Visiting the Jihad Museum Afghanistan. I’ve been fortunate to visit some of the world’s most renowned museums of the world such as the Louvre, the Vatican Museums, and the Hermitage. I have even managed to explore lesser known gems like the Bardo Musuem, Museum of Baikonur Cosmodrome History or Nukus Museum of Art (I.V. Savitsky collection). But one of the most unexpected museum finds was in an unforeseen place, Herat, Afghanistan. I visited the world-famous (well, Afghan-famous) Jihad Museum.

The Jihad Museum was built on 2010 and honors the efforts and sacrifices of the mujahideen who battled the Soviet Union from 1979 for ten years. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979. This was a vicious war that left one million Afghans and 15,000 Soviet soldiers dead. Ismail Khan, a politician and former mujahideen fighter and Sayed Abdel Wahab Qattali are the founders of the Jihad Museum also known as the Manzar-e Jahad.

I was a guest of Untamed Borders. Untamed Borders specializes in bringing travelers to challenging locations like Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, and Yemen.

An ornately tiled rotunda located on a hill houses the Jihad Museum. The museum is surrounded by verdant gardens and military hardware. The plethora of flowers serves as a juxtaposition with plethora of military weapons. But before you may enter the museum, you must buy a ticket. Entry to the museum is $10, and to take pictures is an additional $10. A rather expensive ticket for a country like Afghanistan, but well worth the purchase price since it is a quality museum.

ticket to the jihad museum

Our guide was a former mujahideen fighter who fought the Soviets for years. Today, he greeted us with a grey turban and a distinguished white beard.

Visiting the Jihad Museum Afghanistan

Our tour began with the exterior gardens which were planted with military hardware. Planes, helicopters, and APCs are the treasures won during the brutal fighting.

tanks at the jihad musuem

We approached the tiled rotunda, like the tile work that you would see at an Afghan mosque. One distinction were the hundreds of names listed on the building. Each tile lists four names, including both men and women. The names listed are the shahids from the Herat province who died battling the Soviets. Shahid is a word I heard often during my tour, and it means martyr, those who fought and died defending Islam.

The first floor of the building contained multiple displays mostly of weapons utilized during jihad, the struggle or fight against the enemies of Islam. Visiting the Jihad Museum Afghanistan

The first floor of the building contained multiple displays mostly of weapons utilized during jihad, the struggle or fight against the enemies of Islam. Visiting the Jihad Museum Afghanistan

A long hallway is covered with 60 portraits. The portraits showcase commanders who fought against the Soviets. Many names are proceeded with shahid.

shahids martyrs jahid musuem

Reaching the second floor, I entered a room containing hundreds and hundreds of photos depicting the trials and tribulations of war. There were photos of Russian POWs.

russian pows johad museum
And letters of POWs sent to their loved ones.

pow letters jihad musuem

There is a black and white photo of Bakhretdin Khakimov, a twenty-year-old Soviet soldier. He disappeared during the war in 1980. He was discovered in Herat in 2013. He had been seriously wounded in the war, and he was captured and then cared for by a local Afghan healer. Khakimov elected to remain and live as an Afghan. He learned the healing skills of the man who saved him. But recently, he has a new job as one of the guides at the Jihad Museum.

Bakhretdin Khakimov

As we climbed the stairs to the third floor, I was greeted by a gathering of life-sized mujahideen. I felt like I was in the Afghan version of Disney’s Hall of Presidents. 

Mujahideen at the jihad musuem

On the third floor, a vast and extensive diorama was presented replete with soundtrack. From our elevated position, we were entitled to a 360 degree of the Afghan struggle. In sometimes brutal fashion, the diorama traces the initial Soviet invasion to their retreat 10 years later. 

diorama jihad musuem

Visiting the Jihad Museum Afghanistan.

And also check out visiting the tomb of Ahmad Shah Massoud.

And the surprising people of Afghanistan.

Watching Buzkashi in Afghanistan

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