What to visit in Tashkent
Places to visit in Tashkent – tourist landmarks
1. Independence Square (Mustakillik Square)
This is the central square of Uzbekistan, the largest in the former Soviet Union and perhaps the most visited place in Tashkent with free entry and lots to see like monuments, fountains and a leisure stroll in the park.
The square is the focal point for celebrations on Independence Day, 1 September, and flanked by public buildings – the Senate and Cabinet of Ministers. This is why there is nowhere to sit and enjoy the scenery, and some places are not allowed to be photographed.
You would for sure like the beautiful gardens, where every tree is pruned, and fountains. The gardens are enjoyable to walk around, although you hit a monument every 100 meters. What first catches the eye is a massive arch topped by storks and fantasy figures – part of the Monument of Independence and Humanism. The giant bronze coloured globe showing the Independent Uzbekistan is impressive and northeast of the Globe burns the flame of the Unknown Soldier, in front of an impressive statue of Blessed Mother.
There is also a monument to those fallen in the World War II and the form the State honours its deaths from previous wars is special and different, they have a huge List of Names carved in Metal sheets that look like booklets.
Take a memorable stroll through this must-see site. You will enjoy it!
If you want to have real idea about Tashkent while visiting Uzbekistan, you must go to the heart of the city – Old Town with large, bustling and colourful Chorsu Bazaar (market). Chorsu Bazaar is the largest and oldest market not only in Uzbekistan, but also throughout Central Asia. Here you can find wonderful handicrafts in clay, porcelain, and metal, explore culture, meet the real people, enjoy local cuisine, see the goods that people use and the way they treat each other.
You can walk around for hours, eat some nice things from the many barbeque places, and get a feel for the local way of shopping as well as seeing "mountains" of vegetables, meat and other products artistically displayed at the various stands/booths. There are also sections for household goods, jewellery, clothing, gardening supplies, spices and just about anything, you could want. Chorsu Bazaar is the best place to buy non-expensive souvenirs and national dress, ladies would definitely enjoy seeing good range of beautiful scarves with national ornaments. Don’t be afraid to eat the food in the market – they make the best plov (rice and meat dish) and kebabs you will ever taste.
You can change money to local currency – soum – by very good black market exchange rate. The bazaar is very crowded so keep your money close and beware of thieves!
To reach the bazaar, just get off at Chorsu Metro Station with an exit, opening right in the middle of bazaar. This market is both indoors and outdoors and it is a true adventure to visit and of course to buy something from the innumerous sellers – and don't forget to bargain!
Surrounded by the old part of Tashkent city, the Khazrati Imam Complex (also known as Khast Imom) is a huge nicely settled area containing the complex of mosques, the mausoleum of Kaffal Shashi (one of the first imams of the Muslim world, X cent.), the 16th Century Barak Khan Madrasah and the Islamic Institute of Imam al-Bukhari. Khazrati Imam Complex is also the residence of Muslim Board of Uzbekistan, whose grand mufti is roughly the Islamic equivalent of an archbishop.
The Khazrati Imam Mosque, which was constructed in just four months in 2007 on the instruction of President Karimov is the official religious centre of Uzbekistan, and was the focus of a massive reconstruction project completed in 2010. The entire square, fronted by the 50 metre tall minarets of the huge new Khazrati Imam Jome Masjidi (Friday Mosque) is Tashkent's largest place of worship.
Just behind the Friday Mosque is the Tillya Sheikh Mosque and the small but important Muyie Mubarak Library (09.00-12.00 & 14.00-17.00 Mon-Fri, 10.00-15.00 Sat; US$1.50). Muyie Mubarak means 'the sacred hair', a reference to a holy relic held here: a hair said to have belonged to the Prophet Muhammad. Muyie Mubarak Library Museum is perhaps the primary attraction here, since it houses the 7th-century manuscript Quran (Uthman Quran), written in the territory of modern Iraq in the Kufic script. This manuscript, held by the Muslim Board of Uzbekistan, is the earliest existent written version of the Quran in the world. It is the definitive version, known as the Mushaf of Uthman, superseding all other versions. The third Caliph Uthman, who ordered its compilation, was assassinated while reading it. In 1997 UNESCO included the Uthman Quran in the Memory of the World Register.
