Around the World in 80 Clicks

inspiring you to travel

Tajikistan: Yamchun fort

Mission accomplished image

Yamchun fort | Tajikistan | Asia

[Visited: June 2010]

We had been driving for hours in the Wakhan valley, and had constantly been looking outside, not to miss anything of the spectacular, wild landscapes unfolding before our eyes. At one point, we had walked down from the road to a desert-like stretch of the Pyanj riverbank. Like small children, we had been playing with the hot sand, running down the steep slopes, or even mimicking a ski slalom. The views from here were very fine, too. We were thrilled when we were driving up the switchbacks to Yamchun; every now and then, we could get a glimpse of the fortress high above us, until it disappeared from our sight. When we had gained some 500 metres altitude, the road leveled off a little, and we immediately saw the contours of Yamchung fort ahead of us - sometimes also called Kafir Qala, Zamr-i-Atash-Parast or Zulkhomar Fort.

Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): Wakhan valley: Yamchun fortress, Pyanj river, and the Hindu Kush

When we stopped close to Yamchung fort, we finally realized that the builders had chosen a perfect spot, making Yamchung fort virtually invincible. Covering an entire steep hill covered with rocks, the fort almost seemed like a natural extension to the landscape. Clouds had been floating towards the valley, and Yamchung fort was alternately lit by the midday sun, or shaded by the thick clouds above. We had to hike down a steep path, cross a brook, and hike up again to reach the first of many oval watchtowers. What followed was a scramble to get up walls and towers, walk the flat plain inside the fortress, and enjoy the views on several sides of the fortress.

Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): Watchtower of Yamchun fortress with snow-capped mountains

Originally built in the 2-3rd century BCE by the king-brothers Qahqaha and Zangibor, it is thought that the current structure was founded in the 12th century. It not only was a fortress, but also a citadel, and as such could provide a safe haven for ordinary people as well. We found that the walls actually consisted of a double defence: the thicker outer wall was protected through a thinner inside wall. The entire length of the outer walls was guarded by no less than 36 towers. The walls and towers are made with various building techniques, and considering the location they are built, those who constructed it have done an incredible job. Sitting on the wall on the valley side, seeing the Wakhan valley which is actually quite wide here, it was impossible not to try to imagine Marco Polo and other famous discoverers pass through this same landscape, and admire this same Yamchung fort.

Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): Ruins of Yamchun fortress and Afghan mountains
Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): Ruins of the wall and watchtowers of Yamchun fortress
Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): Watchtower of Yamchun fortress with Wakhan valley in the background
Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): Wakhan valley and mountains seen from Yamchun fortress
Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): Snow-capped Hindu Kush and Yamchun fortress
Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): Stony walls of Yamchun fortress
Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): View from Yamchun fortress: Wakhan valley
Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): Snow-capped Afghan mountains with Yamchun fortress
Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): Hindu Kush towering over a wall of Yamchun fortress
Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): View from within Yamchun fortress: wall and Afghan mountains
Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): Ruins of Yamchun fortress on top of a hill
Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): Watchtower of Yamchun fortress
Picture of Yamchun fort (Tajikistan): Stone wall of Yamchun fortress

Around the World in 80 Clicks

Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Yamchun fort (Tajikistan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Yamchun fort.
Read more about this site.

Follow us