Tashkent Travels: A Day in the Capital of Uzbekistan

This travel guide covers the sights I visited during my trip to Tashkent, the lively and interesting capital city of Uzbekistan.

Tashkent visit

After a tiring but otherwise comfortable Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul I had arrived in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent in the wee hours of morning.

As I had long wanted to visit Uzbekistan it was a great moment to be finally stamped into the country at Tashkent Airport.

Besides all the magnificent Silk Road sights awaiting me on this trip, I was tremendously curious to see how everyday life in Uzbekistan would be like.

Uzbekistan is one of the only two double landlocked countries in the world and Tashkent is more or less the furthest located city from one of the Earth’s oceans.

Because of its remote location and long history of stringent entry requirements, Central Asia as a whole is still a relatively undiscovered region for travel.

In recent years, most Central Asian countries have however opened up for tourism, with Uzbekistan nowadays even being visa-free for EU nationals.

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Walking on the streets of Tashkent. ©Paliparan

Church

Before I could start my visit to Tashkent, I did have some business to take care of as I needed to get some railway tickets sorted.

Having dropped off my bags at the hotel, I first headed towards the main railway station of Tashkent.

On my way to the station, I passed along the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God, Tashkent’s main Orthodox church.

Even though the main religion in Uzbekistan is Sunni Islam, a sizable Russian Orthodox community lives in Tashkent.

cathedral tashkent
Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God. ©Paliparan
cathedral
Tashkent Cathedral at sunrise. ©Paliparan

Train station

Although I had easily managed to book all my train tickets online for my trip around Uzbekistan, I still needed to exchange the e-tickets for a paper ticket at the station.

This requirement has been dropped since my visit to Uzbekistan, as you can nowadays just show your e-ticket on your phone to the conductor when you board the train.

However, things were still pretty bureaucratic during my trip.

Outside of Tashkent’s modern railway station, there was first a careful check of my passport and booking confirmation before I was even allowed to enter the premises.

Once inside things went fortunately a bit faster as there was no queue at all at the ticket window and within minutes I had my printed tickets issued.

tashkent main railway station
Tashkent’s main railway station. ©Paliparan

Into the city centre

Next up on the to-do list before I could finally grab a coffee and explore the city was to get some cash, either by exchanging some of the US dollars I brought along into Uzbek som or by withdrawing some money from an ATM.

This is straightforward enough in about every country on earth, but believe me, it isn’t in Uzbekistan as there simply aren’t that many ATMs that actually accept foreign cards.

Although you can easily get a cash advance on your credit card at most banks, it was a weekend day so there wasn’t even one that was actually open.

I read online that one of the places in Tashkent which actually has an exchange office as well as a working ATM is the Uzbekistan Hotel on Amir Timur Square in the heart of the city centre.

It was a highly pleasant walk from the train station to this square.

The walk took me over a leafy boulevards lined by some stately buildings such as the Fedorovich Clinical Sanatorium and the Tashkent branch of the Moscow State University.

Fedorovich Clinical Sanatorium tashkent
Fedorovich Clinical Sanatorium. ©Paliparan
Moscow State University Tashkent
The Tashkent branch of the Moscow State University. ©Paliparan
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Buildings in the centre of Tashkent. ©Paliparan

Timur Square

Amir Timur Square is basically a huge roundabout with a large park in the middle in the heart of Tashkent.

The square is named after Amir Timur, who is perhaps better known as Tamerlane in English-speaking countries.

Tamerlane is Uzbekistan’s national hero and one of the world’s greatest ever conquerors.

Tamerlane has left behind quite a legacy in Uzbekistan as the the Timurid dynasty saw the revival of arts and sciences in Central Asia and the construction of some stunning mosques and madrassas.

Obviously, the best place in Uzbekistan to see the marvels of the Timurid era is the city Samarkand, which I would visit after Tashkent.

However, if you are short on time and only visit Tashkent on your trip to Uzbekistan, you should check out Amir Timur Museum which you’ll find on this square.

Unfortunately, the museum was closed when I visited, so I just admired the large equestrian statue of Amir Timur in the middle of the square.

