A last report from Uzbekistan – its capital, Tashkent with a population exceeding three millions.
The trip from Samarkand (see preceding post) to Tashkent was made by train, a very comfortable “Talgo” high speed train under the name “Afrosiyob”. The 344 km (214 miles) are made in about two hours.
Tashkent got the Turkic name “Tashkand” (City of Stone) during the 10th century, later transformed to Tashkent by Russian spelling. Its history is similar to what I have described in my earlier Uzbekistan posts. The Russians arrived in 1865 and Tashkent became the capital of the Russian Turkistan, in 1918 the capital of the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, in 1924 of the Uzbek Soviet Republic and since 1991 of an independent Uzbekistan.
The city suffered from an important earthquake in 1966 when some 80.000 buildings were destroyed. This means also that relatively little architectural heritage has survived. Some of the older parts of the city had already been modified by the Russians, other parts were after the earthquake rebuilt according to a Soviet model with wide streets, large places for parades, monumental buildings…. since then partly replaced with more modern buildings. One example of Soviet style buildings is the gigantic Hotel Uzbekistan (see top picture) where I stayed – it has probably seen better days. Timur (see previous Uzbekistan posts) on a horse has of course a central place. We can see one older building which has been saved for official government receptions – it used to be a mansion for Romanov Tsar-family members.
A visit of the Museum of Uzbekistan History is worthwhile (no photos allowed inside).
Some mosques, mausoleums, madrasas… remain and have been restored during the 1990’s. One of them is the Hast Imam complex where you also can find the oldest still existing Koran, the “Kufic Quran”, which dates from the 8th century (no photos allowed). Timur brought it from Kufa (now in Iraq) to his capital Samarkand, where it stayed until 1869, when the Russians transferred it to St. Petersburg. Finally it was in 1924 brought to where it now is.
Here we can see what in the outskirts of the present city remains of a settlement, which obviously was occupied as from the 5th century BC until the Arabs arrived during the 8th century. The excavations are not finished, still a lot to be found.
Around this mausoleum is a cemetery. It’s interesting to see how some graves are extremely simple, no stones or anything, just a plate with a name. Others, recent ones, have the portraits of the occupants.
Once more, the inevitable photos of the local market, not only for food, but also for wedding dresses…
Here are some photos from (fairly) recent housing and from suburbs. One can notice that a lot (too much?) is done when it comes to housing in Uzbekistan. Many buildings stay empty. Renting seems to be non-existent, ownership seems to be compulsory. Too costly?
Ran into another extravagant marriage celebration.
You can still find some old Moskvitch, Volga… cars in Uzbekistan. Almost all new cars are Chevrolets. (Thee manufacturer is a GM/Uzbekistan State common venture.) There are very heavy duties on imported cars. If Ford originally had the reputation to offer only black cars, it seems that Chevrolet in Uzbekistan offers only white ones.
This is my last post on my trip to Uzbekistan. I wish to repeat how much I liked the beautiful things I saw, but perhaps even more the contact with the smiling and friendly population.
On the way home, I stopped for a few days in Istanbul. Next post…