|Tashkent was the fourth largest city in the
Soviet Union but you wouldn't know it with the sheep that wander the streets
under the watchful eye of their turbaned shepherds. But as Tico after Tico races
by, followed by hundreds of Daewoo Nexias, and the metro rumbles underneath, you
begin to understand the complexity that is Tashkent.
Architecture. Old City
Much of the city is relatively new and is a showpiece of Soviet and post-Soviet
architecture. In 1966 an earthquake levelled most old structures and in the
following years workers streamed in from around the Soviet Union to rebuild this
paradise of communism in the middle of Asia. The "Old City," centered around Chorsu, still contains some of the
For the traveller much remains
to be seen though Tashkent is often overlooked in the search for the Silk Road
oasis towns of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. Today one can visit such striking
sights as Mausoleum of Sheikh Zaynudin Bobo,
Mausoleum of Zangiata. It is only
Tashkent that melds Sufism, Marxism and Capitalism, the East, West and Russia,
as well as tradition and modernism. Other Central Asian capitals lack the
complexity and overall cultural mix of Tashkent.
With its population of 2.4 million, Tashkent is a large city. Being Soviet,
there is no clear downtown area. The closest to the feeling of a downtown
area is Saligokh (another reading Sail'goh) Street - "Broadway," a walking street stretching between Mustakillik Mayodony
(Independence Square) and Amir
Timur Hiyebony (Amir
Timur Square) (map).
Nearby are other sights of interest:
Alisher Navoi Theater
Amir Timur Museum
Museum of applied Arts (map),
Fine Arts museum
Historical museum (map),
Christian Temples, Anchor Canal, Earthquake Memorial, Independence Square (also, incidentally, the
largest square in the Soviet Union), Halklar Dustligi (Friendship of the Peoples
Palace), Tashkent TV Tower, Alisher Navoii Park, and the Tashkent Metro
There are many restaurants and cafes throughout the city. For the best
traditional food the streets beyond Chorsu, the "Chagatai" region, contain
numerous home restaurants where delectable shashlik, salads and soups may be
had. Be sure to try Kuksi, a cold Korean soup available at Korean cafes. This is
a tasty and very refreshing dish during the heat of summer.
Learn more about Tashkent:
Tashkent History |
Kukeldash Madrasah. History |
of Khoja Ahrar
Sheikhantaur. History |
Earthquake in 1966. History |
in new city |
street. History |
Christian Temples in Tashkent. History
Gates of Tashkent
The Gates of Tashkent were built around the town at the close of the 10th
century but did not survive to the present. The last gate was destroyed in 1890
as a result of the growth of the city, but some of the districts in Tashkent
still bear the names of these gates.
History and architecture
The gates formed a part of the city fortifications, which had been constructed
around the new settlement on the banks of the Bozsuv canal (the canal starts
from the right shore of Chirchik river) at the intersection of caravan roads
Tien Shan Mountains. The number of gates varied over time.
Fifteenth-century sources mention that the gates were named after local
as each tribe was put in charge to guard a specific gate.
In the mid-19th century the city wall was rebuilt by the
governor (bekliyarbeck). There were twelve gates: Labzak, Takhtapul, Karasaray,
Sagban, Chagatay, Kukcha, Samarkand, Kamalan, Beshagach, Koymas, Kokand and
Kashgar. Some of the gates were named after the cities they led to (e.g.
Samarkand darvaza means ''Samarkand gate'', as it was located at the beginning
of the road to
Samarkand). Other gates were given the names of the main streets inside
the city (e.g., Chagatay darvaza). The gates were made of
wood and framed with artistically wrought iron. Each gate had a gatehouse for a
tax-collector (''zakatchi'') and security guard (''darvazabon''). The gates were
open from daybreak till sunset. At nighttime the gates were locked and guarded
In June 1865 Russian troops successfully stormed Tashkent. General
Mikhail Grigorevich Cherniaev had only 3,000 men under his command
against a city with a 25-kilometer-long wall, 12 gates and 30,000 defenders. The
Russians captured the city after two days of fighting and the loss of only 25
dead. The local nobility and inhabitants of Tashkent felt little loyalty towards
the authority of the Kokand khanate, therefore they preferred to surrender the
town to Russians.
The Story of the Twelve Keys
On June 30, 1865 the representatives of the Tashkent nobility brought 12 gold
keys from the gates of Tashkent to the Russian camp near Chimgan, a military
village in the hills about 56 miles to the northeast from Tashkent. It was a
sign of recognition of the victory of the Russian army.
After 1867 the army camp at Chimgan became an acclimatization station for
military newcomers from Russia. During the Soviet period it was rebuilt to adapt
its premises for use as a summer camp for children (now a recreation camp where
campers still live at former military casernes). The surrounding area is still
referred to as the "Twelve-Keys".
The keys were delivered to
Petersburg, where they were kept at the Suvorov Military Museum. In 1933
they were returned to Tashkent. One can see one of the keys at the History
museum. Others are stored at the National bank. Each of the keys has an
inscription engraved with the name of a particular gate and the date when a key
article is associated with conformable
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