Nadezhda Dukhovny
Nadezhda Dukhovny

Tashkent: ‘The breadbasket of the country’

“The breadbasket of the country,” they told one to another as they fled the wars, the pogroms, and political persecution in search of shelter and food. And Tashkent took in them all not asking their names, adopting the children that were left without parents. A melting pot, that was formed by many nations forced to leave their homes. Jews, Koreans, Germans, Greeks, Russians, Tartars, and many, many others. 130 nationalities live in peace in Uzbekistan nowadays.

My grandparents fled to Tashkent and stayed to live their lives there. I am a representative of the second generation of my family born in Uzbekistan. Many of us live in different countries now, scattered all over the world, but I know that each of us keeps the warmest memories of the homeland. How do I know that? Because we stay in touch and share our memories as we speak. We have left the country but it never leaves us. It remains in us to bring back the best of what it could have offered.

Tashkent, the capital of present-day Uzbekistan, is one of the biggest cities of Central Asia and is called “Star of the Orient” and “Messenger of Peace”. These names amazingly reflect the very essence of the city, which for more than 20 centuries has been symbolically illuminating with the light of peace and kindness the lives of both its inhabitants and the road for travelers. In 2019, the city celebrated its 2,300th anniversary.

The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

Tashkent is rich in archaeological monuments. None of the Central Asian towns has been studied so thoroughly by scientists as the capital of Uzbekistan. Only ten years ago there were 39 known archaeological monuments on the territory of the city, whereas today there have been excavated more than 240 monuments.

Around the end of the II – beginning of I century BC, the Chinese chronicles mentioned the city as Uni. The scientists believe that Uni was located on the territory of modern Tashkent. In the past, Tashkent had other different names: Yuni, Chach, Shash, Binkent. Its present name was first introduced in the 11th century works by Beruniy and Makhmud Kashgariy.

According to the local pronunciation, the place was called “Chach”. The main city was called Chacha, i.e., Chachkent or Shashkent. Subsequently, the meaning of the word changed and turned into Tashkent. Around the end of the II – the beginning of the I century BC, the Chinese chronicles mentioned the city as Uni. The scientists believe that Uni was located on the territory of modern Tashkent. In the VI-VII centuries AD, the territory of Tashkent was part of the Chach State, and Turkic governors lived here. In 713, the first Arab troops entered Shash. The conquest failed, and after that, the Maliks had ruled Shash for decades. Only in the year 751, after a big battle between the Arabs and the Chinese, who also tried to seize Shash, the Arabs consolidated their victory. One unique monument has been survived in Tashkent from that period – Khast Imam Ensemble.

The city became a trade and craft center by the IX-X centuries. The citadel and the inner city – Shakhristan were located on the hills. Now it is the center of the old “Chorchu” bazaar. A palace and a prison were located beyond the walls of the citadel. The part of the tower of the ancient citadel wall could be seen near the Tashkent Circus until recently. Some gates of the citadel led into the suburbs – Rabad, others – towards Shakhristan. The latter was surrounded by a separate wall and had three gates.

In 1220, the Mongols led by Genghis Khan conquered Central Asia. During the Mongol conquest, the Mongols and the new masses of Turkic nomads mixed with the local population.

Between the end of the XIV and the beginning of XV centuries, Tashkent was very often mentioned in the description of the struggle, because of which the state of Amir Temur first developed and then fell apart. Some of the survived architectural monuments in Tashkent are associated with this era, for example, the building complex near the Shaykhantaur Mazar. Among them is Yunus Khan Mausoleum that is interesting for its carved, stone half-columns in the interior.

At the beginning of the XVI century, Tashkent became part of the Sheibanids State. In the second half of the XVI century, Abdullah Khan of Bukhara began the siege of Tashkent and captured it. In 1723, Tashkent was subordinated to the Kalmyks.

In the second half of the XVIII century, the city began to recognize the authority of Bukhara again. During this period, Tashkent was divided into four parts. One of the city’s mayors, Yunus, began the battle with other mayors and seized the power. Under Yunus’ rule, a city wall surrounded Tashkent, because it had to withstand constantly the struggle with the Kokand Khanate. Nevertheless, in 1810, Tashkent was taken, first by the Kokand Khanate, and then in 1865 – by Russian troops.

