A Nation's Pride
An All-Afghan Team Is Restoring A War-Torn Palace
“People will see us rebuilding it, and they will get hopeful about the future of Afghanistan.”
—Masouma Delijam, senior architect, to The New York Times
TOP PHOTO BY AURORA PHOTOS / ALAMY STOCK
The Darul Aman Palace stands in defiance of Afghanistan's decades of war—barely. Pockmarked by fire, shellings and bullet holes, the battered structure is a symbol of survival. Now, an all-Afghan project team hopes to revive it. “Today, we witness returning to the past while building a foundation for the future,” President Ashraf Ghani said while inaugurating the reconstruction in 2016.
The project to restore the palace, which stands 107 feet (32.6 meters) high, began simply enough: clearing out 600 tons of debris, including bullet and artillery casings. A foreign company bid US$1 million for the cleanup work, but the Afghan team was able to complete it for US$30,000.
Before destruction, circa 1930s
The Afghans-only approach hasn't been without challenges, though. Administrative errors delayed workers’ pay at one point, and the project is also a year behind schedule—potentially complicating the ability to open the structure for the country's centennial anniversary of gaining independence from Britain in 1919.
Yet a sense of pride in doing the work without international assistance persists, Masouma Delijam, a senior architect on the project, told The New York Times: “It is so good that we have been able to find the capacity in ourselves for this.”
PROJECT: Darul Aman Palace restoration
LOCATION: Kabul, Afghanistan
ESTIMATED COMPLETION YEAR: 2019
BUDGET: US$20 million
NUMBER OF BULLET HOLES: In the millions (rough estimate)
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