The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two gigantic sculptures—one measuring 180 feet (55 meters) and the other 121 feet (37 meters) high—that were built in the sixth century C.E. Located 143 miles (230 kilometers) northwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, they were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and were one of the great archaeological and religious sites in the world. In 2001, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan ordered their destruction, and they were dynamited. Many countries, including Japan and Switzerland, have pledged their support to rebuild these cultural treasures.
One of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was destroyed by the Taliban government in Afghanistan in March 2001 (image courtesy UNESCO, A. Lezine).