At the beginning of the XX century, the city began to change – the so-called “New City” was built. Tashkent was divided into two parts – the old city and the new one. However, by 1940, according to the project, it was supposed to unite the two parts of the city. As a result of the reconstruction, a compact territory with developed infrastructure was obtained. The city was landscaped, impressive architectural structures, squares, parks, which can be seen to this day, were built.

The architectural look of old Tashkent has been developing for centuries, both under the influence of many-sided Oriental culture and due to natural factors. The urge for ways to protect from hot climate and earthquakes gave rise to peculiar know-hows in construction. There appeared interesting types of dwellings with covered yards, sliding shutters “keshgarcha”. Residential areas with a maze of narrow alleys formed the environment for standing out mosques, madrassahs, and mazars (cemeteries).

The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

Today Tashkent is a large industrial center with about 300 companies producing almost everything which contemporary person needs: from aircraft and tractors to TV sets and toys for children. Here the images of old times join the modern skyscrapers made of glass and metal, multilevel overbridges, parks, museums, fountains. Tashkent is rapidly becoming a modern developed international megapolis.

The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

In December last year, The British government approved technical assistance to start the second phase of studying the concept of creating an International Financial Center in Tashkent (TIFC).

The concept of the project will be prepared by an interagency working group with the participation of TheCityUK, a UK-based organization that brings together leading companies providing financial and legal services. A preliminary feasibility study for this project, prepared with the support of the British Embassy in Tashkent, was completed and made available for review this summer.

This was announced by Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Uzbekistan, Tim Torlot, at an online conference together with the leadership of the Capital Market Development Agency (ARRK), the Tashkent City Khokimiyat, the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in England.

The essence of the project is to determine the optimal model for the formation of a unique financial and legal ecosystem, as well as the necessary infrastructure for its full functioning. International rules and standards used in many financial centers around the world (for example, in New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, as well as the Astana city center (AIFC) are based on the principles of common / English law).

The annual Tashkent International Tourism Fair “Tourism on the Silk Road”, held under the auspices of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UN), plays a significant role in creating and maintaining the tourist image of Uzbekistan. The fair brings together professionals of the Uzbek and foreign tourism business, pursuing common goals – to improve and develop the industry by expanding business partnerships. Today TITF has acquired the status of one of the largest exhibitions in Central Asia.

Currently, there are 452 accommodation facilities in the capital of Uzbekistan, with a capacity exceeding 23,000 guests. In addition, the capital has over 110 family guest houses, guest facilities with a health program, hostels, boutique hotels and convalescent homes.

The places to see in Tashkent are varied according to the taste. One of the must-visit attractions in Tashkent for every tourist is the famous Timurids History Museum.

The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

It was opened in 1996 in honor of the 660th anniversary of the outstanding commander Amir Timur, also known worldwide as Tamerlane. The three-story rounded building of the Museum is framed by a dome in classic Oriental style. The interior is richly decorated with marble, unique paintings, and gold leaf. On the walls of the halls, a fresco depicts the life of Tamerlane, as well as paintings that convey the atmosphere of those times. The highlight of the Museum is a crystal chandelier with a height of 8.5 meters, which consists of 106 thousand pendants.

The Museum’s exhibits tell visitors about the history of Uzbekistan during the reign of the Timurid dynasty. The Museum has more than 3 thousand exhibits. Here you can see jewelry, clothing, musical instruments, tools, and other items of the middle ages. A copy of the Osman Koran, the Holy book of Muslims, is kept in the Central Hall. In the Museum you can also see numerous correspondence of Tamerlane and his descendants with the monarchs of European countries, paintings depicting the great commander, various miniatures, and models of famous monuments built in our country by the Timurid dynasty.

To get in touch with the cultural heritage of the Uzbek people, you need to visit a number of museums in Uzbekistan, but to learn about the history of craft art and see its masterpieces, it is enough to visit the Museum of applied art in Tashkent.

