Afghan palace restoration: From icon of war to symbol of peace? (video)

Why We Wrote This

In the two decades Scott has reported from Afghanistan, this shelled-out palace has belied its name: the “Abode of Peace.” But it’s being rebuilt as Afghans hope their country, like the palace, has brighter days ahead.

Few buildings are as iconic to a nation – or have been in such need of repair – as the war-ravaged Darulaman Palace is here. First conceived in the 1920s as an architectural example of Afghanistan’s entry into the modern world, the imposing building, which sits atop a hill in western Kabul, has instead belied its name, “Abode of Peace,” for the last 40 years. It has been ravaged by fires and war, its fine lines and features slowly eroded by bullets and shells, as the country faced turmoil during the Soviet occupation of the 1980s, battles between warlords, Taliban rule and neglect, and finally the U.S. occupation and subsequent civil war, starting in 2001. Throughout those decades, the palace became the symbol of a nation at war. Its elegant domes became merely rounded, crumbling metal frames. Its tall windows became broken apertures into the dark shadows of Afghanistan’s once-hopeful past. But today, Afghan workers have rebuilt the palace – as a symbol they hope will reflect a revitalized country that may again, soon, taste peace.

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