Khazrati Imam Complex is a must-see place for those travellers who want to touch history and feel an amazing sense of calm while looking at marvellous architecture, blue mosaics, art, beautiful gardens with storks and fruit trees with cherries, apricots and mulberries.
Kukeldash Madrasah is located near Chorsu Bazaar and can be approached by disembarking at Chorsu Metro Station. The madrasah was built in the XVI century, and now used for the students of Islamic Studies, though at certain other times it has been used as a fortress, caravan-serai, mosque and school.
It is both partially restored and unrestored – the exterior breath-taking, the interior of the central building equally breath-taking in its unrestored state – shafts of light break through the holes in walls and dome; birds flit about through the grey umbra; a young artist offers his wares amidst the dirt and detritus on the floor. After the hustle and bustle of the Chorsu Bazaar, you will feel the comfort and peace in the courtyard of madrasah.
One legend says that for a long time, Kukeldash Madrasah served as a place of execution – adulteresses were dumped in bags from the highest parapet of the central portal. Another legend tells of an unusual sprawling pistachio tree, which for several hundred years has grown right on one of the domes of madrasah and was considered sacred.
An inscription on the wall of Kukeldash reflects the fate of the landmark: "Death is inevitable for man, but his works remain forever".
The Tashkent Metro consists of three lines, operating on 36.2 kilometres of route and serving 29 stations, which are among the most ornate in the world. It is the first metro of Central Asia, the first line started functioning in 1977.
Metro is easy, cheap and time saving way to get around. You have to buy plastic tokens; each is 1000 Soum (as of July 2014, roughly $0,3) for traveling to any station at one time. For newcomers it takes almost 5 to 10 minutes to understand all the routes of metro.
The stations are beautifully decorated with ornate details and large expansive statements, chandeliers, lights, and tile work.
Photographing inside is forbidden, and police is everywhere, including stations and exits. If you have large bags, they may search them, but people are polite and helpful.
So, if you are in Tashkent, the Metro is definitely the best way to explore this big city.
Genuine center of the city, Amir Timur Square is a green space with plenty of flowers and fountains. According to its design, the square has a radial-ring planning system: eight park alleys give rise to eight streets, focused on parts of the world. Roads radiate from here to all corners of the country and neighbouring states. Most important buildings, both political and cultural, are concentrated on the square.
Amir Timur Square was firstly designed in 1882 by Russian architects as a central park of the new Tashkent and called Constantine Square. Since then the main monument in the center of the square was changed several times. The first one was to General Kaufmann later replaced by monument to Free Workers (1917), monument to 10th anniversary of October revolution (1927), monument to Stalin (1947), monument to Karl Marx (1968). In 1993 the government of independent Uzbekistan decided to install the monument to Amir Temur (Tamerlane, 1336-1405)– a prominent politician and the leader of the Middle Ages, who has created a huge single empire stretching from the Caucasus to China and from Siberia to India, which lasted 200 years in the XIV-XV centuries. On the monument you will read his words: “The strength is in justice”, inscribed in three languages.
Amir Timur Square is surrounded by a number of buildings: “Uzbekistan” Hotel, Tashkent State Institute of Law (former Women’s Gymnasium), the Amir Timur Museum, well-known Tashkent Chime (1947) with newly (2009) constructed another chime being a mirror reflection of the old one and the International Forums Palace – one of the most grandiose architectural structures in Tashkent built in 2009 to honour Tashkent’s 2200th anniversary.
In 2009 the century-old sycamores planted by Tsarist Governor-General Chernyaev, which had weathered the entire Soviet era unscathed, were suddenly cut down without warning or reason, leaving the square sadly barren. Nowadays the square is well-cared area but there is no shade, so it can be a very hot place in the summer.
To reach the square is very easy – get off at the Amir Temur Hiyoboni Metro Station and pass through the pedestrian subway. From here, you can move in any direction to explore that or another part of Tashkent city.
