– The 65 meters (210 ft) high Minaret of Jam is an amazing ancient structure that reminds of stunning skills of ancient builders.
This ancient missile-like skyscraper covered in elaborate brickwork with a blue tile inscription at the top points to the stars. It is an incredible ancient structure that today is considered a threatened wonder.
Located in the Shahrak District, Ghor Province, in western Afghanistan, by the Hari River, the structure is surrounded by the 2400m high mountains.For centuries, the Minaret had been lost and forgotten until rediscovered in 1886 by Sir Thomas Holdich, working for the Afghan Boundary Commission.
Then, it was forgotten again and rediscovered in 1957.
Later, the Soviet invasion in 1979 again prohibited access to the area, and since then only a handful of people from outside of Afghanistan have seen the minaret.
It is located in an area that few people ever visit.
Built in 1194 by the great Ghurid Sultan Ghiyas-od-din (1153-1203), its emplacement probably marks the site of the ancient city of Firuzkuh, believed to have been the summer capital of the Ghurid dynasty.
The Minaret of Jam is one of the few well-preserved monuments representing the exceptional artistic creativity and mastery of structural engineering of the time.
The Minaret of Jam is the tallest complete and authentic ancient minaret in the world. It belongs to a group of approximately sixty minarets and towers built between the eleventh and the thirteenth centuries in Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan. The minaret is part of The City of the Turquoise Mountain, which is the lost Afghan capital of the Middle Ages – Firuzkuh (Firuz Koh).
The city was once a prospering, multicultural center – before it was destroyed by a son of Genghis Khan in the early 1220s.Originally, the minaret was topped by the lantern, making it a sort of the dry land lighthouse. The minaret displays amazingly intricate baked-brick work, stucco and glazed tile ornamentation. It is covered with Kufic and Naskhi calligraphy and verses from the Qur’an, relating to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Dan Cruickshank, who visited the place says that “there is a panel bearing the date of construction: 1193/4. But, more importantly, the lower portion bears the entire 19th sura of the Koran. This chapter, called Maryam, tells of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, both venerated in Islam, and of prophets such as Abraham and Isaac.
It’s a text that emphasizes what Judaism, Christianity and Islam have in common, rather than their differences. It seems the Ghorids placed the text here to appeal for harmony and tolerance in the land, a message that is more relevant now than ever.”
The Minaret of Jam has survived more than 800 years against the odds, but how much longer will the structure remain?
In 2002, UNESCO declared Jam a World Heritage site. Unfortunately, this beautiful minaret is still endangered.