Ultra-rare colour images of Afghanistan in 1928 reveal a land of manicured gardens, elegant palaces and serene tree-lined avenues

Ultra-rare colour images of Afghanistan in 1928 reveal a land of manicured gardens, elegant palaces and serene tree-lined avenues

Sadie Whitelocks

Looking idyllic with manicured gardens, grand historical buildings and stunning mountain ranges, this is Afghanistan in the late 1920s.

This series of ultra-rare colour photographs shows a country that stands in stark contrast to the war-blighted nation that we’re more familiar with today.

They were taken as part of The Archives of the Planet photography project, which was initiated by the late French banker and philanthropist Albert Kahn and resulted in an archive of 72,000 pictures from around the world. These are now housed at the Albert Kahn museum in Paris.

Between 1909 and 1931, Kahn sent photographers out to more than 50 countries to document what they saw. This set of photographs was taken by Frédéric Gadmer, who explored the region for several months in 1928. Gadmer’s sun-drenched snapshots of a peaceful Afghanistan were recently unearthed by RFE/RL photographer Amos Chapple and kindly shared with MailOnline Travel.

The collection includes an image of the Darul Aman Palace, as it looked in 1928 – a tribute to the optimism of the age. Its grandiose exteriors were to be a foretaste of a new capital city, Darulaman, which was to be built around it, about 16 miles southwest of Kabul. However, a change in leadership thwarted its completion and any aspirations of becoming the capital.

Another shot shows the stunning gardens in the town of Paghman. They used to be a picture of paradise with colourful flowers and classical fountains but now the area has been completely bulldozed and even the trees have been wiped out. Scroll down to see a time when Afghanistan buzzed with beauty, instead of bullet fire… 

Looking idyllic with manicured gardens, grand historical buildings and stunning mountain ranges, this is Afghanistan in the late 1920s. This series of ultra-rare colour photographs shows a country that stands in stark contrast to the war-blighted nation that we know today. Above, a view over the landscaped gardens in Paghman, which were commissioned and built in the early 1900s by Amanullah Khan, the sovereign of Afghanistan from 1919 to 1929.

Looking idyllic with manicured gardens, grand historical buildings and stunning mountain ranges, this is Afghanistan in the late 1920s. This series of ultra-rare colour photographs shows a country that stands in stark contrast to the war-blighted nation that we know today. Above, a view over the landscaped gardens in Paghman, which were commissioned and built in the early 1900s by Amanullah Khan, the sovereign of Afghanistan from 1919 to 1929.

A fountain in the Paghman gardens in 1928 – a more charming and genteel period in Afghanistan. Waves of fighting in the 1980s and 1990s obliterated the gardens, reducing it to unrecognisable rubble.

Though these visitors to Kabul’s Paghman gardens are captured in 1928, nine years after Afghanistan gained independence from the British, their pith-helmeted getup and the architectural backdrop hark back to a more colonial era. 

The images were taken by photographer Frédéric Gadmer over several months while he explored the region in 1928. Gadmer was one of the photographers recruited by the late French banker and philanthropist, Albert Kahn, for his incredible Archives of the Planet photography project. Left is a European woman posing for a portrait in the capital city, Kabul, while a classically-designed clock tower in the town stands at a slight angle on the right

Mr and Mrs Girard, who were the directors of Kabul’s school of agriculture, strike a pose for the camera (left), while elegant sculptures can be seen in Paghman gardens (right). In 1992, a former resident who had lost his family and home after eight years of war returned to the town of Paghman and told a New York Times reporter: ‘It was once so beautiful and now it is all gone’

The Tomb of Ahmad Shah Durrani, located in the city of Kandahar, pictured in September 1928 (left) and in 2014 (right). It is the resting place of Ahmad Shah Durrani, who is seen as the founder of the state of Afghanistan

Gadmer’s sun-drenched snapshots of a peaceful Afghanistan were recently unearthed by RFE/RL photographer Amos Chapple and kindly shared with MailOnline Travel. Above, a manicured garden on the outskirts of Kabul, complete with a pond and fountain        +16

Gadmer’s sun-drenched snapshots of a peaceful Afghanistan were recently unearthed by RFE/RL photographer Amos Chapple and kindly shared with MailOnline Travel. Above, a manicured garden on the outskirts of Kabul, complete with a pond and fountain

A triumphal arch in the Paghman gardens near Kabul, seen in 1928 (left), commemorates the victims of the 1919 war against the British, which is known in Afghanistan as the War of Independence. The top of the structure was blasted off during fighting in the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s but is shown restored to its former glory in 2007 (right)

The Darul Aman Palace on the outskirts of Kabul as it looked in 1928 (left). It was to be a foretaste of what would be the new capital. The palace was another project of Amanullah Khan but, after Islamic hard-liners forced him from power in 1929, its construction was stalled and Darulaman’s aspirations of becoming the capital were thwarted. The palace has suffered considerable damage over the years as an image from 2011 shows (right)

The Darul Aman Palace, as depicted from the back in 1928 (left), was to herald an age of grandeur in a new capital city – a dream that was never realised. The beacon of 1920s optimism fell into disrepair during the conflicts of the 1980s and 1990s, so its bullet-pocked appearance – shown here in another modern-day shot, this time in 2002 (right) – became more symbolic of Afghanistan’s lawlessness. Plans are afoot to restore the palace to its former glory in time for the centenary of Afghan independence in August 2019.

A goldsmith at work in a mud-walled courtyard in Kabul in 1928 (above) embodies Afghanistan’s prosperity in the Roaring Twenties. He is one of the subjects immortalised by photographer Frédéric Gadmer during the Archives of the Planet project/

A goldsmith at work in a mud-walled courtyard in Kabul in 1928 (above) embodies Afghanistan’s prosperity in the Roaring Twenties. He is one of the subjects immortalised by photographer Frédéric Gadmer during the Archives of the Planet project

After gaining independence from the British in 1919, Afghans were keen to stamp their own identity on their country while still borrowing from European style. Flowers, trees and statuary in a Kabul garden in 1928 (above) are testament to the inspiration.

After gaining independence from the British in 1919, Afghans were keen to stamp their own identity on their country while still borrowing from European style. Flowers, trees and statuary in a Kabul garden in 1928 (above) are testament to the inspiration

With a backdrop not unlike a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, explorers take in the Farah Citadel, in western Afghanistan, in 1928. The 2,500-year-old structure – which has housed Alexander the Great and a Mujahadeen arms depot in its time – has miraculously managed to escape harm during various feuds and heavy bombardment  +16

With a backdrop not unlike a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, explorers take in the Farah Citadel, in western Afghanistan, in 1928. The 2,500-year-old structure – which has housed Alexander the Great and a Mujahadeen arms depot in its time – has miraculously managed to escape harm during various feuds and heavy bombardment

Courtesy: (dailymail.co.uk)

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