Tajikistan is a small country in Central Asia, famous for its ancient mosques, beautiful palaces, magnificent mountain landscapes and fast rivers.
What to do in Tajikistan
Settlements on the site of modern Tajikistan were formed even before the beginning of our era. The state, located on the Great Silk Road, attracts tourists with archaeological sites, original architecture of eastern cities, medieval towers, mosques. People come here to see the Hissar fortress, the mausoleum of Abu-Abdollo Rudaki, the ancient settlement of Mugteppa, the Khavzi-Sangin mosque.
The cultural heritage of Tajikistan is carefully preserved in museums. Historical exhibitions are concentrated in Dushanbe, telling about the national characteristics of this people. Among the exhibits are ceramics, weapons, manuscripts of famous Tajik scientists, philosophers and poets.
Various festivals are held annually in Tajikistan:
- The festival of national cuisine and balloons is very popular. For several days in the capital there are culinary master classes, fairs, food tasting, music concerts. The highlight of the holiday is balloons decorating the city sky.
- In summer, the Roof of the World festival starts in Khorog, gathering lovers of ethnic music. A stage is set up on the street, participants show interesting numbers and exchange cultural traditions. The program includes theatrical and vocal performances, dances, fireworks.
More than 93% of the territory of Tajikistan is occupied by mountains. The country is crossed by the Altai, Turkestan, Gissar ranges and the Pamir mountain system with peaks of seven thousand meters. Such a landscape attracts active people and professional climbers. Local firms offer walking routes for 3–7 days. The mandatory program includes mountain climbing, meals, overnight stays in tourist bases and campsites.
In Tajikistan, everyone will find something to their liking. Tourists go to explore mountain lakes, hot springs of Garmchashma, rapid rivers. Vivid impressions will be provided by visiting oriental bazaars and restaurants, as well as a trip to the capital’s zoo.
In the center of Dushanbe, the main square of Tajikistan — Dusti flaunts. It is a wide green esplanade extending from the monumental monument to Ismail Samani to the Dushanbinka River. The architectural ensemble dedicated to the founder of the first Tajik state consists of a huge arch inlaid with stalactites. Its top is crowned with a golden crown.
In front of the arch rises a thirteen-meter sculpture of Ismail Samani with a scepter in his right hand. The monument is guarded by two formidable stone lions. A cascade of musical fountains with colored illumination is installed along the esplanade.
In the north of Tajikistan is the city of Istaravshan, founded in the VI century BC. Today it is a tourist center that attracts guests with ancient mosques, caravanserais, and mausoleums.
The architectural monument of the Achaemenid era, found on the banks of the Nizhon River, is especially popular. The settlement of Mugteppa, built in the XII-IV centuries BC, is well preserved. Tourists can see fragments of streets and squares, palaces, columns, gates, and the remains of defensive fortifications.
Khujand, spread out on the banks of the Syr Darya, has a history of many thousands of years. This is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, which was conquered by Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Arabs — but it has always been reborn from the ashes. Of the sights of Khujand, the mosque-mausoleum of Sheikh Muslihiddin, the Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene, the medieval citadel and the monument to the poet Kamol Khujandi on the main square are of great value.
The city of Penjikent was an important trade and cultural center on the Great Silk Road. On the left side of the Zeravshan River, the ancient city of Sarazm, dating back to the 5th-8th centuries, has been preserved. The monument is of great historical importance and shows what was the structure of medieval cities in Central Asia.
During the excavations, scientists discovered a large necropolis, the remains of squares and streets, old houses decorated with paintings by Sogdian masters. The list of finds includes bronze and silver coins, pottery, shards covered with ancient writings.
Architectural and historical sights
In the historical part of Khujand, the fortification system of the city, founded in the 6th-5th centuries BC, has been preserved. Initially, the citadel was surrounded by a rampart, later thick walls and a moat filled with water appeared. During the invasion of Genghis Khan, the fortress was destroyed. It lay in ruins until the 15th century. After it was restored by the local ruler and arranged his residence inside.
The modern fortress has been restored and welcomes tourists. There is a museum and a souvenir shop on its territory.
Mosque Masjidi Jami
On the Panjshanbe square in Khujand stands the Masjidi Jami mosque dating back to the 16th century. Its distinguishing feature is a large vaulted hall with numerous columns. The main entrance and the wall above the mihrab are painted with bright colors. The interiors are decorated with carved ornaments with geometric motifs.
Famous architects of the Muslim world were involved in the decoration. The mosque is complemented by a high burnt brick minaret with a traditional lantern and arched spans. There is a fountain in the courtyard.
Palace of the Nation
In the heart of Dushanbe rises the huge residence of the President of the country, designed for official meetings and events. The beautiful white building is decorated with thin marble columns, arched windows, carved patterns. The facade is crowned with a gilded dome, over which the national flag flutters. The Palace of the Nation complex includes the square in front of the main entrance, Rudaki Park, the National Museum and the Library.
In the west of the republic lies the Gissar Valley, through which the Great Silk Road passed in ancient times. In the valley is the village of Gissar, founded 2.5 thousand years ago. The medieval madrassah and the Hissar fortress remind of the old times.
The centuries-old citadel has thick battlements and round multi-stage towers with narrow loopholes. The structure was partially destroyed, but retained its majestic and formidable appearance.
