Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan and the largest economic and cultural centre of the country. At various stages of its long history, Tashkent was known as Shash, Chachkent, Shashkent and Binket. The name "Tashkent" is first mentioned in the works of Abu-Raikhon Beruni and Mahmud Kashgari (11th century). Tashkent is the Uzbek word for "stone town". How can we explain this name if in the construction of the city stone was rarely used? It was the hardness of the inhabitants more than once protecting their city from attacks of invaders that was compared by local people with a stone.
The territory of Tashkent makes up 260 square km. Tashkent is located in the north-east of Uzbekistan, in the picturesque valley of the Chirchik River which takes its source from the spurs of the Tian-Shan, at the height of 440-480 metres above the sea level. In clear weather snowy peaks of the Tian-Shan Mountains are visible. More than 2.3 million reside in the capital (approximately, 10% of population of the country).
A more authentic picture of Tashkent was drawn with the invasion of Arabs in the 8th century. The city grew into an important trading post on the Great Silk Road, from China to the Mediterranean countries, when it was busting with commerce. As it was described in the annals there had been beautiful palaces among green gardens, temples and streets of craftsmen. In the capital craftsmen were engaged in metal processing, weaving cotton and woollen clothes, manufacturing of weapons, ceramics, jewellery.
It saw different dynasties of rules of which the prominent were the Samanids in the 9th century and the Karakhanids in the 10th - 11th centuries. The invasion of the Mongol hordes in the 13th century brought a short delay in the development of Tashkent. This continued until history reverted to the turbulent path of the later Genghisids and the grand Timurid dynasties (the 14th - 15th centuries) when Tashkent got its importance of a strong fortress. Its territory was extended, manufacture, trade, culture developed.
In the 16th century the city was once more ransacked by an invader from the north - Shaybanid Khan, leader of the nomadic Uzbek Turks, who were to give their name to the whole region. Tashkent adapted to this new ruler and built up its wealth again. The city was a part of the State of Shaybanids as an independent principality of one of them, Suyunidj khan. During this period extensive building work was carried out. Monumental buildings as mausoleums, mosques, madrasahs appeared.
In the next centuries there were three states on the territory of Central Asia: the Bukhara Emirate, the Khiva and Kokand Khanates. Tashkent passed from hand to hand, from one khanate to another. In the second half of the 18th century Tashkent was attached to the Bukhara Khanate. In the early 19th century the Khan of Kokand conquered city. At that time due to growing commerce with Russia Tashkent turned into a prosperous trading city, one of the largest cities in the region.
In the 19th century Tashkent was a Central Asian centre of trade with Russia. Looking for new markets, the Russians regarded Tashkent as the strategic key to Central Asia. In 1865 the Tsarist army captured Tashkent and the city as well as all Turkestan became the constituent of the Russian Empire. In 1867 the Governorate General of Turkestan with the administrative centre in Tashkent was formed. At the end of the 19th century Tashkent was roughly divided into an old Asian and new Russian towns. After the Bolshevik revolution in 1918 the Republic of Turkestan was proclaimed. In 1930 Tashkent became the capital of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. Since 1991 Tashkent is the capital of Independent Republic of Uzbekistan.
Sightseeing and excursions
Tashkent City tour 01 - Half-day
The main city square Mustakillik (Independence Square) is an administrative and political centre of the city, where most of celebrations, national holidays take place.
Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum of the 16th century is a mausoleum of one of the first imams of Muslim world, who lived from 904 to 979 AD.
Barak Khan Madrasah was constructed in the middle of the 16th century by the order of Barak Khan, the son of Suyunidj Khan, a founder of Tashkent Shaybanid dynasty. Nowadays it houses Muslim Religious Board of Uzbekistan, the administrative centre of the Mufti of Uzbekistan.
Tillya Sheikh Mosque (constructed in 1902) is a functioning mosque possessing a rich Islamic library with ancient manuscripts. The highlight of the library is the immense Osman Koran, one of the world's oldest copies (1200 years old).
Namazgokh Mosque built in the middle of the 19th century, now it houses the Imam Ismail Al-Bukhari Islamic Institute.
The Square "Chorsu" is the centre of an ancient Tashkent. It appeared in the 11th century and was a four-road junction, a place of trade.
The Jammi (Friday) Mosque, nearby the Kukeldash Madrasah was erected in the middle of the 15th century by influential Islamic leader Khodja Akhrar (1404-1492).
"Chorsu" bazaar - on the right of the square Chorsu, is the oldest city market, which was rebuilt according to the ancient style. It is picturesque, noisy and full of local colour.
Tashkent City tour 02 - Half-day
The Amir Timur Square is the centre of what was once known as the "new Russian city. It appeared in 1883, when Russians first settled in Tashkent. Since then the Square has always reflected the ruling government's policy at that time. At present a gigantic statue of Amir Timur (1336-1405) mounted on a horse stands in the centre of the square. However, it was not always so. Earlier to him the statue of Karl Marx and before him Joseph Stalin occupied the place. But it all started with the statue of Constantine Kaufmann who was the first Russian Governor of Turkestan.
The Theatre Square with the building of Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre is the city's cultural centre. The architecture of the theatre, constructed in 1947, combines the European and oriental styles.
The Square of Friendship with a monument of the same name in front of the Palace of People's Friendship is a modern cultural city square.
The Abdul Kassim Madrasah, built in the beginning of the 19th century is on the territory of the National Alisher Navoi Park. The cells of madrasah are occupied by craft workshops.
Tashkent City tour 03 - Half-day
The Fine Arts Museum of Uzbekistan displays a fine collection of art of different epochs. Visitors can see the Zoroastrian artifacts, 1000-year-old Buddhist statues, and Sogdian mural as well as 19th and 20th century items.
Tashkent Metro is the only underground system of Central Asia with beautifully decorated stations.
The monument "Courage" is remembrance of the earthquake of 1966.
Excursion to Ensemble Zanghi-Ata (14-19 centuries) - Half-day
A half-day excursion to visit a sacred place, now known as Zanghi-Ata. It is situated nearby Tashkent on the old caravan route. This ensemble is a monument of urban art and architecture of different periods of medieval epoch and associated with the name of Amir Timur.
Excursion to Chimgan - Full day
A full-day excursion to a mountain resort called Chimgan. It is situated on the south shore of the Charvak Reservoir, 80 km from Tashkent in the western region of the Tian-Shan mountain range. It is popular in spring and summer for its fresh air and picturesque landscape, mountains covered with green grass and blooming trees. During winter it is renowned as a favourite ski resort.