Tashkent, the capital and the cultural and economic center of Uzbekistan, is home to more than four million people, which makes it the largest city in Central Asia. In 1966, a heavy earthquake destroyed a significant part of Tashkent, especially the old part of the city. Tashkent was completely restored by multiple architects and planners from all over the Soviet Union, who built wide avenues, concrete buildings and plenty of parks following the classic Soviet city model. As a result, modern Tashkent is filled with Islamic and Soviet architecture (more with the second).
Metro in Tashkent
During the city restoration, the metro system was introduced in Tashkent. A metro-ride in Tashkent costs 1400 som, you will get a plastic token to enter through the turnstile. There are three metro lines in Tashkent and if you are on a super-low budget, you can cover the main attractions by public transportation.
Where to eat in Tashkent
The restaurant “Khiva” in the Hyatt residence (1 Navoi Avenue, Tashkent 100017, Uzbekistan, internet page: https://www.hyattrestaurants.com/en/dining/uzbekistan/tashkent/restaurant-in-hyatt-regency-tashkent-khiva-restaurant) is an excellent choice for a dinner. The service is extremely good (maybe even a bit too attentive) and the food is delicious! The staff speaks English and Russian. The chef cooks in front of your eyes and the atmosphere is very pleasant and relaxed. Plov costs under 5 Euro and you will be more than satisfied with the size of the portion!
Central Asian Plov Center (1 Guards Colonel Khodjaev Street, Tashkent, Uzbekistan) is a place (or The Place) where you can taste different kinds of traditional Uzbek plov. Wedding plov and chaykhana plov is always available during the lunch time. The Plov Center is open from 9 AM to 5 PM. If you want to see the chefs in action preparing plov in huge saucepans stirred with stirring spoons the size of paddles, visit the Central Asian Plov Center before 12 AM, the preparations start at around 10 AM. A plov meal costs from 10,000 to 50,000 som.
What to see in Tashkent
Hazrat Imam Complex (Karasaray Street, Tashkent, Uzbekistan) is definitely worth a visit when you are in Tashkent. This is the official religious center in the city and one of the top Tashkent tourist attractions. I would recommend to go there during the “magic hour” in the evening as the background colors are wonderful and you have the place all to yourself.
We were also immensely impressed by a construction site next to the Hazrat Imam Complex, which featured an even bigger mosque being built…
Chorsu Bazaar is a large, impressive historic market with stalls selling local food, souvenirs, clothing and household items. The main building is covered with a blue dome and is hard to oversee. This market is a must see in Tashkent as this is one of the most important markets in Central Asia which has been active for centuries. The locals also come to the bazaar for shopping, which makes it also a great place to observe the ethnic and cultural blend Tashkent is famous for.
Kulkedash Madrassa. Within 10 minutes walking distance from the Chorsu Bazar you can reach the Kulkedash Madrassa. Kulkedash madrassa or Ko’kaldosh Madrasasi is one of the most historic buildings in town: since the 16th century, it has been an Islamic school, a caravanserai, a fortress and a place where public executions were held.
From there you can take a short detour to the Dzhuma Mosque which was built in the end of the 15th century. I was unsure if women were allowed on its grounds as only men were seen around. In any case, make sure you wear appropriate clothes and cover your hair in order to enter the territory of the mosque.
Amir Timur Square (Skver Im. Amira Temura), the central square of the city is almost impossible to miss when you are in Tashkent. A huge statue of the king Amir Timur adorns the square. This square is a place where many young locals hang on together.
Palace of International Forums (Dvorets Mezhdunarodnykh Forumov), the country’s most important representative building is designed as a platform for hosting acts of state, congresses, conferences and other cultural highlights. Its interior is even more stunning as its exterior and can be checked out here: https://ifgroup.org/en/project/773/palace-of-international-forums-uzbekistan/.
Monument of Courage (Earthquake Memorial) (74 Sharaf Rashidov Avenue, Tashkent, Uzbekistan) – an impressive memorial dedicated to the earthquake on 26 April 1966 in Tashkent which left over half the city in ruins.