

US-British invasion

Downtown area of Kabul

Approximately five years later, in October 2001, the United States armed forces along with British Armed Forces invaded the country during Operation Enduring Freedom. The Taliban abandoned Kabul in the following months due to extensive American and British bombing, while the Afghan Northern Alliance (former mujahideen and warlords) came to retake control of the city. In late December 2001 Kabul became the capital of the Afghan Transitional Administration, which transformed to the present Government of Afghanistan that is led by President Hamid Karzai.

Since the beginning of 2003, the city of Kabul has been slowly developing with the help of foreign investment. It is also the scene of many suicide bombings and powerful explosions where many people become casualties. Most attacks are carried out against government and military installations but the majority of the victims are civilians. From early 2002 to 2008, security was provided by NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), but now the newly-trained Afghan National Police (ANP) and the Afghan National Army (ANA) are in charge of the area.


Climate chart (explanation)
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: Weather Underground

Kabul has a steppe climate with precipitation concentrated in the winter (in the form of snow) and spring months. Summers are long and warm, with very low humidity. The autumn months of October and November have moderate temperatures and low humidity. Winters are cold but short, lasting from December to March. Spring in Kabul starts in late March and is the wettest part of the year.


Kabul City is one of the 15 districts of Greater Kabul (the province), and is divided into 18 sectors. Each sector covers several neighborhoods of the city. The number of sectors in Kabul increased from 11 to 18 in 2005.

Unlike other cities of the world, Kabul City has two independent councils or administrations at once: Prefecture and Municipality. The Prefect, who is also the Governor of Kabul Province, is appointed by the Ministry of Interior, and is responsible for the administrative and formal issues of the entire province. The Mayor of Kabul City is selected by the President of Afghanistan, who engages in the city's planning and environmental work.

The police and security forces belong to the prefecture and Ministry of Interior. The Chief of Police is selected by the Minister of Interior and is responsible for law enforcement and security of the city.

  • Areas of Kabul City
    • Shahr-e Naw (New City)
    • Wazir Akbar Khan
    • Macrorayon (1, 2, 3 and 4)
    • Khair Khana (1, 2 and 3)
    • Murrad Khani - an old neighborhood in Kabul that used to house the city's upper classes and also served as an entertainment quarter for the likes of the Afghan royalty. It now is a shade of what it used to be, after decades of war and neglect have taken their toll. Many of its remaining structures are threatening to collapse. The Turquoise Mountain Foundation is currently undergoing restoration of this important historical quarter of Kabul.
      Map of Kabul City
    • Dashti Barchi
    • Kartey Sakhi
    • Qalai Wazir
    • Khushhall Khan
    • Afshar
    • Kharabat
    • Klola Pushta and Taimani
    • Kartey Parwan
    • Kartey Naw (New Quarter)
    • Kartey (3 & 4)
    • Darul-Aman
    • Chehlstoon
    • Chendawol
    • Shahr-e Kohna (Old City)
    • Deh Buri
    • Bibi Mahroo


Boys and girls of Kabul dressed in local traditional clothes

Kabul has a population of 2.5 to 3 million or more.[3][4][53] The population of the city reflects the general multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-confessional characteristics of Afghanistan. There is no official government report on the exact ethnic make-up of the city. According to a 2003 estimate by the National Geographic Society and a media report, Persian-speakers form the majority of the city's population with Tajiks being the largest group[54] at approximately 45%, followed by Hazaras at 25%. Pashtuns form another 25%.[55] The remaining 5% include Turkic-speaking Uzbek and Turkmen as well as Aimak, Baloch, Pashai and others.

Nearly all the people of Kabul are Muslim, about 75% Sunnis and 25% Shias. Small number of Sikhs and Hindus are also found in the city. There is at least one Jew in Kabul, whos name is Zablon Simintov.


The domestic terminal of Kabul International Airport

Kabul International Airport, located 16 miles from the center of Kabul, is the country's main airport. It is a hub to Ariana Afghan Airlines, which is the national airlines carrier of Afghanistan. Kam Air, Pamir Airways, and Safi Airways also have their headquarters in Kabul. Airlines from nearby nations such as Pakistan, Iran, India, and several others also make stops at Kabul Airport. A new international terminal was built by the government of Japan and began operation in 2008. The new terminal is the first of three terminals to be opened so far. The other two will open once air traffic to the city increases. Passengers coming from most foreign nations use mostly Dubai for flights to Kabul. Kabul Airport also has a military air base which serves as the main airport for Afghan National Air Corps. NATO also uses the Kabul Airport, but most military traffic is based at Bagram Air Base, just north of Kabul. The Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police are in charge of the airport security. For the year of 2009, the militaries of Hungary and Poland were the operators of the entire airport, paying for the upkeep and protection of the facility, under command of NATO.

Bus service to most major cities of the country is available in Kabul although they are not as safe, especially for foreigners. The city's public buses (Milli Bus / "National Bus") take commuters on daily routes to many destinations. The service currently has approximately 800 buses but is gradually expanding and upgrading with more buses being added. The Kabul bus system has recently discovered a new source of revenue in whole-bus advertising from MTN similar to "bus wrap" advertising on public transit in more developed nations. There is also an express bus that runs from the city center to Kabul International Airport for Safi Airways passengers. There are also yellow taxicabs that can be spotted just about anywhere in and around the city.

Private vehicles are on the rise in Kabul, with Toyota, Nissan, and other dealerships in the city. People are buying new cars as the roads and highways are being improved. Most drivers in Kabul prefer owning a Toyota Corolla due to its popularity in Asia.[4] With the exception of motorcycles many vehicles in the city operate on LPG. Gas stations are mainly private-owned but the fuel comes from Iran. Bikes on the road are a common sight in the city.


GSM/GPRS mobile phone services in the city are provided by Afghan Wireless, Etisalat, Roshan and MTN. In November 2006, the Afghan Ministry of Communications signed a US 64.5 million dollar agreement with a company (ZTE Corporation) on the establishment of a countrywide fibre optical cable network. This will improve telephone, internet, television and radio broadcast services not just in Kabul but throughout the country.[56] Internet was introduced in the city in 2002 and has been expanding rapidly.

There are a number of post offices throughout the city. Package delivery services like FedEx, TNT N.V., and DHL are also available.

The city has many local-language radio stations, including Pashto and Dari, as well as some programs in the English language. The Afghan government has become increasingly intolerant of Indian channels and the un-Islamic culture they bring, and has threatened to ban them.


