Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Tashkent, or Toshkent in Uzbek, is the capital of Uzbekistan.  With almost 2,5 million people it is the largest city in Central Asia.  Tashkent is in the northeastern part of the country and close to the border of Kazakhstan.

Tashkent was settled in the 5th-3rd centuries BC.   Islam became prominent in the mid-8th century AD.  Genghis Khan destroyed the city in 1219 but it later rebuilt and profited off being part of the Silk Road.  In 1865 it was annexed by the Russian Empire.  
In 1930 it became the capital of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic.  Mass industrialization took place in the 1920s and 1930s.  It was the 4th largest city in the USSR after Moscow, Leningrad, and Kyiv.

In 1966 there was an 8,3 magnitude earthquake that destroyed the city.  More than 300 000 people were left homeless and around 78 000 homes were destroyed.  There's little when it comes to the city's 2200 year history.  The Monument of Courage was unveiled 10 years later.  The granite block shows the time and date of the earthquake.     

The city's largest square used to be Lenin Square but it was renamed Independence Square in 1992.  It's less of a square and more of a huge park with several fountains and monuments.

The world's largest statue of Lenin was taken down and replaced with the Monument to the Independence of Uzbekistan.

On the other side of the park is the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, an Uzbek who died in the Battle of Moscow.  The eternal flame burns for those who died fighting in WWII.  

Amir Timur Square was built in 1870 as the city's Central Park.  The Lenin statue was replaced with a Stalin statue which was replaced with a statue of Karl Marx until independence when Amir Timur was reinstated as the national hero.

The Amir Timur Museum opened in 1996.  The museum has over 5000 artefacts in its collection with more than 2000 displayed.  The museum is stunning inside and well worth a visit.

The clock tower opened in 1947.  A second clock tower was opened later and it's an exact replica of the first one.

Hotel Uzbekistan opened in 1974.  It was the city's primary hotel during Soviet times and today it is a 4-star hotel.  The lobby has an ATM that actually works.  More on that later.

The Palace of International Forums is the congress hall.  It opened in 2009 to celebrate the city's 2200th anniversary.

The Cosmonaut Memorial opened in 1984.  Uzbek astronauts, scientists, and scholars played a big part in the Soviet space programme.

The Alay Bazaar is one of the oldest bazaars in the city.  It's quite popular for fruits, vegetables, spices, and sweets.

The People's Friendship Palace was built in 1981.  The facility is used for concerts and other large events.  There's a 50 metre (164 foot) flag pole in front of it at the People's Friendship Park.

The Kukeldash Madrassa was built around 1570.  It is one of the few religious buildings to survive the earthquake.

The Dzhuma Mosque was built in 1451.

The State Museum of Applied Arts opened in 1937.  There are more than 4000 exhibits.  

The State Museum of the History of Uzbekistan was founded in 1876.  It used to be the Lenin Museum.

The Tashkent Television Tower opened in 1985.  At 375 metres (1,230 feet) tall, it is the second tallest structure in Central Asia.  From 1985 to 1991 it was the 4th tallest tower in the world.

Aqua Park is the city's largest swimming area and is popular with families.

Tashkentland is the city's amusement park.  Another place popular with families.

The Hazrat Imam Complex is a religious centre that opened in 2007.  It is home to a famous Ottoman Quran and other ancient manuscripts.

The Minor Mosque opened in 2014.  The white marble is stunning.

The Centre of Enlightenment is home of the Palace of Symposiums and the National Library of Uzbekistan.

The Art Gallery of Uzbekistan opened in 2004.  While it is one of the youngest museums in the country it is the most modern and the most visited museum in the city.

The First Ashkenazi Synagogue of Tashkent opened in 1973.

The former Palace of Prince Romanov used to belong to the first cousin of Alexander III.  The cousin was deported to Tashkent after an affair with an American woman and some shady deals involving the Russian Crown Jewels.  The building was built in 1889 and it was once a museum but it was later appropriated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Navoi Theatre is the national opera theatre.  The building opened to the public in 1947.

The Chorsu Bazaar is huge.  It's probably the city's most famous bazaar.

The Central Asian Plov Centre is the place for lunch.  Plov is the country's national dish which is basically rice pilaf.  But way better.

It is cooked in massive cauldron looking things.  Plov is rice, pieces of meat, normally lamb or beef, plus onions, yellow carrots, quail eggs, and horse meat sausage.

There was quite a bit to see in Tashkent.  The next adventure is Samarkand which is 344 km (214 miles) away.

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