The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

The Museum was first opened in 1927 as an exhibition of works by master craftsmen of our country and was called the Museum of Handicrafts. However, in 1977, it received the status of a state Museum and was transformed into an existing Museum.

The Museum’s collection contains more than 7 thousand of the best works of masters from the beginning of the XIX century to the present time, including ceramics, jewelry, gold embroidery, national clothing, suzanis, carpets, skullcaps, miniatures, and paintings on wood, porcelain, musical instruments and much more.

In the capital of Uzbekistan, on the bank of the Ankhor river, there is a Minor mosque – one of the newest attractions of Tashkent.

The opening of the mosque took place before a significant event for the Muslim world – the Eid al-Fitr holiday in 2014.

During construction, all the norms for traditional Oriental architecture were observed, but the mosque differs from the more ancient ones in its white marble decoration. It can accommodate more than 2,500 people. On Sunny days, the shrine shines in the sun. The Minor consists of a grand avenue planted with greenery, and inside there is a large hall decorated with quotations from the Holy book of the Koran and a mark pointing to Mecca made of gold.

The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

The Alley of Writers is a completely new and unique place in the city of Tashkent, which has no analog anymore. It is located in the National Park of Uzbekistan named after Alisher Navoi, in the Chilanzar region on Furkat street, near the parliament of Uzbekistan. Recently, another highlight of the park has become the literary alley, which is a well-groomed path on the way of which monuments to outstanding Uzbek writers form a single ensemble. Their composition includes the monuments of Hamid Alimjan, Gafur Gulyam, Zulfiya, Abdulla Kakhhar, Oybek, Said Ahmad, and, of course, the great Turkic poet Alisher Navoi, whose monument was erected back in 1991. His most famous works are “Treasury of Thoughts”, “Forty Hadiths”, “Five” and many others, known all over the world.

The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

Also, next to the Alley of Writers is the Union of Writers of Uzbekistan, the possibilities of which are very great: it has a rich library, reading and exhibition halls, editorial offices of literary magazines of Uzbekistan, and it is also planned to open a bookstore, where you can buy the latest novelties from domestic literature. Thus, this truly spiritual place will gather in itself all the talented writers of our time, educational events, and various exhibitions will be held here, which will help to better get acquainted with the literary life of Uzbekistan.

In mid-1913, the first professional theater group was formed on the territory of Uzbekistan, which in early 1914 showed its first national play on stage, and thus officially began its activity as a theater troupe.

The first professional theater troupe in Uzbekistan was formed in Tashkent in mid-1913, and in early 1914 staged the first national performance, and thus officially began its activity as a theater troupe and was originally called “Turon”. Unofficially, the troupe began performing in June-July 1913. The first performance of the troupe took place in 1913 in the Sheikh Howand Tohur Park as a “Night of Spectacles”.

Alisher Navoi Grand was founded in June 1939. This is one of the leading operas and ballet theatres in Uzbekistan. The theatre has a rich history full of significant events.

The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

The beginning of the history of the theatre was led by the People’s Artist of Uzbekistan Muhiddin Kari-Yakubov, when in 1929, under his leadership, concert and ethnographic ensemble lovers created a professional theatre, the dance group of which was headed by the famous Tamara Khanum.

The premiere of the first folk Opera “Buran”, staged in 1939, had success among audiences and critics. Afterward, other operas such as “Eugene Onegin”, “Gulsara” and ballets – “Coppelia”, “Red poppy”, “Don Quixote”, “Ballet dancer” were staged there.

The theatre is located in the center of Tashkent on Islam Karimov street. The building is surrounded by a beautiful park with a great number of ornamental trees and a dancing fountain.

The auditorium has a parterre and two tiers and can accommodate up to 1,440 people. The walls are decorated with gilt ornaments and light paint.

The theatre’s international projects comprise the organization of such events as the Tashkent Bahori Opera and Ballet Festival, a Festival to honor the 150th anniversary of Giacomo Puccini as well as participation in the foreign staging of such operas as “the Tsar’s Bride”, “Love Drink”, “Bohemia” and many others.

Located in the center of Tashkent, the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan is one of the first museums in Central Asia, opened in 1876.