Kabul's public schools reopened in 2002. The majority of the city's boys and girls are now attending classes. Well-known schools in Kabul include: Ghulam Haider Khan High School; Sultan Razia School; Lycée Esteqlal and Lycée Malalaï (French lycées founded in 1922 and 1932 respectively); Amani High School (a German-Afghan school for boys founded in 1924); Mädchengymnasium Aysha-e Durani (aka Aisha-i-Durani School) and Wirtschaftsgymnasium für Mädchen Jamhuriat (German-Afghan schools for girls); Habibia High School (a British-Afghan school founded in 1904 as Habibya College); and the International School of Kabul.[57][58][59]

The city's colleges and universities were renovated after 2002. Some of them have been developed recently, while others have existed since the early 1900s.

Universities in Kabul

Places of interest

The old part of Kabul is filled with bazaars nestled along its narrow, crooked streets. Cultural sites include the Afghan National Museum, notably displaying an impressive statue of Surya excavated at Khair Khana, the ruined Darul Aman Palace, the Mausoleum of Emperor Babur and Chehlstoon Park, the Minar-i-Istiqlal (Column of Independence) built in 1919 after the Third Afghan War, the mausoleum of Timur Shah Durrani, and the imposing Id Gah Mosque (founded 1893). Bala Hissar is a fort destroyed by the British in 1879, in retaliation for the death of their envoy, now restored as a military college. The Minaret of Chakari, destroyed in 1998, had Buddhist swastika and both Mahayana and Theravada qualities.

Other places of interest include Kabul City Center, which is Kabul's first shopping mall, the shops around Flower Street and Chicken Street, Wazir Akbar Khan district, Babur Gardens, Kabul Golf Club, Kabul Zoo, Shah Do Shamshera and other famous Mosques, the Afghan National Gallery, Afghan National Archive, Afghan Royal Family Mausoleum, the OMAR Mine Museum, Bibi Mahroo Hill, Kabul Cemetery, and Paghman Gardens.

Tappe-i-Maranjan is a nearby hill where Buddhist statues and Graeco-Bactrian coins from the 2nd century BC have been found. Outside the city proper is a citadel and the royal palace. Paghman and Jalalabad are interesting valleys north and east of the city.

Shar-e Naw Park during the winter
Abdul Rahman Mosque during it's construction, which is completed now

Reconstruction and developments

New office building

As of October 2007, there are approximately 16 licensed banks in Kabul: including Da Afghanistan Bank, Afghanistan International Bank, Kabul Bank, Azizi Bank, Pashtany Bank, Afghan United Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Punjab National Bank, Habib Bank and others. Western Union offices are also found in many locations throughout the city, which are mainly used by expatriate Afghans to transfer funds to their families at home.

A small sized indoor shopping mall (Kabul City Center) with a 4-star (Safi Landmark) hotel on the top six floors opened in 2005. A 5-star Serena Hotel also opened in 2005. Another 5-star Marriott Hotel is under construction. The landmark InterContinental Hotel has also been refurbished and is in operation. Modern apartment buildings are also being built across Kabul, as part of the attempt to modernize the city.

An initial concept design called the City of Light Development, envisioned by Dr. Hisham N. Ashkouri, Principal of ARCADD, Inc. for the development and the implementation of a privately based investment enterprise has been proposed for multi-function commercial, historic and cultural development within the limits of the Old City of Kabul along the Southern side of the Kabul River and along Jade Meywand Avenue,[63] revitalizing some of the most commercial and historic districts in the City of Kabul, which contains numerous historic mosques and shrines as well as viable commercial activities among war damaged buildings. Also incorporated in the design is a new complex for the Afghan National Museum. Dr. Ashkouri has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with His Excellency Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad in Washington, DC to undertake this project and to develop it for actual implementation over the next 20 to 25 years. Dr. Ashkouri has presented the City of Light Plan to President Karzai and has received a letter of support from the President and the Minister of Urban Development in support of this project’s development.

The plan for Kabul's nine billion dollar future modern urban development project, the City of Light Development.

About 4 miles (6 km) from downtown Kabul, in Bagrami, a 22-acre (9 ha) wide industrial complex has completed with modern facilities, which will allow companies to operate businesses there. The park has professional management for the daily maintenance of public roads, internal streets, common areas, parking areas, 24 hours perimeter security, access control for vehicles and persons. Another phase with additional 27 acres (11 ha) of land will be added immediately proceeding the first phase.[64]

A $25 million Coca-Cola bottling plant was opened in 2006. Financing was provided by a Dubai-based Afghan family. President Hamid Karzai formally opened the facility in an attempt to attract more foreign investment in the city. In late 2007 the government announced that all the residential houses situated on mountains would be removed within a year so that trees and other plants can be grown on the hills. The plan is to try to make the city greener and provide residents with a more suitable place to live, on a flat surface. Once the plan is implemented it will provide water supply and electricity to each house. All the city roads will also be paved under the plan, which will solve transportation problems.[65]


Numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs), both national and international, are based in Kabul, conducting various activities to assist development in Afghanistan and provide humanitarian relief to the many victims which 30 years of war have produced.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is the largest not-for-profit organization in Afghanistan. It has been involved in most major development projects, including the Serena Hotel, the first five-star hotel in Afghanistan, as well as the restoration of the Bagh-e Babur gardens. AKDN also launched the award-winning Roshan, Afghanistan's leading telecommunications provider. Over 93% of Roshan's staff comprises Afghan nationals, whose average age is 23; many employees only have a high school degree. Over 20% of Roshan's employees are women, and the company has shown that it is committed to promoting women in the workplace.

Afghanistan Information Management Services (AIMS) provides software development, capacity development, information management, and project management services to the Afghan Government and other NGOs, thereby supporting their on-the-ground activities.

The We Are the Future (WAF) Center is a child care center whose aim is to give children a chance to live their childhoods and develop a sense of hope. The center is managed under the direction of the mayor’s office and the international NGO. Glocal Forum serves as the fundraiser, program planner and coordinator for the WAF center. Launched in 2004, the program is the result of a strategic partnership between the Glocal Forum, the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation and Mr. Hani Masri, with the support of the World Bank, UN agencies and major companies.

