Tashkent- The Stone Fortress
Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital, shows its shimmering roots as a Silk Road city even today. The 2,000 year-old-city is a major exporter to Eastern Europe of silk, cotton and textiles, as well as oil, coal, copper, sulfur, rice and manufactured products such as television sets, automobiles and tractors.
Yet, this city, whose name means “Stone Fortress” -- a title adopted in the 11th century, though Tashkent’s roots date back to the dawn of the first millennia A.D. -- has the look of a modern metropolis. Little remains of the old city, thanks to a leveling April, 1966, earthquake and the subsequent Soviet rebuilding.
Tashkent became a Muslim city in the 8th century AD, and was an important commercial center during the Middle Ages. Wars and natural calamities have swept most of the buildings dating back to the time of the ancient city. Among the survivors are: The Kukeldash Madrassah (XVII c.), the Sheikhantaur Ensamble (XV c.) and the Khazrati- Imam Complex (XVI c.). The city encountered many invadors: in 1220 the city became part ofthe empire of Genghis Khan and later in 1865 part of the Russian empire.
The Russian influence pre-dates this century; in 1865, the Tsar’s forces took the city, establishing Tashkent as the capital of Imperial Russia’s Turkistan “satrapy,” and, with the arrival of the Trans-Caspian Railway in 1889, the link with Russia was forged. During the Russian Revolution, the area saw widespread violence as White Russians and local nationalists unsuccessfully battled the Red wave.
Despite its modern appearance, Tashkent lacks neither beauty nor culture; this city of 2.3 million is surprisingly green, thanks to its beautifully laid-out parks and its glistening fountains. For the kids, Tashkent’s famous Uzbek Puppet Theater, established in 1939, holds an ages-old thrall that proves modern media can’t compete with old-fashioned entertainment.
The city also boasts more than 15 colleges, a renowned university and academy of sciences, and a wealth of theaters and museums, including the Museum of Cinematic Art and the Museum of History of the Peoples of Uzbekistan.
For researchers, the city offers resources galore, including the Alisher Navoi State Library, dating back to 1870, the Republic of Uzbekistan State Archives (including major pre-Soviet holdings) and the Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences Library.
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