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Amir Timur Square with an equestrian statue of Tamerlane. ©Paliparan
tamerlane statue
The equestrian statue of Amir Timur, who is better known as Tamerlane in the West. ©Paliparan
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The State Museum of the Temurids, which is simply known as the Timur Museum by the locals. ©Paliparan
Amir Timur Museum
Amir Timur Museum. ©Paliparan

Uzbekistan Hotel

On Amir Timur Square you can also find Hotel Uzbekistan, a Soviet-era brutalist monstrosity.

Although the hotel looks pretty old-school communist from the outside, it has reportedly been refurbished from the inside.

As the ATM in the hotel was out of order, I had to wait for 30 minutes in the lobby for the exchange office to open so I could finally get some much-needed local currency.

Fortunately there was some free Wi-Fi available to kill the time and to help me plan the next sights I would visit on my tour of Tashkent.

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The Soviet-era Hotel Uzbekistan. ©Paliparan
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Hotel Uzbekistan in Tashkent. ©Paliparan

Broadway

From Amir Timur Square, you can head up on pedestrianised Sailgokh Street, which is commonly known as Broadway by the locals.

This leafy pedestrian street is lined with a couple of shops and cafés and you’ll most likely encounter some artists showcasing their paintings as well.

While Broadway is a pleasant place to take a walk, it is not the central point around which life in Tashkent revolves what some guidebooks may lead tourists to believe.

In my opinion you can find some more appealing cafés and restaurants in other areas of the city.

The Palace of Grand Duke Nicholas Konstantinovich Romanov at the end of Broadway is the most noteworthy sight in this part of Tashkent.

Sailgokh Street
Sailgokh Street, which is also known as ‘Broadway’. ©Paliparan
broadway tashkent
Walking on leafy Broadway. ©Paliparan
broadway
Broadway. ©Paliparan
Palace of Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovich tashkent
Palace of Grand Duke Nicholas Konstantinovich. ©Paliparan

Quietness

One thing which surprised me about Tashkent was how empty the city felt.

Up until this point there were just a handful of other pedestrians whom I crossed paths with, while the roads were almost completely devoid of traffic.

I’m not sure it was because it was a Saturday morning, but it really surprised me.

While there was marginally more traffic in the streets outside of the city centre, it did feel like I was walking in some provincial city rather than in Central Asia’s biggest city!

tashkent boulevard
Tashkent boulevard almost completely devoid of traffic. ©Paliparan

Independence Square

Just a stone’s throw away from the end of Broadway lies Mustakillik Maydoni, also known as Independence Square.

Independence Square is the largest square in Tashkent, although it actually feels more like a big park.

The square is surrounded by government buildings such as the Cabinet of Ministers and the Senate of Uzbekistan.

There are also a couple of interesting monuments you can see around this square, such as a large arch with some storks on top, the Independence Monument and a World War II memorial.

A little further away, you will come across the Earthquake Memorial.

This monument serves as a tribute to the victims of the devastating 1966 Tashkent earthquake, which claimed the lives of approximately 100 individuals and left up to 300,000 people homeless.

Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan
Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan. ©Paliparan
Senate of Uzbekistan tashkent
Senate of Uzbekistan. ©Paliparan
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Storks Monument on Independence Square. ©Paliparan
independence square tashkent
Independence Square. ©Paliparan
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Fountains on Independence Square. ©Paliparan
independence monument
Independence Monument. ©Paliparan

Tashkent metro

The next place I wanted to visit on my tour around Tashkent was Chorsu Bazaar.

As Chorsu Bazaar is located outside the city centre, you will have to take the metro to reach it.

The Tashkent metro network is a fantastic sight in its own right as the stations are absolutely stunning.

Tashkent may very well have the world’s most beautiful metro network after Moscow!

Every station on the metro has a unique architectural style, and some stops are even dedicated to important aspects of Uzbekistan’s rich history and culture.

Pakhtakor metro station is dedicated to cotton harvesting, whereas Alisher Navoi metro station pays homage to Uzbekistan’s national poet.

At Kosmonavtlar metro station you can find a tribute to Soviet cosmonauts such as Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.

Unfortunately, I felt a bit hesitant to take pictures of the metro as I know first-hand how strict the regulations regarding photography can be in some ex-Soviet states.

I therefore tried to snap as many pictures as I discreetly could without being noticed by the security guards patrolling the stations.

Only at the end of my day in Tashkent did I find out that you are nowadays actually allowed to photograph the metro – something which I wished I would have known earlier.

