Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan, a land-locked republic in Central Asia. The largest city in the nation, Tashkent has a population of close to 3 million. It has a unique culture and history, thanks to its position on the famous Silk Road. Its culture is a mix of Iranian, Turkic, Arab and Soviet Russian influences. Since it was ruled by the USSR until 1991 and has a majority Muslim population since the 8th century, Soviet and Islamic influences are the most apparent in the city. Modern Tashkent is a multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan city, with neat grids of straight roads and streets, lots of gardens, public parks, fountains, museums and monuments.
Things to See in Tashkent
Despite its long and rich history dating back to thousands of years, Tashkent has faced severe tragedies through the ages. Many of its monuments were destroyed in the modern era, especially during the Soviet Revolution in 1917 and the devastating earthquake of 1966. Most of the city had to be rebuilt, and the city’s architecture is a mix of Soviet style, old Islamic style and modern buildings. Here are just some of the major tourist hotspots in Tashkent:
This market is instantly recognised by its Central Asian style, and can be found in the neighbourhood of Old Town. There is an indoor section with a green domed structure as well as an open air market. The Bazaar is especially famous for its spices, dry fruits, meats and local souvenirs.
This is one of the oldest structures surviving in the city, and was built of yellow brick in 1570. It has had an eventful past, and was used as a caravanserai (roadside inn), a fortress and a museum before finally reverting back to being a madrassah in 1991.
This underground system was built by the Soviets and is an example of the ornate architectural style followed by Soviet architects. Each station has its own unique decorations and this system is one of the most elaborately decorated Soviet style metro systems in the world.
Built in the 16th century, this beautiful medieval mosque shows all the hallmarks of traditional Central Asian architecture. It also holds the unique distinction of holding the Uthman Qur’an, considered by Sunnis to be the oldest copy of the holy book on earth. This copy is believed to have the blood stain of Uthman, a close follower of Prophet Muhammed on it.
Amir Temur Square
Timur (or Tamerlane) was one of the last great nomadic conquerors from Central Asia. He is a revered Uzbek hero and this very central square in the heart of Tashkent is built in his honour. There is a well-maintained park and garden, and you can see a huge statue of Timur astride a horse in the square. The facility also has a modern museum built in classical style, which houses artefacts showing the story of this great warlord.
Curious Facts about Tashkent
- The city’s name means “City of Stone” in Old Turkic language.
- It was named the “Cultural Capital of the Islamic World” in 2007.
- The Uzbek Government claims that the first ever demonstration of electronic television was made in Tashkent, by Russian inventor Boris Grabovsky in 1928.
- The tomb of Yunus Khan, grandfather of the Mughal Emperor Babur, is located in Tashkent.
- The city’s Opera House was built using slave labour of Japanese war prisoners by the Soviet Red Army.
- Indian Prime Minister Shastri died in Tashkent under mysterious circumstances after signing the historic
- Tashkent Accord with Pakistan President Ayub Khan.
- Uzbekistan is one of the only two double-landlocked countries in the world, meaning one has to cross two borders from the country before reaching a coastline. The other such country is Switzerland.
- Salom- Hello
- Labbay!- How are you?
- Rahmat, yaxshi- I’m fine
- Hayirli tong- Good morning
- Hayirli tun- Good night
- YahshiIshlang- Have a nice day
- Ha- Yes
- Yo’q- No
- Afueting- Sorry
- Rahmat- Thank you
- Yordam Bering- Help
- Tushunmayapman- I don’t understand
Travel Tips for Tashkent
- They use 220 volt European-style round pins for electrical plug points in the country.
- You can buy a local sim card for your phone, which can be activated in just one minute.
- If you buy antiques made before 1959 in the local markets, you need special permission to take it out of the country.
- All forms of local transportation are cheap and affordable in Tashkent.
- If you shoot videos/photos near certain monuments, you will need to pay a small cover charge.
Local Cuisine in Tashkent
The signature dish is palov (pulav in Urdu), a main course made of rice, meat, spices, carrots and onions. Other dishes include various types of kebabs called shashlik, rich meat soups called shurpa, steamed dumplings called manti, local noodles called norin, and somsa (Samosa in Hindi/Urdu). Sumalyk is the popular sweet dish, made entirely with wheat and no added sugar. Tea without milk is the popular beverage. Alcoholic drinks are not forbidden in the country, and Uzbek wines and Russian beer and vodka is easily available in Tashkent. Non-vegetarian food is the norm, though vegetarian dishes are available on request.
Using Money in Tashkent
The local currency is the Uzbek Sum, but currency exchanges can be a bit of a hassle in Tashkent. The notes have to be perfect, and those with even minor defects can be rejected. US dollar is the most popular currency that is accepted anywhere. Exchanges can be done at your hotel or the local forex office. Black market exchange is widely prevalent, but it is illegal and best to be avoided. Though all major credit cards are accepted in most establishments, it is better to carry some cash anyway. Local currency can be withdrawn from some ATMs using your credit cards, but such ATMs are not very common, even in Tashkent.
Tashkent Fact File
Location: In Uzbekistan, Central Asia; on the plains west of Altai Mountains near the Chirchik River, and on the road between Shymkent and Samarkand.
Connectivity: Tashkent International Airport is the main airport in Uzbekistan, with flights to Asia, Europe and North America; Tashkent-Samarkand High Speed Rail connects the two main Uzbek cities. The country also has a well-developed regular rail system, with domestic lines as well as connections to Central Asian nations as well as Russia; local transport is affordable with metro, buses and taxis available.
Climate: Continental Mediterranean
Languages: Uzbek and Russian are the official languages. English is not spoken widely.
Time Zone: UZT – Uzbekistan Time (UTC +5:00)
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