Notable natives and residents


See also

Further reading


  1. ^ Central Statistics Office of Afghanistan
  2. ^ Pronunciation in English varies, common are /ˈkɑːbəl/, /ˈkɑːbuːl/, and /kəˈbuːl/. See National Review, November 20, 2002, Merriam-Webster: Kabul
  3. ^ a b USAID, Afghanistan
  4. ^ a b c Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Dodgy cars clogging Kabul's roads
  5. ^ http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Kabul_-_Reconstruction/id/594323
  6. ^ Britannica Concise Encyclopedia – Kabul...Link
  7. ^ http://archnet.org/library/documents/one-document.jsp?document_id=9201
  8. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica
  9. ^ The history of Afghanistan, Ghandara.com website
  10. ^ a b c BBC News, Kabul: City of lost glories, November 12, 2001.
  11. ^ "Kabul" Chambers's Encyclopaedia: A Dictionary of Universal Knowledge (1901 edition) J.B. Lippincott Company, NY, page 385
  12. ^ Dupree:The Story of Kabul
  13. ^ Ethnologische Forschungen und Sammlung von Material für dieselben, 1871, p 244, Adolf Bastian - Ethnology.
  14. ^ The People of India: A Series of Photographic Illustrations, with ..., 1868, p 155, John William Kaye, Meadows Taylor, Great Britain India Office - Ethnology.
  15. ^ Supplementary Glossary, p. 304, H. M. Elliot.
  16. ^ Various Census of India, 1867, p 34.
  17. ^ Memoir on Cuneiform Inscription, 1849, p 98, Cuneiform inscriptions; Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 1849, p 98, Henry Creswicke Rawlinson, Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
  18. ^ Alexander’s Invasion, p 38, J.W. McCrindle; Megasthenes and Arrian, p 180, J. W. McCrindle.
  19. ^ Pre-Aryan and Pre-Dravidian in India, 1993 edition, p 100, Sylvain Lévi, Jules Bloch, Jean Przyluski, Asian Educational Services - Indo-Aryan philology.
  20. ^ Some Kṣatriya Tribes of Ancient India, 1924, p 235, Dr B. C. Law - Kshatriyas; Indological Studies, 1950, p 36; Tribes in Ancient India, 1943, p 3.
  21. ^ Chandragupta Maurya and His Times, 1966, p 173, Dr Radhakumud Mookerji - History; Studies in Ancient Hindu Polity: Based on the Arthaṡâstra of Kautilya, 1914, p 40, Narendra Nath Law, Kauṭalya, Radhakumud Mookerji; The Fundamental Unity of India, 2004, p 86; The Fundamental Unity of India (from Hindu Sources), 1914, p 57, Dr Radhakumud Mookerji.
  22. ^ Geographical Dictionary of ancient and Medieval India, Nundo Lal Dey.
  23. ^ The Modern Review, 1907, p 135, Ramananda Chatterjee - India; Literary History of Ancient India in Relation to Its Racial and Linguistic ..., p 165, Chandra Chakraberty; Prācīna Kamboja, jana aura janapada =: Ancient Kamboja, people and country, 1981, Dr Jiyālāla Kāmboja, Dr Satyavrat Śāstrī - Kamboja (Pakistan) etc.
  24. ^ The Ancient Geography of India, p 15, A Cunningham.
  25. ^ Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 43, Dr J. L. Kamboj.
  26. ^ Hill, John E. 2004. The Peoples of the West from the Weilue 魏略 by Yu Huan 魚豢: A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 AD. Draft annotated English translation... Link
  27. ^ Hill (2004), pp. 29, 352-352.
  28. ^ The Shahis of Afghanistan and the Punjab By Deena Bandhu Pandey Published by Historical Research Institute; [sole distributors: Oriental Publishers], 1973 Original from the University of Michigan Page 6
  29. ^ Ganesh: Studies of an Asian God By Robert L. Brown Contributor Robert L. Brown Published by SUNY Press, 1991 Page 50,
  30. ^ The Afghans By Willem Vogelsang Edition: illustrated Published by Wiley-Blackwell, 2002 Page 183 ISBN 0631198415, 9780631198413
  31. ^ Arabic as a minority language By Jonathan Owens Published by Walter de Gruyter, 2000 Page 181 ISBN 3110165783, 9783110165784
  32. ^ Markham, Clements R. (1859). Narrative of the Embassy of Ruy Gonzalez De Clavijo to the Court of Timour, at Samarcand, A.D.1403-6. London: Hakluyt Society, pp.125–126. Full text at Google Books.
  33. ^ Nancy Hatch Dupree at American University of AfghanistanThe Story of Kabul (Mongols)
  34. ^ Agrawal, Ashvini (1983-12-01). Studies in Mughal History. Motilal Banarsidass Publisher. ISBN 81-208-2326-5. 
  35. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica – The Durrani dynasty (from Afghanistan)...Link
  36. ^ Anthony Hyman, “Nationalism in Afghanistan” in International Journal of Middle East Studies, 34:2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002) 305.
  37. ^ a b Hyman, 305.
  38. ^ Nick Cullather, “Damming Afghanistan: Modernization in a Buffer State” in The Journal of American History 89:2 (Indiana: Organization of American Historians, 2002) 518.
  39. ^ Cullather, 518.
  40. ^ a b Cullather, 519.
  41. ^ Cullather, 530.
  42. ^ a b Cullather, 534.
  43. ^ Hyman, “Nationalism in Afghanistan”, 307.
  44. ^ John E. Haynes, “Keeping Cool About Kabul” in World Affairs, 145:4 (Washington DC: Heldref Publications, 1983), 371.
  45. ^ Cullather, “Damming Afghanistan”, 528.
  46. ^ Haynes, “Keeping Cool About Kabul”, 371.
  47. ^ a b c Haynes, 372.
  48. ^ a b c Haynes, 373.
  49. ^ Haynes, 374.
  50. ^ Nazif M Shahrani, “War, Factionalism and the State in Afghanistan” in American Anthropologist 104:3 (Arlington, VA: American Anthropological Association, 2008), 719.
  51. ^ Sidky, “War, Changing Patterns of Warfare, State Collapse, and Transnational Violence in Afghanistan: 1978–2001”, 870.
  52. ^ Steve Coll, Ghost Wars (New York: Penguin, 2005), 14.
  53. ^ Cole, Juan (2006-05-30). "Kabul under Curfew after Anti-US, anti-Karzai Riots". San Francisco Bay Area Indymedia. http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/05/30/18259841.php. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  54. ^ http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0311/feature2/images/mp_download.2.pdf
  55. ^ Pajhwok Afghan News – Ministry signs contract with Chinese company...Link
  56. ^ D’Afghanistan, Leylâ (2003). "La genèse du droit de la femme en Afghanistan" (in French). Les Cahiers du Cremoc (Paris: CREMOC (Centre de recherche sur l'Europe et le monde contemporain)) (nr. 36). http://www.cremoc.org/articles/afgfem.pdf. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  57. ^ "Förderverein Amani Oberrealschule Kabul" (in German). F.A.O.K.. http://www.amani-ors-kabul.com. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  58. ^ "Offizielle Homepage der Amani Oberrealschule Kabul" (in German). Kabul: Amani Oberrealschule Kabul. http://amani.get-concept.de/. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  59. ^ http://www.lmhotelgroup.com/Lmhotelgroup/safihome.asp
  60. ^ http://www.goldenstarkabul.com
  61. ^ http://www.heetal.com
  62. ^ Kabul - City of Light Project...link
  63. ^ Afghanistan Industrial Parks Development Authority...Kabul (Bagrami)
  64. ^ Pajhwok Afghan News, Kabul beautification plan announced (December 17, 2007)


  • Hill, John E. (2009). Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries CE. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

An overview of Kabul during the cold winter.
An overview of Kabul during the cold winter.

