Tourists usually don’t stay for too long in Tashkent. They usually treat the city as a starting point, good for one or two days, when then plan a longer travel around Uzbekistan. What interesting sights are there in Tashkent? How to plan your trip? These are our propositions:
1. See the Minor Mosque
It’s a beautiful building, especially at sunset. Although it lacks historical significance as it was put into service only in 2014, it is definitely worth visiting simply for its beauty and photogenic qualities. Inside you may see a picturesque courtyard with interesting wooden columns. The mosque may accommodate around 2400 believers.
2. Eat plov in Plov Centre
Plov is a national dish in Uzbekistan and everybody seems a bit obsessed with it. If you want to taste the best plov in the capital of Uzbekistan, you need to go to the plov centre –that’s what all the locals said. The citizens of Tashkent are said to eat 1,5 tonne of plov a day. I suppose that that number itself is strong enough recommendation to go there and taste the local delicacy.
The place is crowded since morning but there is also no commerciality and the atmosphere is very homey. Cooks stand before the restaurant and prepare plovs in huge pots. Some of them are busy chopping meat; others are stirring hot and aromatic plov sizzling in fat. All around one may see hurrying waitresses barely managing the pace, carrying servings of plov on blue dishes. Its basic ingredients include rice, meat, carrot, raisins and spices, especially cumin. One may eat here also plov with various additions such as chickpea, egg or horse sausage called kazy by the locals. A slice of that sausage is a true delicacy for the Uzbeks and a sort of a finishing touch as far as plov is concerned.
Plov is actually really good, it smells of cumin; it’s carefully seasoned, although somewhat fatty. To suit my taste it might be vegetarian because the Uzbek way of serving meat doesn’t really appeal to me. I also didn’t taste the greyish slice of horse sausage. Plov goes best with a salad consisting of tomatoes and onion –such a simple recipe but it tastes somehow better in Uzbekistan. A standard portion of plov costs 12 500 Soms. Plov Centre – a culinary must-see in Tashkent.
3. Go to Chorsu bazaar
It’s not one of the typical Asiatic bazaars smelling of spices and freshly baked bread –it’s more of a perfect pandemonium. The bazaar occupies a really huge space; some stalls stand in the open air while others are located in a characteristic circular building. You may buy here whatever you want except for clothes as it is mainly a food market, although there is also a large variety of other odds and ends.
The bazaar is extremely crowded, full of screams, and the smell coming from the meat and cheese departments makes one feel queasy but it is also one of the places that you just have to see with your own eyes.
Bargaining is good manners in Uzbekistan. It’s worth trying to get a lower price which is often way too high for tourists.
4. See Tashkent at night
Obviously Tashkent is not even close to New York, but I haven’t seen anywhere else in Asia as many lamps, lights and other kitschy LED marvels as in this city. Driving around the city at night made me feel like Christmas was coming. There are lights everywhere, especially on main streets, and all government buildings have special night image. The reason behind all those illuminated fountains and fairy lights on park trees is the fact that during summer people go to parks and wander the streets after sunset. Tashkent is also a city of fountains –there are millions of different types, some illuminated, some of them play music, breathe real fire and display all possible colours in the night. If you can, take a taxi ride through Tashkent after dusk for a truly unique experience.
5. Explore the underground
Underground in Tashkent, opened in 1977, is the only underground in the whole Central Asia. It’s a pride of Tashkent and a very useful, as well as fast and definitely the cheapest means of communication in that enormous city – a ticket costs 1200 Soms, what is around PLN0,60. It was supposedly modelled on the Moscow underground but they are not really equals. The rail has 36km and 29 stations. The stations I liked best were Kosmonavtlar and Mustaqillik Maydoni.
6. See the pimped up centre of Tashkent
Huge thoroughfares, wide pavements, proud statues, lawns and plants trimmed with surgical precision are a flagship of Tashkent. The area near the statue of Amir Timur, the popular pedestrian zone called “Broadway” or the surroundings of Mustakillik Maydoni metro station constitute more or less the centre of the city. A real showcase, no doubt.
You won’t find a single cigarette butt or wrapper, it’s so clean in here. Within sight there is always somebody trimming grass, usually on his or her knees (!) In the summer sprinklers water the lawns round the clock and every withered leaf is removed as soon as it’s discovered. It is believed that Tashkent consumes 1 500 000 cubic metres of water a day! It definitely has a specific, big-city, post-Soviet atmosphere that clashes with what you may see outside the city centre where common houses and dilapidating blocks of flats prevail.
7. Go up the teletower
375-meter-high tower in a post-Soviet style. It’s the tallest structure in all Central Asia and the 12th tallest television tower in the world. Its view point may be reached by a lift which one may enter only after a thorough control, almost like a security check before take-off. The views offered by the tower are quite nice but there’s no chance for decent panoramic photo since there is a security window at the top. Anyway, the view of Tashkent from the teletower is a real must-see. Price of the ticket: 40 000 Soms for tourists.
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