The capital of the country is Tashkent (Stone City). It is situated in the foothills of Tien Shan, in the very centre of blossoming oasis in the Chirchik River valley. Tashkent had been the crossover of different trade routs for many centuries; that formed its extremely varied look. The first information about Tashkent appeared in eastern chronicles of 2nd century – running trough the Great Silk Road caravans had already passed trough blossoming Shash city (ancient name of Tashkent). Chinese sources named it Yuni, and in famous inscription on “Kaaba of Zoroaster” (262 year BC) it was mentioned as Chach oasis. Manuscripts claim that there were beautiful palaces among gardens, mosques, and shady streets. In 8th-11th centuries the city was named Binkent. In the beginning of 13th century, on the eve of Mongolian conquest, Shash oasis had been completely ruined by the army of Mukhammad Khorezm shah. In 14th-15th centuries the city was revived again as a trade and cultural centre of Timur’s and Timurid Empire, expending intensively into the south and east, becoming one of the biggest cities of that time. For its existence Tashkent had endured ups and downs, but it always remained on the crossover of trade routes; also, it was the centre of unique Central Asian culture. Profitable location had predetermined the choice of this city as capital of republic. Awful earthquake of 1966 almost completely ruined the city. However, with the help of habitants’ diligence and all USSR republics the city was rebuilt during 10-15 years, and now this is one of the most colorful cities of the region. Just few historical buildings, mosques, and mausoleums have left from old Tashkent. However, “old city”, or it is called “eski-shakhar”, still shows the labyrinth of its narrow streets, low wattle and daub buildings, mosques, and madrassas (Muslim educational institutions). The best samples of ancient architecture of the capital are Sheikhantaur ensemble, composed of 3 mausoleums – Yunus-khan (15th), Sheikhantaur (15th-19th), and Kaldirghach-Biy with its famous dodecagonal pyramidal cupolas (15th); also, Zainutdin-Bobo mausoleum (16th), Sufi-Ota mausoleum (16th), and architectural ensemble Khast-Imam with Barak-khan madrassah (16th-17th, on the foundation of 15th century buildings), Al-Bukhari institution, and Kaffali-Shash mausoleum (15th). These mosques are not less interesting: Jami (Juma, 16th), Mirza-Yusuf (19th), Khairabat-Eshon (18th-19th), and Sheikh-Tilla on the Khast-Imam square. There are also several orthodox churches, convents, and even Roman Catholic Church – tolerance of local governors was always widely known. There are many museums in Tashkent. Most famous among them are: National Museum of Art with vast collection of paintings, ceramics, royal regalia, and “suzani” (“syuzane”, embroidered ornamental panels in Persian style), State Library, new Museum of Amir Timur, Museum of history of Uzbekistan, Museum of applied art of Uzbekistan (opened in 1937, nearly 30 thousand samples of cottage craft items and jewelries), Museum of Literature, Museum of history of railroads, etc. World-known Theatre of opera and ballet of Alisher Navoi with fine square in front of it, Conservatory, 9 theatres, and many other cultural spiritual institutions deserve your instant attention. As everywhere on the East, there are many bazaars and markets in Tashkent, the best of which are the oldest bazaar Eski-Juwa and Chorsu (near Kukeldash madrassah). There is Zangi-Ata village 15 km to the south of Tashkent, where 2 ancient mausoleums are situated – Zangi-Ata and of his wife Ambar-Bibi (14th). There is wide garden, monumental complex (14th-19th), madrassah (18th-19th), mosque (1870) with minaret (1914-1915), and ancient cemetery around them.
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