One of the best places to visit and see in Tashkent, Amir Temur Museum (official name – State Museum of Temurids History of the Academy of Science of Uzbekistan, established in 1996 to commemorate 660th anniversary of Amir Temur’s birth) is visible from a far distance. Museum building is a replica of Amir Temur's Crown and housed with all the history of his venture-maps, dresses, books and battling weapons.
The artworks, craft and architecture of the museum is unmatchable, living up to the grandeur of the greatest king and dynasty of Uzbekistan. Timurs code and the first prototype on which later Tajmahal was constructed are a must see.
The admission fee for CIS nationals is 4000 Soum, for other countries citizens – 6000 Soum per person. For photography, extra 10000 Soum are needed to be paid. It takes 2-3 hours to have a detailed visit around. However, there is nothing much to see apart from the decorations. It contains some interesting items on show, but mostly those are replica and can be seen in original elsewhere, for example in Samarkand.
Outside the museum, you can see a huge park with beautiful running fountains. It is a heaven for young couples with many restaurants in the vicinity. Broadway, a bazaar of branded shops is at walking distance from here. "Yunus Radjabiy" Metro Station connects this sight with entire Tashkent. From here, you can easily walk up – to Independence Square and can visit many other buildings around it.
The TV Tower is the highest building with open observation deck in Central Asia, and eleventh highest tower in the world, which is located in the heart of Tashkent. The overall height of it is 375 meters. Its construction began in 1978 and incorporates an ability to withstand Richter magnitude 9 earthquake. The Tower was launched on January 15, 1985.
Tashkent TV tower broadcasts five television and four radio programs; the Tower has the highest meteorological station.
The Тower has models on display at ground floor about TV towers and their history around the world. The observation area is an impressive site to have great views of Tashkent city.
The nearest metro station to the TV Tower is “Bodomzar” from where there is a straight walk of around one kilometre.
You will have to show your passport while purchasing the ticket (around 15 USD per person) and get through security control. Please note you are not allowed to take up any camera or any video camera. There are free lockers available at the ticket counter where you can put your stuff. A lift is there to take you upstairs to get a fabulous view of nearly the whole city of Tashkent, grounds around the tower especially War Memorial are great to see. The visitor can enjoy drinks and food in the revolving restaurant while having a panoramic view of the city. You may experience a large crowd waiting outside the lift on your way back so be patient!
Tashkent has a full cultural life. One of Central Asia's best cultural highlights for all visitors to Tashkent is the State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, named after the famous poet and scholar Alisher Navoi, where you can enjoy classical Western opera and ballet almost any night. Shows change daily – in just a week you can see Swan Lake, Carmen, Rigoletto and the Uzbek performances as well.
Located in the center of Tashkent, the State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet was established in 1939 and originates from the Uzbek State Concert-Ethnographic Ensemble (1926). The building was built The theatre has a capacity of 1,400 spectators; main stage is 540 square meters. The prices for tickets vary from 5,000 to 30,000 Soum.
The building of the Opera and Ballet Theatre deserves particular attention. It was built by the same architect who designed Lenin's Tomb in Moscow, Aleksey Shchusev, with Japanese prisoner of war labour in World War II. Shchusev was able to connect classical theatre facilities and oriental architecture. Japanese prisoners of the World War II took part in the construction. The building has six foyer; each is decorated in a style typical of one of the regions of Uzbekistan. Wall space is also decorated with beautiful scenery, and outside the building, you can see musical fountain.
Nowadays the Theatre is undergoing a total renovation. During its reconstruction, the performances take place at the Palace of Arts "Turkistan" at Navoi Avenue near Mustakillik Metro Station.
10. Alisher Navoi National Park
Alisher Navoi National Park was opened in 1937. The total park area is 65 hectares, and the water surface is 9 hectares.
This is the most romantic park in Tashkent, which in addition to the lake and other attractions, has even a railway existing since 1940. It is a real railroad – with rails, locomotive, carriages and semaphores, but in a reduced form. The machinists, station duty officers and check-takers are teenagers aged 12 to 16 years.
