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Tashkent metro map

Tashkent's citizens are justifiably proud of their metro, Central Asia's first and bursting with decorative intent. It is one of only two subway systems currently operating in Central Asia, the other one is the Almaty Metro. It was the seventh metro to be built in the former USSR, opening in 1977. Its stations are among the most ornate in the world.

Construction began in 1972 and five years later the first train rolled. Extensive rubber padding makes the system, around 40 kilometres and growing, as earthquake-proof as possible. Besides being the most convenient way to traverse the city, and a cool escape from melting avenues, its stations cry out to be appreciated, although photography is forbidden, and stirring Soviet-era reliefs have fled several stops. Cotton is a common motif, from the mosaics of Pakhtakor (cotton worker) to the boll lamps of Uzbekistan; cupolas drip with gold leaf at Alisher Navoi, while Kosmonavtlar offers ceramic discs of cosmonauts floating in a spectral sea. You may have to suppress the urge to hum 'Ground control to Major Tom...'.

Planning for the Tashkent Metro started in 1968, two years after a major earthquake struck the city in 1966. Construction on the first line began in 1972 and it opened on November 6, 1977 with nine stations. This line was extended in 1980, and the second line was added in 1984. The most recent line is the Yunusobod Line, the first section of which opened in 2001.

Today, the Tashkent metro has 29 stations that differ from each other. The architecture and de'cor of each station depicts its name. The peculiarity of the Tashkent metro is its rather shallow station positioning. Some stations have escalators, 7 stations belong to the tower type, 4 stations to the arch type and one station (Mustakillik) to the tower-individual type. Prominent architects and artists of Uzbekistan took part in designing the stations. Interior de'cor features solid and stable materials: metal (in the form of engravings), glass, plastic, granite, marble, smalt, art ceramics, and carved alabaster. Each station is original work of art and centers on a particular theme.

Note: To use Metro you would need to buy a token (sold at ticket offices 'KASSA' at the entry). Currently one token cost 800 sum which is less than 30 US cents, making it quite cheap to getting around the city. You pay one tocken per person only notwithstanding how many stations you plan to cover. Expect to have your bags searched by the police before entring the Metro, this is a standard security measure for all. Trains are more frequent at peak hours and with intervals of 8-10 minutes in off-peak time.

"We learnt how to get around the city. Tashkent boasted a tastefully designed metro, each station themed after an appropriate Soviet hero or after cotton, which seemed to be the main value of Uzbekistan as far as the Soviet authorities were concerned."

Christopher Aslan Alexander "A Carpet Ride to Khiva" 2010