12 April 2013
Last updated at 21:44 ET
The ancient Afghan city of Ghazni has been designated an Asian city of Islamic Culture by the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. But outsiders will find it difficult to see the city's famous Islamic and pre-Islamic architectural wonders because of the Taliban insurgency. (Words and pictures by the BBC's Hedayatullah Hamim).
Its strategic location means that Ghazni is often used by the Taliban to attack Nato, but the insurgents have in recent years been pushed back by the coalition. Afghan National Security Forces have recently built numerous checkpoints in the area, but occasional attacks by militants persist.
The 12th Century minaret of Bahram Shah - from the Ghaznavid dynasty - is one of the city's most famous landmarks thanks to its unusual form and geometric brickwork decoration. It is not clear whether the minaret was built as a victory tower or as part of a mosque complex.
A modern day cemetery overlooks the old fortress of Ghazni, built during the Ghaznavid period. Today the city is home to about 150,000 people.
These crumbling towers of Ghazni's old fortress are testament to decades of war which have contributed to the destruction of ancient monuments and slowed restoration efforts. The city's pre-Islamic sites especially have suffered, with an ancient Buddhist site outside the city being damaged by the Taliban.
Throughout its history Ghazni has hosted a number of famous intellectuals, scholars and poets - many of whom are remembered in dedicated mausoleums like this one for the mystic Ali Lala.
The authorities have been working to improve access to historical sites, but a lack of funds has meant that many projects are yet to be completed. Even so, the city is in better shape than it was in 1333, when famous Moroccan travelling scholar Ibn Battuta wrote that the greater part of it was "in ruins".
Ghazni was a thriving Buddhist centre up until the 7th Century. But in 683 AD, Arab armies brought Islam to the region. In the 13th Century it was destroyed by the Mongol armies of Genghis Khan, led by his son Ogedei Khan.
For a city that has seen so much violence - it was stormed by British troops during the first Anglo-Afghan War in 1839, was at the centre of civil war during the 1990s and turned into a US Base after the Afghan invasion of 2001 - experts say it is amazing that Ghazni has managed to keep so many of its artefacts at all.