The park is a beautiful garden, and being there in the springtime is particularly wonderful as you can delight in the floral wonders of flowering plants, trees and bushes. There is a monument of Alisher Navoi – famous Uzbek poet, scholar, and political figure – where wedding couples take photo session. There is a lake as well where you can swim in summer, rest under the trees, boat and have fun with your children.
You can get to the park by metro; nearest station is “Milliy Bog”.
11. Japanese Garden
In the vicinity of International Hotel, Aqua Land and local Disney Land there is a quiet and peaceful place – Japanese Garden. It was established in 2001, and now is a very popular attraction in Tashkent for romantic strolls, relaxation, enjoying nature and having photo sessions for newlyweds.
There are two parts in the Japanese park: garden with stones and trees, and garden with a pond, creek, and blooming meadows. Also you can watch a tea ceremony in the Tea House. Japanese Park in Uzbekistan is always different: at dawn, in the moonlight, in the sun and after rain; it is gentle in spring and mature in autumn.
The admission fee is 10,000-15,000 Soum. The snacks and beverages inside are quite expensive. And do not forget to bring bread to feed the ducks!
If you want to feel the culture of Uzbekistan people, you should visit the Uzbekistan State Museum of Arts. Founded in 1918, the Museum is one of the oldest in the country. The collection is based on the private collection of Grand Duke Nikolay Konstantinovich Romanov who lived in Tashkent in exile at the beginning of XX century.
The Museum contains a major collection of art from the pre-Russian period, including Sogdian murals, Buddhist statues and Zoroastrian art, along with a more modern collection of XIX and XX century applied art, such as suzani – embroidered hangings. From Ancient Uzbek stone and tilework to European masters and avant-garde – you can find here a comprehensive selection of art.
The first and second floors of the Museum have some spectacular pieces of woodcarving, pottery, wall carvings, carpets, bronze and copper work and embroidery as well as paintings depicting Uzbekistan.
The admission fee is 10,000 Soum. Museum shop sells souvenirs and pieces of Uzbek handicraft. Working hours of the Museum: 10.00 – 17.00, Monday is a day off.
The nearest metro station is Ming Oriq/Oybek (where the green and blue lines meet).
The Museum was founded in 1937 based on a temporary exhibition of handicraft. The collection is over 7,000 items, revealing the history of decorative arts of Uzbekistan: woodcarving, ceramics, coinage, art jewellers, embroidery, gold embroidery, and patterns of mass production of the local industry.
The building itself is quite remarkable, with mosaics facing the street and the old, richly decorated villa inside the yard. The building was constructed in the early XX century that was the former home of an Imperial Russian diplomat.
There are two shops within the museum where visitors can buy pieces of handicraft: paintings, graphics, porcelain, carpets, embroideries, fabrics, jewellery, souvenirs, embossing, and varnish miniature. The goods there are more expensive than ones at bazaars are.
Working hours of the Museum: 09.00 – 18.00 daily, ticket windows close at 17.00. The admission fee is 8,500 Soum, and extra 4,500 Soum should be paid for camera. The Museum provides guided tours in Uzbek, Russian, English, German and French languages.
The State Museum of History of Uzbekistan, previously known as the National Museum of Turkestan, was founded in 1876. It is the oldest museum in the country that holds over 250 thousand items of the archaeology, history, numismatics, and ethnography of Uzbekistan.
Here you can see the history of Uzbekistan from ancient times to the modern ages, and the complete panorama of the complex events occurred through times in this area. Uzbekistan is a blend of Hellenistic, Zoroastrian, Persian, Islamic roots and much more; exhibits range from Stone Age to modern times highlighting the medieval emirates, Soviet times and independence days.
Some artifacts demonstrated in this museum are replica of those taken abroad and is demonstrated in the museums of London or Paris. In the Museum shop, you can buy pieces of folk art of Uzbekistan – miniatures, carpets, ceramics, and the national fabrics.
Opening hours: 10.00 – 17.00, Monday is a day off. The admission fee is 10,000 Soum, and extra 25,000-35,000 Soum should be paid for camera.