How the world’s historic sites are preserved and destroyed

“There was a time, long ago, when Kabul sat on an axis of global power, its rulers enthroned in a vast citadel, surrounded by Buddhist monasteries, at the crossroads of trade routes that carried wealth and knowledge to all points of Asia and beyond.” writes FP’s Lynne O’Donnell. “Today, the remains of this citadel tell the story of thousands of years into the history of what is now a very different Afghanistan. .”

In this edition of Flash Points, we wanted to share our essays and reports on historical sites around the world – from Bala Hissar in Afghanistan to Luang Prabang in Laos – and the stories they tell about the past and future of their country as they are preserved, contested and destroyed.—Chloe Hadavas

From the ruins of the war, a tourist resort emerges

Shusha was key in the recent war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Now Baku wants to turn the legendary fortress city into a resort, writes Liz Cookman.

“There was a time, long ago, when Kabul sat on an axis of global power, its rulers enthroned in a vast citadel, surrounded by Buddhist monasteries, at the crossroads of trade routes that carried wealth and knowledge to all points of Asia and beyond.” writes FP’s Lynne O’Donnell. “Today, the remains of this citadel tell the story of thousands of years into the history of what is now a very different Afghanistan. .”

In this edition of Flash Points, we wanted to share our essays and reports on historical sites around the world – from Bala Hissar in Afghanistan to Luang Prabang in Laos – and the stories they tell about the past and future of their country as they are preserved, contested and destroyed.—Chloe Hadavas



The Azerbaijani army patrols the streets of Shusha on September 25 under a sign that reads: ‘Dear Shusha, you are free. Dear Shusha, we are back. Dear Shusha, we are going to resuscitate you. Choucha is ours.Photos by Emre Caylak for Foreign Policy

From the ruins of the war, a tourist resort emerges

Shusha was key in the recent war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Now Baku wants to turn the legendary fortress city into a resort, writes Liz Cookman.



The historical complex of Bala Hissar in Kabul

A worker walks past the rusting remains of a Russian tank as he works on the historic Bala Hissar complex in Kabul on July 27.Massoud Hossaini for foreign policy

A Taliban Challenge: Learning the Lessons of History

What an ancient citadel can teach us about Afghanistan’s past and its potential future, according to FP’s Lynne O’Donnell.



Nuns visit the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba on October 14, 2014.

Nuns visit the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba on October 14, 2014.GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images

The Reconquista of the Mosque of Cordoba

Spain’s most famous mosque is at the center of a dispute between activists seeking to preserve its Muslim heritage and the Catholic Church, which has claimed it as its own, writes Eric Calderwood.



Fishermen lay their nets on the Mekong near the site of an approved dam near Luang Prabang, Laos, February 8, 2020.

Fishermen lay their nets on the Mekong near the site of an approved dam near Luang Prabang, Laos, February 8, 2020.AIDAN JONES/AFP via Getty Images

In Laos, a questionable dam threatens Luang Prabang

A hydroelectric project could force UNESCO to delist the spectacular World Heritage Site, writes Nathan Thompson.



A man walks through Mariupol, Ukraine.

A man walks through the destroyed historic city center of Mariupol, Ukraine on April 12.Maximilien Clarke/LightRocket via Getty Images

Russia’s imperial arrogance destroys Ukrainian heritage

The Kremlin believes it is the true heir to classical civilization and is about to replicate its plunder from Syria to Ukraine under the guise of cultural preservation, write Jade McGlynn and Fiona Greenland.