Darul Aman, “the dwelling-place of peace,” sits in ruins outside Kabul, Afghanistan, a crumbling symbol of what was once supposed to be the modern future of the country.
Amanullah Khan, ruler of Afghanistan between 1919 and 1929, ordered the construction of the impressive structure, intending the palace to be the centerpiece of a new capital city in the country. The city was to be a gleaming, European-style settlement, rising up from the plains with the palace as the crown jewel.
Needless to say, the city was never built and the palace never came into its own. The conservative rulers who deposed Amanullah Khan scorned his plans and his reforms, leaving Darul Aman to rot. Set on fire in the 1970’s, shelled by mujahideen in the 1990’s, and targeted by the Taliban in 2012, the palace, once a symbol of optimism and change, was repeatedly brutalized.
Still standing today, Darul Aman is now a crumbling ruin. A plan to restore it has so far come to nothing but its walls still contain the last century of Afghan history: the grandeur of its ambitions, the depth of its bloodshed and violence, an ultimately a monument to the improbable resilience of hope.