Kabul has been the capital of Afghanistan since about 1776. The city has been badly damaged during the various 1979–2001 wars, particularly its western parts. Kabul is currently going through a period of renovation and development, with some modern style tower blocks and a handful of glitzy shopping malls appearing over the last few years. However, roads and other infrastructure remain in poor condition, and electricity is spotty even in the downtown areas.



The city is believed to have been founded between 2000-1500BC. It is mentioned in Hindu's sacred Rigveda text (ca.1700-1100BC) as a vision of paradise set in the mountains. It was an important center of Zoroastrianism and later Buddhism. The city remained of little importance for much of the first three millenia of its existence. It was controlled variously by: the Persians, Alexander the Great, the Seleucid Empire, the Mauryan Empire, the Bactrians, various Hellenistic kingdoms, the Sassanid Empire, and by the 5th century AD was its own kingdom known as Kabul-Shahan. This last kingdom before the Islamic conquest built a large wall to protect the city from invasion when the Arabs arrived at the edge of the kingdom; parts of the wall have survived to this day and are visible above ground within the city.

In 871 Kabul fell to the Islamic invasion (nearly 200 years after invading Muslims reached modern-day Afghanistan). The Kabulistan empire was formed covering much of modern-day Afghanistan and parts of western modern-day Pakistan. The city once again passed uneventfully through the hands of several empires, including the Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Timurids, Mughols, Durranis, and the Barakzais, before conquest by the Mongols in the 13th century. The famous Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta visited the city in 1344, noting:

"We travelled on to Kabul, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a village inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans."

Under the rule of Tamerlane in the 14th century, the city developed into a regional center of trade. In 1504, the city was captured by the Mughal emporer Babur.

Babur Gardens (ca. 1528 AD) is the final resting place of the first Mughal emperor, Babur.
Babur Gardens (ca. 1528 AD) is the final resting place of the first Mughal emperor, Babur.

In 1747, Kabul came under control of the Durrani (or Afhghan) Empire. In 1776, Kabul would become the empire's capital, although the empire soon fell into tribal civil war. In 1839, the region was claimed by the British and Kabul was established as the location of British government and the British Indian Forces. They were very unpopular amongst local tribes and in 1841, they began a revolt. Within a few days, a series of events led to the massacre of all but one of the 16,000 occupying British and Indian civilians and soldiers withing miles of Kabul as they attempted to flee to Jalalabad, a famous blunder known as the Massacre of Elphinstone's Army. The British returned in 1878 and 1879, but were both times thousands of them were killed and they were forced to retreat.

In the early 20th century, electricity was introduced to the city and the Darul Aman palace was constructed for the royal family. The 1930s-60s were good times in Kabul. Kabul University was opened; the roads were paved; modern shops, offices, & schools were opened; shopping centers and a cinema were opened; and the Kabul Zoo opened. The city also saw a vibrant tourism industry appear, largely due to the Istanbul-New Delhi "Hippie Trail" which passed through Kabul in the 1960s-70s.

The 1970s-80s brought a turn for the worst. The city hosted two coups, in 1973 & 1978. The second coup was carried out by the Marxist PDPA, which a year later invited the Soviet Union military to maintain their power over the country. From 1979-1989, the Soviet Union maintained headquarters for military and government in Kabul. After the Soviets left, the government collapsed in 1992 and left local warlords to fight over the city leaving tens of thousands dead and (according to the UN) 90% of the city's buildings destroyed. By 1994, the city was without electricity or water. In 1996, the political movement known as the Taliban captured the city, publicly hanging the former (pre-1992) president and imposing notoriously strict Islamic rule over the country.

Kabul City Center, the country's first modern shopping center, is one of the many modern projects in Kabul resulting from post-invasion foreign investment.
Kabul City Center, the country's first modern shopping center, is one of the many modern projects in Kabul resulting from post-invasion foreign investment.

A United States led military force invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, bombing strategic installations throughout the city to rout out the governing Taliban, who quickly fled the city. The city was named the capital of the Afghan Transitional Authority and subsequently the capital of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The city saw many suicide bombings between 2002-2007, but they have become rare since 2008. In late 2008, control of the city's security was passed from the NATO ISAF force to Afghan National Police and the Afghan National Army. Since 2001, billions of dollars in aid and foreign investment have been used to improve the city. Most of the major roads have been paved and improved, government building have been extensively renovated, new hotels and shopping malls have opened, the zoo and many museums have reopened, and utilities have been extensively reconstructed.


Kabul's climate is greatly influenced by its location in a valley at 1800m (5900ft). Summers (June-Sept) are hot and dry, averaging from the high 20s to the mid-30s (80-95F) with next to no precipitation. Autumn (Oct & Nov) is temperate and sees very little precipitation. Winters (Dec-Mar) are cold and the time of year which sees the most precipitation (mostly snow, but also ice, freezing rain, and sleet on warmer days). January is the coldest month, averaging 4/-7 (39/19F). Spring (late Mar-early June) is temperate with lots of rain tapering off by early May.

Keep in mind that the city lies in a valley and some villages on the edge of the city are a few hundred meters higher and thus cooler in the summer and colder and snowier in the winters. Many roads leading to/from the city are regularly blocked by high snowfall in winter(although the city's importance to the US presence means they will be cleared relatively quickly), the most notorious is the highway north towards Konduz.

Map of Kabul, from early 1980's.
Map of Kabul, from early 1980's.

The city of Kabul is divided into 18 sectors, with each sectors consisting of a handful of adjacent neighborhoods.

