Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent is the economic and cultural center of the country. It has an interesting mix of traditional Islamic, Soviet and contemporary architecture, with wast green parks. Russians conquered this area already in the second half of the 19th century and stayed until 1991 when Uzbekistan declared independence. In times of the Soviet Union Tashkent was the 4th biggest city. In 1966 a strong earthquake destroyed the majority of buildings in the city, so they rebuilt it in the Soviet architectural styles.
Tashkent is also know for its beautiful metro stations, which are actually the reason behind our entire trip to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. My boyfriend read an article how after 40 years a ban on photographing metro stations in Uzbekistan capital ended. When the first stations were build in 1977 (and we know Soviets know how to make beautiful metro stations, just think of Moscow), they became a designated military site and nuclear bomb shelter with strict measures, like prohibition of taking photos. In July 2018 this ban was lifted and the whole world can now see what beauties Tashkent’s underground is hiding. This fact intrigued us, so we planned a trip in the area with a stop at Tashkent.
On the trip we of course check out all the must see spots in the city. 🙂
1. Tashkent’s metro stations
A mix of traditional Islamic, Russian and Arabic art can be seen in the metro stations of Tashkent, which are the oldest metro system in Central Asia. Inside stations there are beautiful artwork, decorations, columns, chandeliers, and other details. Some of my favourite stations are: Kosmonavtlar, where you can see portraits of famous country’s astronauts, Alisher Navoi, which includes beautifully painted domes, Mustaqillik Mayadoni with amazing chandeliers, and Bodomzor, full of futuristic light and geometrical paintings on the ceiling. So for a cheap ticket of 1.200 Uzbekistan som (approx. 0,10 euro) you can ride the metro and admire as many stations as you want.
2. Hazrat Imam Complex
This collection of mosques and madrasas in the centre of Tashkent is home to what is supposed to be the worlds oldest Qur’an, written just 19 years after Muhammed’s death on a deerskin. It is displayed in a glass-fronted vault in Muyi Muborak Library, where you can also see some other rare manuscript collections. The complex includes a few other beautiful buildings build from 16th to 19th century in the traditional Islamic style: Barak-Khan Madrassa, Tellya Sheikh Mosque and Tomb of Kaffal Shashi. There is also majestic Hazrat Imam Mosque built in 2007. They are not as impressive as famous landmarks in Bukhara and Samarkand, but it is still worth visiting them.
3. Chorsu Bazaar
The biggest market in Tashkent Chorsu Bazaar stretches around impressive blue domed building, where inside you will find all kinds of food products – meat, cheese, fruit, vegetable, spices, dried fruits, nuts. Outside the stalls offer everything from food to clothes, jewellery, souvenirs, home appliances etc. It’s an interesting place to browse typical products and watch locals. On the outskirts of bazaar there in a beautiful Kukeldash Madrasah, which still today functions as a school of koran. Its inside yard has a nice green garden. Next to it Dzuma Mosque is situated and impresses you with its beautiful turquoise domes.
4. Minor Mosque
Minor Mosque is one of the newest mosques in Tashkent, which they built in 2014 on the banks of Anchor Canal. They also call it white or snow mosque, because it is made of sparkly white marble. It is a majestic site of modern Islamic architecture worth admiring.
5. Amir Timur Square and Hotel Uzbekistan
Amir Timur is Uzbekistan’s hero and one of the most famous conqueror from Central Asia. In the middle of his square 7-meters high statue of him on horse is located, with a view of Hotel Uzbekistan in the distance. The latter is the the most iconic Soviet statue in the city. Around the square there is Amir Timur museum, where lovely local ladies ask me to take photo with them. Square is also the start of the Sailkogh Street – a popular walking streets, full of food stalls, art and antiques sellers and carnival games for kids. In the evening you can admire many different lights that are displayed on the street.
What else is there to see in Tashken?
There are quite some more interesting sites in the city you can visit:
Alisher Navoi Opera
State Museum of History of Uzbekistan
Memorial to the Victims of Repression and its surrounding park
Tashkent TV Tower
Navro’z bog’i park with with ferries wheal and miniature models of famous tourist attractions of Uzbekistan
Alisher Navoi park and the Parliament of Uzbekistan
Visited: September 2019