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Jul. 12 2009 - 11:39 am | 1,897 views | 4 recommendations | 20 comments

Narcotecture: A Photo Tour of Kabul’s Poppy Palaces

Here in Kabul, the poor live in unimaginably squalid conditions and the rich live like kings. Kings in very ugly castles.

We call them Poppy Palaces or Narcotecture, because much of the money that went into building them came from Afghanistan’s biggest crop. I also suspect that some UN/NGO/USAID dollars are paying for these insults to taste and design.

You can see these monstrosities all over town and I’ve photographed a few of the worst for your viewing pleasure. Note the really high walls and metal armor on some of them.

I apologize for the hurried nature of these photos—I took most of them from a moving car—but the AK-47 toting guards who stand watch at these palaces become a bit, um, grumpy when you take pictures around them.

My favorite one is pictured below. It’s still in the process of being constructed, but it clearly is meant to look like a certain residence in Washington, D.C.

More after the jump…


This house needs more railings

This house needs more railings

Behold! The ugly house of the fuuuuuuture!

Behold! The ugly house of the fuuuuuuture!

This could be yours...

This could be yours...


Got glass?

Ft. Lauderdale meets the Haqqani network

Ft. Lauderdale meets the Haqqani network

The Prince of Siam lived here, when he manufactured and distributed heroin

The Prince of Siam lived here, when he manufactured and distributed heroin


2 T/S Member Comments Called Out, 20 Total Comments
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  1. collapse expand

    I like the ‘For Rent’ sign on the one that looks like a Klingon advance ship.

  2. collapse expand

    Great pics, and perfect captions! The faux “White House” is just too funny—–except that it’s all so tragic.

    What phenomenally ugly architecture.

  3. collapse expand

    No doubt the afghan dope lords feel more secure with american troops guarding the country….than Taliban

  4. collapse expand

    Thanks so much for this insight.
    Please keep posting!

    Linked to via the Tariq Ali article on the LRB site:

    Greetings from Dublin, Ireland…

  5. collapse expand

    When I was in Kabul in November I wrote this report on poverty, including talking to some of the casual labourers who sometimes work on building these monstrosities

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    About Me

    I’m a writer and reporter living in Kabul, Afghanistan. For the past four years I’ve been an investigative reporter at various Village Voice Media weeklies, and before that I worked on documentary films in New York City.

    I am currently a journalism mentor and news editor for The Killid Group, a not-for-profit radio and print organization based in Kabul, with five radio stations and many bureaus throughout Afghanistan.

    My writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Christian Science Monitor, Village Voice, Modern Drunkard and other fine publications.

    Originally from Philadelphia, I’ve also worked in south Florida and Nashville, Tennessee.

    See my profile »
    Followers: 165
    Contributor Since: June 2009
    Location:Kabul, Afghanistan