Get in

By plane

Kabul International Airport (IATA: KBL), +93 9251-61001, is a short drive east of the city center. The new international terminal is now fully open, whilst the old terminal is now used for domestic flights. The airport is a hub for Ariana Afghan Airways, Kam Air, Safi Airways, & Pamir Airways. Airport facilities include banks, restaurants, post office and car parking (all very basic).


Foreigners will need to get a foreigner registration card - after immigration go to the room with the sign 'duty free' behind the baggage carousel and complete the form - if you have 2 passport photos with you then you can complete the registration there. Otherwise you'll have to finish your registration at the Ministry of Interior later (a major hassle - best to make sure you have those photos).

When arriving taxis are available to the city center, but it is safer to meet someone whom you know. Alternatively, Afghan Logistics (+93-777 443311, see below in Get Around) and the other taxi firms offer an airport pick-up for about $25.


The Foreigner Registration card is taken off you when you exit Afghanistan, and a big fine / bribe is required if you haven't got it when you fly out. The registration card is free. Some people feel it necessary to 'tip' everyone at the airport when flying out, but tip one guy for putting your bag through the x-ray scanner and everyone will be on you for their share. A polite 'no thank you' usually suffices.

When flying out you will probably end up in Car Park C - and will have to get the shuttle bus to the terminal building. When flying out expect long queues and multiple ticket / passport / baggage checks, although things are now much better with the new terminal, principally because there is much more space.

Passengers boarding plane at Kabul Airport.
Passengers boarding plane at Kabul Airport.

International carriers and destinations include include:

  • Ariana Afghan Airlines [1] – to Ankara, Baku, Delhi, Dubai, Dushanbe, Frankfurt, Islamabad, Istanbul-Atatürk, Jeddah, Moscow-Sheremetyevo, Riyadh, Sharjah, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, & Ürümqi.
  • Safi Airways [2] – flies to Dubai, Frankfurt, & Kuwait City.
  • Kam Air [3] – to Almaty, Delhi, Dubai, Dushanbe, Islamabad, Mashhad, Peshawar, & Urumqi.
  • Pamir Airways [4] – to Delhi & Dubai.
  • Air India [5] to Delhi.
  • Pakistan International Airways [6] – to Islamabad & Peshawar.


While Kabul International Airport is not bad for a third world country, expect very basic conditions at other Afghan airports. As of November 2009:

  • Ariana Afghan Airlines to Herat, Kandahar, & Mazar-e-Sharif.
  • Kam Air to Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif, & Tarin Kowt.
  • Pamir Airways to Faizabad & Herat.
  • Safi Airways to Herat,Kandahar, & Mazar-e-Sharif.
  • The highway from Kandahar has been rebuilt, but travelling on it is very dangerous because of the Taliban.
  • The highway from Mazar-e Sharif and the North via the Salang Pass is open, although one has to be careful travelling on it during the winter months.
  • The newly rebuilt highway from Jalalabad is open which has reduced the journey time to 2-3 hours, however since 2008 the security on this road has deteriorated considerably.
  • From Bamiyan it is advisable to take the longer northern route, as the southern route (through Wardak province) is of questionable safety.

By bus

Private operators serve most destinations in fairly comfortable Mercedes buses. Safety can be a problem, with frequent accidents.

Get around

By bus

There is the Millie Bus which operates many routes around Kabul, but it is faster and more comfortable to use taxis. Some buses are relatively new, but many are old as one might expect in a 3rd world country.

By taxi

Taxis are plentiful and to hire the whole car should cost around 30 to 50 Afg depending on destination and bargaining skills. Some drivers have learned basic English, but such drivers may try to charge a slightly higher price and are most likely to be found loitering near Westerner-friendly locations (airport, major hotels). While the city is fairly safe, it isn't a bad idea to be proactive and avoid catching a taxi near any sensitive location (embassy, military facilities, 5-star hotels).

  • Afghan Logistics & Tours [7] 700 277 408, 700 288 668, 700 479 435, 799 391 462. Catering mostly to expats they are probably the safest way to get around town. 24 hour minicabs are available as well as airport pickups and dropoffs. $5-7 around town, $15 to airport, $20 from airport.

By car

There are only a couple places to rent a car in Kabul, one of which is:

