Author Qais Akbar Omar has selected the pictures that best capture the places and people in his book, A Fort of Nine Towers. He takes us from the fort itself across the stunning countryside of Afghanistan, via monuments destroyed in wars and thriving markets. 

All images are copyright of Qais Akbar Omar

The house of nine towers

A view of the courtyard on the Qala-e-Noborja, the fort of nine towers.

Mazar-e-Sharif shrine

The shrine in Mazar-e-Sharif (literally, "the great tomb") that gives the city its name. Some say that Hazrat Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, is buried there.  Some scholars say it is the tomb of Zoroaster who is said to have introduced monotheism.

Road to Mazar-e-Sharif

The road to Mazar-e-Sharif from Kabul winds through farms along the area's few rivers.

Kuchi nomad caravan

A Kuchi nomad caravan near the desert oasis of Aqinah heads north across the Afghanistan border in to Turkmenistan.

Carpet seller

A woman tries to sell a carpet she has woven to a dealer on market day in Andkhoy in northwestern Afghanistan. 

A bazaar in Kabul

In the crowded bazaar in central Kabul, vendors vie for space, with some forced to set up along the banks of the Kabul river. The Kabul river is filled with trash waiting to be washed away by a big rain. 

Buddha statues in the rock

The empty niche where the smaller of the two Buddha statues in Bamyan stood until they were destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban. My family lived in a cave at the top of the niche, behind the statue.

The view from the cave

The view from one of the caves behind the Bamyan Buddha where my family took refuge for a couple of months as we fled the fighting in Kabul and elsewhere.

Read the opening passage from A Fort of Nine Towers