The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

The Museum displays more than 250 thousand old objects, finds, and artifacts that allow you to learn the history of the peoples of Central Asia who inhabited the territory of Uzbekistan, from the Stone age to the present day.

Here you can find a statue of the Buddha of the I century, found in the Surkhandarya region, a bronze Saka goat (IV-V centuries BC), decorated with animal figurines, ancient ceramics, fabrics, coins, works of art, historical documents, photographic materials and other exhibits that allow Museum visitors to get acquainted with the ancient civilizations of the East and learn the most important epochs of the history of our region.

The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

Monument “Courage” in Tashkent 122Temporary difficulties have repeatedly overcome the Uzbek people. A striking example of this is the Tashkent earthquake, which occurred on April 26, 1966, at 05: 23 by local time.

The tragedy shocked the entire country. As a result of the earthquake, hundreds of homes were destroyed, and the center of Tashkent suffered the most. More than 300,000 people were left homeless and forced to live in tents. Thanks to the friendly assistance provided by the former  Union republics, a grandiose project was implemented, within the framework of which almost the entire city was reconstructed, as well as new neighborhoods were built. In honor of this event, on May 20, 1976, the monument “Courage” was erected in Tashkent. The monument was created by the sculptor and artist Dmitry Ryabichev.

The main idea of the monument is friendship, fortitude, and courage of people. The artistic image is represented by a black cube made of granite. It shows a dial with a clock, the date and year of the tragedy, through which the split passes, symbolizing the earthquake. The crack from the black cube leads to the image of a family. Here we see a woman holding a child with one hand and a man making a repulsive gesture. Bas-reliefs complete the composition. They serve as a background for the monument and are arranged in a semicircle. On the bas-reliefs, you can see courageous people who selflessly helped to restore the city.

The monument “Courage” is an important landmark of the city. Just-married come here with flowers, guests of the capital. Young and old people like to relax near the monument. The monument perfectly conveys the strength of the spirit and the hope that all temporary difficulties will be overcome.

From any point of the city, one can see the slender silhouette of the tallest building in Uzbekistan – the Tashkent TV tower.

The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

It is located at the highest point of the capital – 486 m above sea level. This is the largest broadcasting center in Central Asia, which is a single streamlined technological system, operating around the clock. The system includes the most advanced telecommunication equipment of the world’s leading companies, for the operation of which more than a hundred highly qualified specialists are responsible.

The construction of the Tashkent TV tower was started in 1978, according to the project of architects Y.L. Semashko, N.G. Terziev-Tsarukov and engineers E.P. Morozov, M.D.Musheev.

The construction had been carried out by the specialists of the “Vysotstroy” Trust and the Leningrad Department of General Directorate for the Production and Installation of Steel and Precast Concrete Structures (“Glavstalkonstruktsiya”), as well as by more than 30 construction, installation, commissioning and subcontracting organizations for seven years and was completed in January 1985.

In the center of the capital in Mirzo-Ulugbek district is a unique natural recreation area – the Central Ecopark named after Zahiriddin Babur.

The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

The Park is a favorite recreation place for residents and guests of the capital. There is everything for a pleasant time with your loved ones: running and cycling paths, observation, children’s, football, badminton, volleyball, and other playgrounds.

The Park attracts visitors because of the fountain, lake, bridge, and the so-called Island of Lovers, designed by foreign designers.

There is one unique building in the Gothic style in the center of Tashkent. Due to its good location in the city, it seems to rise a little above the ground.

The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

The Sacred Heart Cathedral of Jesus, or as it is popularly called the Polish Church – is one of the first and the only Catholic church in Tashkent. The Cathedral belongs to the apostolic administration of Uzbekistan. The construction of the Catholic Church in Tashkent was started in 1912.

In 1981, the Church building was declared as an architectural and historical monument of Uzbekistan. On October 22, 2000, the building of the restored Cathedral was consecrated by archbishop Marian Oles.


About the Author
Nadezhda Dukhovny was born and raised in Uzbekistan and made aliya in 2005. She holds an MA in Linguistics from Tel Aviv University and works in translation. She has a true interest about her motherland and would like to tell more about that fascinating country to make Israeli readers familiar with another culture from other part of the globe.