Mustakillik maydoni metro station tashkent
Mustakillik Maydoni metro station. ©Paliparan
tashkent metro
The wonderful Tashkent metro network. ©Paliparan
alisher navoi metro station tashkent
Changing lines at Alisher Navoi station. ©Paliparan
tashkent metro alisher navoi station
Alisher Navoi station. ©Paliparan

Chorsu Bazaar

If you only visit one sight in Tashkent, make it Chorsu Bazaar.

Chorsu Bazaar is the main market of Tashkent and it’s absolutely sprawling.

A huge blue-tiled dome houses the main market hall, although the bazaar sprawls far beyond the confines of this structure.

In the streets and alleys around the main market hall you can buy absolutely anything ranging from food to clothes, shoes and all kinds of household products.

Chorsu Bazaar serves as the perfect venue to immerse yourself in the daily life of Uzbekistan.

chorsu metro station
Standing outside of Chorsu metro station. ©Paliparan
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The main market hall of Chorsu Bazaar. ©Paliparan

Mosques and madrassas

Before exploring the actual markets, I first took some time to visit two other sights that can be found at Tashkent’s Chorsu Bazaar.

Just a short distance away from the metro station you can find the Dzhuma Mosque, which is also known as the Kohja Ahror Valiy or Jama Mosque.

Of greater interest is the Kukeldash Madrassa, which dates back to the 16th century and is one of the few remaining historic sights in the city.

Unfortunately, much of Old Tashkent was destroyed during the devastating 1966 earthquake.

While the madrassa is certainly not as grand as those found in Samarkand and Bukhara, it still offered a nice preview of the Silk Road attractions that would await me later on during my trip across Uzbekistan.

Kukeldash Madrassa
Kukeldash Madrassa. ©Paliparan
Kukeldash Madrassa tashkent
The inner courtyard of the Kukeldash Madrassa. ©Paliparan
Dzhuma Mosque tashkent
Dzhuma Mosque. ©Paliparan

Lunch

Upon returning to the vibrant and busy streets of Chorsu Bazaar, I stumbled upon a local outdoor eatery by following the enticing aroma of grilled meat.

I ordered two shashliks, a salad, and a coke, along with some of the delicious local bread, all of which cost me a total of $3.

The meat was mouth-watering succulent and the tomatoes and cucumbers fresh from the land with some tasty condiments sprinkled on them.

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Exploring the streets and alleys of Chorsu Bazaar. ©Paliparan
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Freshly made bread for sale. ©Paliparan
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A yummy lunch in the heart of Chorsu Bazaar. ©Paliparan

Bazaar streets

After the meal I walked closer towards the main bazaar building.

The area immediately surrounding the UFO-like dome is where you can find an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.

chorsu bazaar tashkent
Clothes and shoe stores at Chorsu Bazaar. ©Paliparan
fruit seller chorsu bazaar
Woman selling fruit at Chorsu Bazaar. ©Paliparan
chorsu bazaar spice market
All kinds of spices on sale at Chorsu Bazaar. ©Paliparan
Potato vegetable market
Potatoes and veggies being sold at the market. ©Paliparan
fruit and vegetables market
Fruit and vegetables market. ©Paliparan

Main market hall

Without doubt, the centrepiece and true highlight of Chorsu Bazaar is the Soviet-era dome that serves as the central market hall.

Inside, you will primarily find vendors selling meat and dairy products.

Make sure you walk up to the balustrade on the upper floor, as it offers a fantastic view of the entire hall and the bustling market life.

Chorsu Bazaar was undoubtedly the highlight of my day in Tashkent and the first time I truly felt immersed in the unique atmosphere of Central Asia.

chorsu bazaar tashkent main market hall
The main market hall of Chorsu Bazaar. ©Paliparan
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Chorsu Bazaar main market hall. ©Paliparan
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Horse meat being sold at Chorsu Bazaar. ©Paliparan
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Chorsu Bazaar is always full of activity, making it a great place to visit in Tashkent. ©Paliparan
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The magnificent dome of the main market hall of Chorsu Bazaar. ©Paliparan
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Market stalls at Chorsu Bazaar. ©Paliparan
dairy market
Dairy products being sold at the market. ©Paliparan
market workers
Market workers chatting. ©Paliparan
meat chorsu bazaar
Meat being sold at Chorsu Bazaar. ©Paliparan

To the hotel

Although there are quite a few other interesting sights in Tashkent, I didn’t have any energy left in my body after the visit to Chorsu Bazaar.

