Dushanbe Tajikistan

For someone who does not have an in-depth knowledge of the Central Asia region, Tajikistan and its capital, Dushanbe, belong to the group of five countries referred to as the “Stans” in Central Asia. However, Tajikistan is of a different brand: its history and language is of Persian rather than Turkish origin, it is a gateway to Afghanistan and South Asia and its mountainous traits (the country is set among the Pamir and Fan mountains) have given Tajikistan some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world.

Dushanbe is no exception to this overall characterization of Tajikistan, with the notable comment that, as most of the cities of the former Soviet Union, there are some additions from that period that occasionally spoil the view. Not all is bad, however: the Soviet policy of systematizing the city meant that Dushanbe has a number of wide, beautiful avenues, lined with trees, and buildings such as the Opera Theater or the Museum of Antiquities.

The best place to start a tour of Dushanbe would be, however, the Barakat market, one of the typical Asian bazaars one can enjoy in Dushanbe. The covered part of the bazaar is for food, notably vegetable and fruit, with clothes and other products outside. It is less an opportunity to make huge bargains as a chance to watch and interact with Tajiks, many in beautiful costumes.

The Somoni monument is a must, at least because it is the most famous site in Dushanbe and people are likely to ask about it. It used to be the site of the largest statue of Lenin in Central Asia. As with all former Soviet states, Lenin’s statue was knocked down and replaced with what was identified as the primordial leader of the country. In the case of Tajikistan and the Somoni monument, he was Ismail Samani, referred to as “Amir Adil” or the Just Commander. During his time (he lived in the 10th century AD), Tajikistan was founded and grew as a powerful state.

Another interesting site in Dushanbe is the Museum of National Antiquities, worth a visit at least because it is the site of the largest Buddha discovered in Central Asia. The sleeping Buddha is 31 meters long.

As in all other places, the fun of the travel comes not from specific museums and sites described in the guide, but rather through the chance of absorbing the local atmosphere. To do that, enter small coffee shops and enjoy a cup of tea, along with some Tajik sweets.