  • Afghan Logistics & Tours [8] 700 277 408, 700 288 668, 700 479 435, 799 391 462. Rents late-model Toyota cars, SUVs, trucks, & minivans along with a driver who doubles as a mechanic (very important on Afghanistan's harsh roads).
Inside the Afghan National Museum in 2005.
Inside the Afghan National Museum in 2005.
  • Afghan National Museum, (several miles from the city center, across from Darulaman Palace). 10am-4pm weekdays, 10am-1pm Fridays. The Afghan National Museum once housed one of the greatest collections of Central Asian artifacts in the world. A large percentage of the previous collection was looted in the 1990s during Taliban rule after the upper floors of the museum were bombed. Many of the early Buddhist treasures were destroyed by the Taliban at the same time as the Bamiyan Buddhas. Looted items still turn up around the world at auctions. The museum is open once again, with far more modest, but still impressive, displays of early Buddhist and Islamic artifacts. free, donations welcome.  edit
  • Bagh-e Babur (Babur Gardens). The gardens surround the tomb of the first Mughal Emperor Babur. Though he had wished to be buried here, he was originally buried in Agra, and later moved to this spot. It's a popular park with Afghans for picnics and lazy afternoons. 10 Af for locals, 250 Af for foreigners.  edit
  • Bagh-e Zanana (Women Park). A park and market for women only. It was designed as a place where women could sell their own products and merchandise directly, which cannot be done in areas where men do business, because women in Afghanistan are not supposed to deal directly with men who are not relatives. This park was created as an outlet for these women to sell their goods with respect to their culture. The park is also a nice place for female travellers to enjoy the outdoors.  edit
The destroyed and abandoned Darul Aman Palace
The destroyed and abandoned Darul Aman Palace
  • Darul Aman Palace. Originally built as King Amanullah's Palace in the 1920s, it has been destroyed and rebuilt a few times over. Plans were unveiled a few years ago to renovate it once again although it is still in a state of crumbling disrepair on the verge of collapsing. Afs 200 or so bakshesh to look around inside the ruins.  edit
  • Bagh-e Bala. Built in the late 19th century, it served as a summer palace for Amir Abdur Rahman. Today, much of the original interior has been preserved, and the area around the palace has become a large park.  edit
  • Kabul Zoo. 6AM-6PM daily. The zoo is very popular with Afghans, and houses over 100 animals, albeit in relatively poor condition. China was once one of the main donors of animals in the zoo, but after the death of a few animals to disease and malnutrition, China has announced that there will be no donations until living conditions improve. 'Marjan' the lion, which was blinded by a grenade, was the main draw of the zoo, but has died recently. 10 Af for locals, 100 Af for foreigners.  edit
  • Daoud Kahn memorial, Up the hill behind Darul Aman Palace. On June 28, 2008, the body of President Daoud and those of his family were found in two separate mass graves in the Pul-e-Charkhi area, District 12 of Kabul city. There is now a small memorial to the deceased on a small hill, offering nice views over southern Kabul.  edit
Lake Qargha at the outskirts of Kabul City.
Lake Qargha at the outskirts of Kabul City.
  • Lake Qargha. described as Kabul's lake district, only 9km from the city. Spojmai restaurant provides international cuisine. Swimming and boating are popular on the lake with plans for water skiing and jet-skis in the future.  edit
  • British Cemetery.. Where foreigners are buried in Kabul. There are also Memorial plaques commemorating those ISAF forces killed during the last few years.  edit
  • Afghan National Gallery, Asamayi Watt (34°31'2.94N, 69°10'15.97E). 8am-ish to 4pm-ish, closed Fridays, and you may struggle to be allowed in on Thursday afternoons. A beautiful gallery in a charming old Kabul house that has been carefully restored. The collection used to have some 820 paintings and portraits but 50% have been looted or destroyed; the director said the Taliban destroyed 210 portraits. Most of the collection is of European and Afghan landscapes and portraits of famous Afghan writers and kings and a portrait of the French writer Victor Hugo. Well worth making the effort to see. The Sultani Gallery is attached, but the opening hours are a mystery. Afs 250.  edit
  • Kabul Wall. A pleasant hike with rewarding views over the city. The Kabul City Wall is still is pretty good condition, running west-east from Babar Gardens over to Bala Hissar (about 3 km in distance).  edit
  • Kabul Golf Club, Qargha Road, +93 79 22 63 27, [9]. Closed down in 1978 by the Soviet Union, it reopened in 2004 after a 25 year hiatus. This 9-hole course bills itself as "extreme golf with an attitude". Af 750/$15 greens fee for 9 or 18 holes, or Af15,000/$300 yearly.  edit
  • Ariana Cinema, Pashtunistan Square. Primarily shows Bollywood or trashy action flicks, and the occasional American blockbuster.  edit
  • Olympic Stadium. Home of the Afghan cricket team. Notorious as the location where the Taliban carried out their public punishments on those who violated their laws. Just past the stadium is the mine museum as well as a road up the hill where you will find hundreds of Afghan men and boys flying kites on holidays.  edit
  • Amani High School sports field. Open to the public on Tuesday afternoons and Fridays - football (soccer) with local Afghan guys, frisbee (with a collection of expats) and a 400 metre running track in comparatively green and pleasant surroundings. Free.  edit
  • Swim. There are a few swimming pools in the city. The nicest is probably at the Serena, but is a steep $30 to use. UNICA club's swimming pool ($5) is very popular, esp. on Fridays, when there is probably as much catwalking as swimming going on. Internationals (aka Maple Leaf) has a large and often empty pool ($7) but it is in a plastic shed rather than outdoors. L'atmosphere also has a pool, again popular on Fridays. Except in private or foreigner-only places, women should not wear anything skimpy (especially bikinis).  edit
Shah M Books, setting for The Bookseller of Kabul
Shah M Books, setting for The Bookseller of Kabul

The Share-e Naw area has some shops.

  • The Kabul City Center, next to the park, has some very smart shops.
  • Roshan Plaza has some quite respectable clothes shops.
  • Chicken Street is famed for its tourist fare (carpets, carvings, knives etc) and pirated CD/DVD's.
  • Chelsea Supermarket sells many types of western foods and products.
  • Supreme Supermarket on the Jalalabad road (near the British military base) has western products, but currently no alcohol is available. It is not open to Afghans. A little further down the road is Ciano, an Italian commissary. There is frequently a security alert on the Jalalabad road.
  • Spinneys Seems to cater to NGO's Can buy most western products and food. They had turkeys available for christmas this year. Also a lot of holiday fixings.
  • Shah M Book Co, (across from Mustafa Hotel). The best bookstore in the city, it's the place to head for your next novel, and also has a good selection of coffee table books and books about Afghanistan. The owner was the subject for the recent book The Bookseller of Kabul. Prices are high, but you'll appreciate his selection.  edit


A few ATMs that accept international cards are scattered around the city, and most dispense both Afghanis and dollars. However, credit cards are unlikely to work or be accepted anywhere in the city, save a couple of the top end hotels.

  • Standard Chartered Bank [10] is in Wazir Akbar Khan.
  • Afghanistan International Bank (AIB) [11] has a few machines around Kabul, including one inside the Kabul City Center shopping mall. They dispense in US dollars and Afghanis, however they are often reluctant to part with any cash and sometimes dispense old, ripped notes.
  • Kabul Bank [12] has many branches in the city.
  • Azizi Bank [13] has many branches in the city.
  • Western Union [14] has many branches across the city.
  • Money Changers – some prefer to exchange their dollars for Afghanis through the local money changers that stand on the road. There is no fee to exchange money this way, but make sure you know the rough exchange rate before attempting this.
The Cafe inside Kabul City Center.
The Cafe inside Kabul City Center.
A street food stall in Old Kabul.
A street food stall in Old Kabul.
  • Cafe in the basement of Kabul City Center, Share-e Naw. Burger and banana drink for less than $3.
  • Peshawar Kebab Shop, (Shash Darak). 11am-6pm. A great local place for a tasty lunch. They only serve one type of food (Pakistani style flat chapli kebabs) but they do it well and it will only set you back Afs 100 or so. 34°31'33.95N , 69°11'28.41E (34°31'33.95N,69°11'28.41E) edit
  • Shar-e-now Burgers, Shar-e-now, opposite the Shar-e-now park, +93 799-300797, +93 70-255788. 10AM-10PM. Fast Food cuisine, English menu. Phone orders available.  edit
  • Everest Pizza, 13 Str.Wazir Akbar Khan, +93 799-317979, +93 70-263636. 9AM-9PM. Fast Food cuisine, English menu. Phone orders/ home delivery available.  edit
  • Afghan Fried Chicken clean westernized fast-food restaurant in Kabul City.
  • Street stalls abound, and good ones can be found around Shahr-e Naw Park and near the Pul-e Khisti bridge in the old town. However, the hygiene is questionable particularly in the summer.