The red-eye flight into Tashkent and more than 10 kilometres of walking had really drained all my energy.

I therefore decided to return to my hotel to get some much-needed rest, ensuring I would be refreshed for the following morning when I planned to travel onward to Samarkand.

On my way to the hotel, I did however stop at a couple of more metro stations to admire the fabulous design.

Alisher Navoi metro station tashkent
Alisher Navoi metro station. ©Paliparan
tashkent metro train
A Tashkent metro train arrives at Alisher Navoi station. ©Paliparan
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Uzbekiston metro station. ©Paliparan

Astor Hotel

I spent the night in Tashkent at the Astor Hotel, where I paid $80 for a comfortable room with a double bed

Although the hotel isn’t the most centrally located, it is close to the airport and main train station and the surrounding area features quite some appealing cafés and restaurants.

As I still felt tired after a short nap in the late afternoon, I decided to stay in the hotel for the rest of the evening.

I ordered dinner at the hotel, had a couple of beers, and smoked some nargileh on the outdoor terrace before retiring to my room for the night.

astor hotel tashkent
My room at the Astor Hotel. ©Paliparan
astor hotel room
Astor Hotel room. ©Paliparan
potatoes meat dinner
Some potatoes and meat for dinner. ©Paliparan
nargilah koen tashkent
Enjoying some nargilah on the courtyard after a tiring but fun day in Tashkent. ©Paliparan

Conclusion

Tashkent is a great place to start your travels through Uzbekistan as the city offers a variety of interesting sights to explore and provides a good introduction to the country’s rich culture and history.

The most impressive sights of Tashkent are bustling Chorsu Bazaar and the wonderful architecture of the city’s metro stations.

Although the city centre felt a bit lifeless during my visit, it still made for a pleasant walk.

Overall, Tashkent served as a good introduction to Uzbekistan, although it pales in beauty compared with everything what was yes to come in Samarkand and Bukhara.

Trip report index

This article is part of the ‘From Uzbekistan With Plov‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: Prietenia Night Train Bucharest to Chisinau
2. Chisinau Guide: A Visit to Moldova’s Capital
3. Istanbul Ataturk Airport and the Turkish Airlines Lounge
4. Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class Airbus A330
5. Tashkent Travels: A Day in the Capital of Uzbekistan (current chapter)
6. Tashkent to Samarkand by Uzbekistan Railways ‘Shark’ Train
7. Samarkand Visit Guide: Travelling Through Silk Road Splendour
8. Review: Afrosiyob High-Speed Train Samarkand to Bukhara
9. Bukhara: Exploring Unique Historic Sights and Timeless Charm
10. Bukhara to Khiva by Train: My Travel Experience
11. Khiva: Uzbekistan’s Unique Desert Oasis City
12. On a Night Train Across Uzbekistan: From Urgench to Tashkent
13. Guide: How to Travel From Tashkent to Shymkent
14. Shymkent: The Gateway to Southern Kazakhstan
15. Sukhoi Superjet: Flying Russia’s Homemade Plane

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Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

If you enjoyed this travel article and found the information provided useful, please consider supporting us. Although we gladly share all information for free at Paliparan.com, a one-time donation is a great way to help out an independent publisher! You can support Paliparan by buying us a coffee for €5, or by making a donation through PayPal. Thank you for your support!

3 thoughts on “Tashkent Travels: A Day in the Capital of Uzbekistan

  • April 17, 2023 at 8:53 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks Koen, I’ll be doing the silk road myself this summer, what else can we look forward to you sharing?

    Reply
    • Avatar photo
      April 17, 2023 at 9:02 pm
      Permalink

      In the next few days/weeks I’ll upload the instalments of this trip report covering Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, my experiences travelling through Uzbekistan by high-speed and sleeper trains, as well as a trip across the border into Kazakhstan to Shymkent.

      Reply
  • November 19, 2023 at 7:33 pm
    Permalink

    Thank you Koen for sharing your day in Tashkent! I will be doing almost the same next month – spending one day in Tashkent and then taking the train to Bukhara the following day. You gave me a lot of things to do!

    Reply

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