- Place or Religious Monument
- Place or Historical Monument
I really liked Tashkent! I got to see another side of Uzbekistan. One can sense the economic development and arrival of modernity in a way that's very different from the very touristy cities of the West.
The Chorsu Bazaar is a good example, with booths set up in a renovated building in the city center. On the outer edge, there are mostly rickety stalls that bring to mind the rest of Central Asia, with liveliness but not a lot of racket.
With wide avenues in the city center and along the main arteries and two parks, you would think you're spending time in a modern city in North America. For a short time however, the military at all the metro stops and principal monuments in the president's glory bring us back to the reality of the dictatorial nature of the country.
Another dark shadow: the poorer neighbourhoods between the city center and the Chorsu Bazaar are hidden from tourists by big white walls, like in Samarkand.
Full of paradoxes and a schizophrenic, frenetic city, Tashkent, the historic and the modern, bridges the gap between its ultramodern center with its megalomaniac, Soviet-influenced official buildings, and a rural, traditional city of bazaars and mosques with friendly, welcoming inhabitants and an anarchic outlook on life.
It would be a stretch to say that I liked Tashkent as a place. The city is noisy and tiring, and the traffic jams are a constant feature. Nonetheless, it would be just as wrong to say that I disliked Tashkent: the city is seductive, festive, and enthusiastic, with a fabulous range of restaurants, bars, and nightlife. With that in mind, my recommendation is simply that you visit the city as an unmissable part of a journey to Uzbekistan and form your own opinion of the place! Moreover, it's all but impossible to take a trip to Uzbekistan without passing through Tashkent at some stage!
I arrived in Tashkent in the small hours of the morning, after spending hours getting out of the airport due to a strike. My initial impression was of a depressingly gray capital city with broad modern boulevards. While this first impression didn't give a sense of the place's rich history, a day spent wandering around various neighborhoods in the company of a guide rectified the situation.
The city can be divided into the old Tashkent, and the more modern districts. We started in the old town, where we wandered around and explored the city's wide open squares, Amir Timur Square and its statute of Timur, Independence Square, the Alisher Navoi Theater, the presidential palace, and buildings that were built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
In the historic part of town, I particularly recommend that you visit the Sheikhanatur Mausoleum and the madrassas of Kukeldash, Barakhan, and Abdul Kassim Madrassas. I also loved the lively atmosphere of the Chorsu Bazaar. As for museums, the Decorative Arts Museum is well worth a visit, hosting a beautiful collection of embroideries, jewels that were given as dowries at weddings, tapestries, and ceramics. The building that houses the museum is former diplomatic residence, and it is sublime.