Khawzi Sangin Mosque
In Istaravshan, the Khavzi Sangin mosque, erected by order of the Sultan in the 12th century, has been preserved. Its walls are made of stone quarried from a local reservoir.
The domed mosque consists of a rounded hall supported by columns. Wooden vaults are covered with paintings and original ornaments. Earthenware jars without a bottom are mounted in the dome, providing excellent acoustics. At the beginning of the last century, the Khavzi Sangin Mosque was restored, and now it is in good condition.
Mausoleum of Rudaki
For more than a thousand years, people did not know where the burial place of the great poet and scientist Rudaki was located. In 1940, archaeologists finally unearthed the tomb, on the site of which they built a beautiful mausoleum in the traditional Islamic style.
The attraction is located in the small village of Panjrud among the picturesque mountains and green forests. A wide stone staircase leads to the mausoleum, the entrance is marked by a large Persian arch and wooden gates. Behind them is a multifaceted red brick building with a blue dome. Inside there is a marble sarcophagus with the remains of the poet.
In the village of Mehrobod, the Khulbuk architectural complex, which is part of the ancient settlement of Khishtepa, has been preserved. A museum-reserve has been opened on its territory.
Tourists are shown a rectangular citadel, surrounded by fifteen-meter walls, and a palace made of baked bricks. It contained wall paintings, terracotta parquet and even plumbing. On the tour you can see ancient coins, samples of edged weapons, as well as household items that characterize life in medieval Asia.
National Museum of Tajikistan
In 2013, the Dushanbe Museum of Local Lore received a new two-story building in the city center. It consists of 22 exposition departments. Among them: the hall of nature, departments of applied and fine arts, ancient, medieval and modern history. The collections include archaeological finds, national clothes, pottery, antique furniture, antique carpets, paintings, stuffed animals and birds, and even skeletons of prehistoric animals.
Museum of Antiquities
There is a national museum of antiquities of Tajikistan in the capital. Its exhibitions are regularly replenished with archaeological and ethnographic exhibits from all over the country. Ceramics, early printed books, manuscripts, silver coins, weapons, and jewelry are presented to the attention of the guests. The list of unique exhibits includes a twelve-meter clay figure of Buddha, discovered by archaeologists during the excavations of Ajina-tepa, and artifacts from the ancient settlement of Sarazm.
Natural attractions and reserves
In the south of the Western Pamirs there are hot mineral springs that come to the surface of the earth with violent fountains. Water is collected in a kind of recesses in the form of baths, the banks of which are covered with frozen stalagmites and stalactites.
The chemical composition of water is saturated with silicon, hydrogen sulfide, fluorine, iron, magnesium. Here, at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level, the health resort of Garmchashma was built. The sanatorium specializes in the treatment of respiratory, dermatological and joint diseases.
The reserve on the slope of the Darvaz Range with a length of 19.7 thousand hectares includes beautiful rocks and wooded hills. It is intended to conserve the population of the markhor and the Central Asian mouflon. Dashtijum National Park is a popular tourist attraction.
Hiking trails are laid through the picturesque hills. From November to December, in agreement with the management of the reserve, photo hunting is carried out for animals listed in the Red Book.
In the Fann Mountains, at an altitude of 2195 meters above sea level, there is Lake Iskanderkul. Its area is 3.4 km², the depth is 72 meters. The oval lake is filled with bicarbonate-calcium water, which is good for health. On the shore there is a Tajik weather station and a limestone rock, on which Russian travelers left inscriptions in 1870.
Lake Karakul, surrounded by rocky ridges, is located at an altitude of 3214 meters above sea level in the north of the Pamir Range. Scientists came to the conclusion that it arose about 25 million years ago as a result of the fall of a huge meteorite. This is a salty drainless lake, divided into two parts by a peninsula and an island. In winter, the water freezes completely, and in summer it always remains cold.
People with good physical fitness who are not afraid of climbing mountains can get here. Travelers should stock up on warm clothes, as an icy wind blows at the top.
A water park has been built on the outskirts of Dushanbe, which operates during the hot season. Outdoors there are three adult and two children’s pools. For thrill-seekers, high-speed attractions Kamikaze, Serpentine, Black Hole, Space Odyssey, Multislide are intended.
For kids there are water cannons and small slides. Near the pools there is a recreation area with sunbeds, umbrellas, cafes. Visitors can hire a swimming instructor and a children’s entertainer.
Botanical Garden of Tajikistan
A botanical garden has been planted in Dushanbe along the Dushanbinka River. The main entrance leads people to a glass greenhouse. Numerous alleys extend from it, laid in different parts of the botanical garden.
Since 2007, an ethnographic reserve has been established among trees and shrubs. It houses traditional Tajik houses, pottery and weaving workshops. The botanical garden hosts exhibitions of folk art and other cultural events.
A zoo has been opened on Ismail Somoni Avenue in Dushanbe, covering an area of 6.7 hectares. To date, it contains 130 species of animals. All animals live in normal conditions. Spacious enclosures are provided for predators, pens for artiodactyls.
A huge nursery was built especially for monkeys. The snakes live in a terrarium. The Dushanbe zoo has a large play area for children, cafes and souvenir shops.