Once a place of Buddhist pilgrimage, Bamiyan is now more closely associated with the destruction visited on Afghanistan's culture by war. The two giant statues of the Buddha that once dominated the valley now lie in rubble, victims of the Taliban's iconoclastic rage. Despite this, the Bamiyan Valley remains one of the most beautiful (and stable) places in Afghanistan, and a must-see for any visitor. The valley was made a Unesco World Heritage site in 2003.
Bamiyan is a one-street town, dominated by sandstone cliffs that form the northern wall of the valley. The Buddha niches are visible from everywhere in Bamiyan; they are a short walk over the river from the town centre. Bamiyan sees heavy snow from November through to spring, and nights can be cold even in the height of summer. Take care with well-marked mined areas.
The first annual Bamiyan Silk Road Festival was held in July 2009, attracting many visitors with music, art and other cultural events.