The vast numbers of foreigners in Kabul has lead to the city being perhaps the best place to eat in the region, and in the mid-range bracket there are dozens of good places to eat for $15-$25 per person for an evening meal.

  • Afghan International Pizza Express, Darulaman Road (near Ministry of Commerce and Ariana TV), +93 700 383 918. Good pizza. Destroyed during the May 2006 riots, but has since been rebuilt and has a new chef.  edit
  • Anaar Restaurant & Bar, Crossing of St 14, Lane 3, Wazir Akbar Khan (Between Wazir Akbar Khan circle and Heetal Plaza Hotel, towards end of St 14), +93 700 284 315 (). 10AM-10PM. UN Security Clearance. Great Indian and Asian Cuisine. English Menu, English Speaking Staff. Phone Orders - Carry Out and Delivery Available.  edit
  • L’Atmosphere Restaurant, Str.4, Qala-e- fatullah, +93 799-300264, +93 700-224982. 10AM-10PM. French cuisine, French and English menu. Phone orders available. Garden dining and swimming pool. Closed on Sundays.  edit
  • B’s Place Restaurant (Guest House), Str.2, Qala-e- fatullah House No.3, +93 70-276416, +93 70-276711. 11AM–11PM. Italian and Mexican cuisine, English menu. Phone orders available.  edit
  • La Cantina, (East of Shar-e Nau park, about 1 block from Assa II Guesthouse), +93 798 27 19 15 (), [15]. Tu-W 6-10PM, Th-Su 12-3PM & 6-10PM, M closed. Surely the most far-flung Mexican restaurant on the globe, serving up burritos, enchiladas, nachos and other Mexican standards. Mains Af 350-550.  edit
  • Carlito's Restaurant & Bar, Str 15 Wazir Ak Khan, +93 799-159697, +93 799-167824. 10AM-10PM. Mexican cuisine, English Menu. No phone orders/home delivery  edit
  • Cafe du Pelican, Daraluman Road (on the west side of the road, look for an orange gaurd box and landcruisers parked outside). closes at 5pm. Closed between 11 July & September 2009. Newly opened and run by a french couple - good french cafe food, and a bakery also.  edit
  • Chief Burger, Shahre Naw (In front of Park Cinema). 8-midnight. This restaurant provides fast food; Burger, Pizzas etc...</drink> * Delhi Darbar, Cinema Zainab Rd, Share-e Naw (between the park and Flower St), +93 799 324 899, [16]. Great Indian food including a $6 thali. Indoor seating is intimate and spread through 3 rooms, or sit outside in the spacious garden.  edit  edit
  • Escalades Restaurant, Macroian2, Matba block 104, +93 799-473763. 10AM–10PM. European cuisine, English menu. No phone hours/home delivery.  edit
  • Golden Key, No 284, Lane 4, Wazir Akbar Khan, (4th Turning on the left off St 13), +93 799-002800, +93 799-343319, [17]. 10AM–11PM. Chinese seafood restaurant. Garden dining in the summer, Sheesha, Karaoke and English breakfast on Fridays. Phone orders for take away and home delivery.  edit
  • The Grill Restaurant, Street 15, Wazir Akbar Khan (on junction near British embassy). Lebanese food.  edit
  • Hong Kong Restaurant, Wazir Akbar Khan (near Pakistani embassy). Good Chinese food & better. (Ask around to know what I mean.  edit
  • Istanbul Restaurant, Macroian2, Matba block 104, +93 70-200116, +93 799-356282. 8AM–9PM. Turkish cuisine, English menu. Phone orders available.  edit
  • Kulba Afghan, Shar-e-now, Esmat Moslim Str. 3rd floor, +93 799452151, +93 70034979. 10AM–9PM. Afghan and Italian cuisine, English menu. No phone orders/home delivery.  edit
  • Mai Thai Restaurant, Str15 Wazir Ak Khan House No.124, +93 70-297557, +93 70-278640. 11AM–9PM. Thai cuisine, English menu and English speaking staff. No phone orders/home delivery. The reincarnation of Lai Thai. Inside i very nice, and you can sit outside if you'd like. Park outside on the dirt road. Good prices too.  edit
  • New World Korean Restuarant, Charyi Ansari (Shar-e Now), 0799-199509. until 9pm. Now moved to a new location, but the food is still excellent quality. Good selection of Korean favourites, including excellent kimbab (Korean sushi).  edit
  • Pamir Restaurant, Bagh-e Bala road (at the Intercontinental Hotel), +93 20 2201321. Offers an excellent and cheap buffet.  edit
  • Park Residence Hotel. Provides a good Afghan buffet.  edit
  • Popolano Italian Restaurant, Charahi Ansari, Share-e Naw, +93 70-288116. 9AM-10PM. English menu, good pizza and pastas. Phone orders available.  edit
  • The Springfield Restaurant & Bar, Wazir Akbar Khan. Offers pizza and assorted Italian / Western fare, and has a weekly quiz night on Mondays.  edit
  • Sufi Afghan Restaurant, near the Intercontinental Hotel, [18].  edit
  • Taverna du Liban, Street 14, Lane 3, Wazir Akbar Khan, +93 799 828 376. Excellent Lebanese restaurant.  edit
  • Boccaccio Restaurant & Bar, Str 10 Wazir Ak khan (same street as Everest Pizza), +93 799-160368. 10AM–10PM. European and Italian cuisine, English menu. No phone orders/home delivery. Expensive, but the food is some of the best in Kabul.  edit
  • Café Zarnegar, Froshgah Street (in the Kabul Serena Hotel), +93 79 9654 000, [19]. 6:30AM-10PM daily, F brunch 11AM-4PM. Tasty high-end international food and nice atmosphere, one of the nicest restaurants in the city. Their large buffet is probably the best in the country. Mains $15-20.  edit
  • Silk Route Restaurant, Froshgah Street (in the Kabul Serena Hotel), +93 79 9654 000, [20]. 6-10PM daily. Specializes in South-east Asian food, in a luxurious atmosphere. $15-20.  edit
  • Gandamack Lodge, Sherpur Square, next to the UNHCR, [21]. One of Kabul's classiest establishments serving a varied menu in a nice atmosphere. Alcohol is very expensive, even by Afghan standards, but that can be forgiven given the fairly reasonable food prices.  edit


Despite being illegal, alcohol is pretty easy to find in Kabul's expat restaurants - buying your own supply involves befriending someone working at an embassy or military base, or dipping into the murky world of expat black-marketeering. Beer and spirits are available at UNICA, but the selection is slim.


Kabul is not a cheap place to stay - principally due to the costs of running a generator and providing security. The hotels are good if you are just passing through, however for long term stays opting for a guest house is more popular. There are several in Wazir Akbar Khan and Shar-i-Naw - often in huge Pakistani style mansions.

  • Mustafa Hotel [22]. Has a restaurant, Internet cafe and billiards. Single rooms from $30/night.
  • Salsal Guesthouse, Zarghona Maidan, Shar-e Naw Park, (located between the park and the Chelsea Supermarket, and is signed in English), +93 (0) 799 734 202. Reasonably clean, shared bathrooms, friendly manager (Bashir) speaks English. Single rooms from $10/night, includes cable TV and a fan. Double rooms from $20/night.
  • Ajmal Wali International (Guest House), St 13 Wazer Akbar Khan House #367 (near the Bebe Mahro Park), +93 700285843. Nice, quite, and relaxing place. $ 45.  edit
  • Le Monde Guest House Kabul, 7 Herati Mosque Street, Shar-e Naw Park, and Flower street.
  • Park Residence Hotel, Ansari Square, Shahr-e Naw Park, +93 799 373 780, reasonable rooms with cable TV and Internet access. Internet cafe is now shifted inside the hotel near the reception (this was the site of the 2005 internet cafe suicide bombing). Single, double and triple rooms from $55/night including breakfast. Dinner buffet is $6.
  • UNICA Guest House, Shar-i-Naw, Ansari Wat. Rooms starting at $25 per night--majority of rooms are $48 and $50. Facility is nice by Kabul standards and includes nice common gardens, swimming pool and Bar. Dinner buffet is $6.
  • Petra Guest House, House 1036, Lane 4 left, Street 15, Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul. Ph: +93 788411482. Better than average guesthouse popular with UN staff. Little garden with water feature and peacocks!
Kabul Serena Hotel
Kabul Serena Hotel
  • Kabul Serena Hotel [23]. Undoubtedly the best hotel in the city, a clean and modern 5-star hotel with 3 great restaurants. Rooms from $250/night. The hotel was attacked in January 2008, when a large explosion killed at least 7 people.... the Taliban claimed responsibility. The hotel has since multiplied its security.
  • Golden Star Hotel [24]. A clean and modern 4-star hotel, with restaurant, conference hall, a small gym, and high speed internet in each room. US$80 a night.
  • Heetal Plaza Hotel, Street 14, Wazir Akbar Khan, +93 799 167 824, [25]. A nice, quiet, relaxing and cozy place. The restaurant is awful however. Single rooms from Af 5000/$110.
A night view at the Kabul InterContinental Hotel in 2005.
A night view at the Kabul InterContinental Hotel in 2005.
  • Intercontinental Hotel, Bagh-e Bala Rd, +93 20 220 1321, [26]. A great 5-star hotel with nice restaurants and a swimming pool. Single room from $90/night.
  • Safi Landmark Hotel & Suites, Shar-e Naw Park (top 6 floors of the Kabul City Center shopping mall), +93 20 220 3131, [27]. Large conference hall, restaurant and gym area, apartments also available. Single room from $80/night.
  • There are numerous internet cafes around the city, so getting access should not be too hard.
  • Assa II Net Cafe, Muslim St. On the ground floor of Assa II Guesthouse, they have several computers with semi-reliable connections. 25 Afs. or $1 per hour.

Kabul Coffee House and Flower Street Cafe both have wireless internet for customers.

  • The cellular telephone system in Kabul is excellent. American and European phones do work on the local system.
  • Roshan Shop, Street # 13, Wazir Akbar Khan (off Main Street), +93 79 997 1333.  edit
Travel Warning

WARNING: While Kabul is fairly safe, sudden changes can occur in the security situation. Consult your country's embassy in Kabul and monitor US Dept. of State & UK FCO travel warnings throughout the planning an duration of your trip/stay, but do keep in mind they often exaggerate threats.

Kabul is generally considered one of the safer parts of the country, and while bombings and kidnappings have waned considerably (as of Nov. 2009), they do remain a small threat. That said, there are tens of thousands of expats and visitors to the city and considering that only a small handful have been victims of such attacks, you should be vigilent but not afraid. Avoid walking after dark, don't loiter in hotel lobbies, and (for long stays and expats), vary your routes and timings daily. Riots happen occasionally and are often accompanied by looting -- stay well away from them as authorities will respond with lethal force.


Read the Scene magazine for restaurant reviews and all sorts of useful info. It is free, although street sellers may charge for it. There are many FM radio stations. However, the only widely available English language broadcast is from the BBC World Service on 101.6MHz. Tolo TV is perhaps the most popular TV station.

  • Canada, Street No. 15, House No. 256 Wazir Akbar Khan Kabul, Afghanistan, (011 93 (0) 799) 742-800 (), [28].  edit
  • United States, Great Massoud (Airport) Road, +93-(0)700-10-8001, for after-hours emergencies call +93-(0)700-201-908 (fax: +93-(0)700-108-564), [29]. 8:00-16:30 Sunday-Thursday.  edit

Get out

Most expats take any opportunity they can to leave Kabul. Istalif in a side valley of the Shamali Plain makes for an excellent overnight or day trip destination. A day trip to the north (Shamali Plain, Salang Pass, Panjshir Valley and Jabal os Saraj), Qargha Reservoir to the west of Kabul etc.

You can fly to Dubai, Dushanbe or Delhi for the weekend also.

This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions, arrival and departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:


See also kabul, and Kábul



Proper noun


  1. The capital of Afghanistan.

Derived terms



  • Anagrams of abklu
  • baulk


Proper noun

Kabul m.

  1. Kabul


Proper noun


  1. Kabul



  • IPA: /ˈkabul/

Proper noun

Kabul m.

  1. Kabul


Singular only
Nominative Kabul
Genitive Kabulu
Dative Kabulowi
Accusative Kabul
Instrumental Kabulem
Locative Kabulu
Vocative Kabulu

Derived terms

  • kabulczyk m., kabulka f.
  • adjective: kabulski


Proper noun

Kabul m.

  1. Kabul

Cyrillic spelling

Simple English

City center of Kabul
Coordinates: 34°31′59″N 69°09′58″E / 34.53306°N 69.16611°E / 34.53306; 69.16611
Country Afghanistan
Province Kabul Province
Population (2008)
 Metro 2,850,000

Kabul is the capital and the largest city in Afghanistan with about 3 million people living there. It is 1,800 meters, or 5,900 feet above-sea-level. Kabul is over 3,000 years old.


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