A Backpacker’s Travel Guide to Tashkent

Tashkent

Teleshayakh Mosque Literary Museum

The Teleshayakh Mosque and Literary Museum, home of the Osman/Uthman Koran

It’s really hard at first to figure out what to make of Tashkent.  It’s a city of 2.3 million, with an odd blend of Russian and Uzbek influences, a growing restaurant, cultural, and nightlife scene, authoritarian Presidency, near police-state status, and mixed Muslim and Soviet heritage.  This gritty city will make your head spin.

Though it’s old and was a big city on the Silk Road, there aren’t many historic landmarks in Tashkent.  It’s been hit by several earthquakes in the recent past, some caused by the ground shaking, and some in the form of pissing off Mother Russia.  Still, if you take the time to dig, you’ll find that Tashkent has more going for it than being just a transit hub.  You may even come to like the place.

What to see:

Chorsu Bazaar

Tashkent’s Chorsu Bazaar – Spices, Grains, Produce, and other goodies

Chorsu Bazaar: This huge bazaar carries everything from seasonal produce, dairy goods, clothing, spices, and everything else you’d find at a Central Asian bazaar.  One of the highlights of the city, it is a great way to get a look at the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  You should go here and barter for cool Central Asian things, like knives and spices and awesome hats.

Osman Koran

The Osman/Uthman Koran. This book is a part of history

Moyie Mubarek Library Museum: For those of you interested in history, here is a chance to see the world’s oldest Koran: the Osman Koran.  It was brought to Tashkent by Timur after he sacked and looted most of Iraq, and spent a brief time in Moscow when the Russians took control of the area in the late 1800’s (before being returned by Lenin in 1924).  The museum also houses other rare and ancient manuscripts,  It is located near the Teleshayakh Mosque.

The Railway Museum:  Playing on old Soviet Era trains… what’s not to love?  Come see Thomas the Tank Engine’s soviet brother, Tomasz.

Sheikhantaur Mausoleum Complex: There are three mausoleums that make up the Sheikhantaur complex, the oldest of which is the Mausoleum of Yunus Khan (he was the grandfather of the founder of the Mughal dynasty, Babur).  The complex is located right near the Tashkent Islamic University.

Alisher Navoi Theater:  The national opera house of Uzbekistan, the theater puts on both opera and ballet shows.  The quality of the entertainment is high, though word is you should skip any concessions offered on premises.

There are a number of other fine museums and mausoleums to see in the city.  If you can find the time, it’s a great way to soak up some history and some culture.

Getting in/out

Tashkent is a major transit hub for Uzbekistan and the rest of Central Asia.  You can get here by plane, train, bus, and shared taxi.  Likewise, you’ll have plenty of transit options in carrying on the next steps of your journey.

Next up:

If you’re heading West, it’s on to the picturesque city of Samarkand or the city-museum of Bukhara.

If you’re heading East, the city of Kokand.

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Tashkent Travel Guide

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Tashkent International Airport: 41.257222, 69.281667
Tashkent Northern Railway Station: 41.292262, 69.289616
Madrasah of Abdulkasim Sheikh: 41.306726, 69.240035
Sheikhantaur Mausoleum Complex: 41.322266, 69.258842
Kaldirgochbiy Mausoleum: 41.323330, 69.259014
Yunus Khan Mausoleum: 41.323137, 69.258993
Mausoleum of Abu Bakr Kaffal Shoshi: 41.319302, 69.248100
Mausoleum of Sheikh Zainuddin-bobo: 41.323499, 69.203203
Chorsu Bazaar: 41.326714, 69.235110
History Museum of the Peoples of Uzbekistan: 41.311340, 69.269400
Medressah Kukeldosh: 41.319302, 69.248100
Moyie Mubarek Library Museum: 41.336901, 69.239210
Amir Timur Museum: 41.313637, 69.278885
Railway Museum: 41.296474, 69.292037
Fine Arts Museum of Uzbekistan: 41.302765, 69.278240
Navoi Literary Museum: 41.318897, 69.257767
Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theater: 41.309032, 69.272774
Alayskiy Bazaar: 41.318937, 69.284401
Gulnara: 41.327955, 69.230068
Mirzo B&B: 41.339580, 69.231881
Jahongir Bed and Breakfast: 41.335447, 69.222473
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Tashkent International Airport
Tashkent International Airport

Tashkent International Airport is a major air hub for travel throughout Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and Eastern Europe.  Domestic flights are also offered through Uzbekistan Airways.  Air Astana, Aeroflot, Air Baltic, Czech Airways, IranAir, Korean Air, Turkish Airways, and Uzbekistan Airways all operate out of Tashkent International Airport.
Tashkent International Airport, Tashkent, Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan
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Tashkent Northern Railway Station
Tashkent Northern "Central" Railway Station

Tashkent is a key rail point for all Central Asian train services.  Trains run to Kazakhstan, Russia, with connections you can reach Kyrgzstan, Tajikistan, and even China (connecting through Almaty).  Additionally, domestic services run to Bukhara, Samarkand, Urgench, and Termez.
Северный Вокзал, Ташкент, Ташкентская область, Узбекистан
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Madrasah of Abdulkasim Sheikh
Madrasah of Abdulkasim Sheikh

A Madrasah constructed in the 19th century in honor of the thinker, Abdulkasim Shekh.
Madrasah of Abdulkasim Sheikh, Tashkent, Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan
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Sheikhantaur Mausoleum Complex
Sheikhantaur Mausoleum Complex

Opposite the Navoi Literary Museum are three 15th-century mausoleums that make up the Sheikhantaur Mausoleum Complex. The biggest, on the grounds of the Tashkent Islamic University, is named after Yunus Khan, who was the grandfather of the Mughal emperor and Andijon native Babur. The mausoleum is locked, but you can view its Timurid style entrance portal (pishtak). The entrance is from Abdulla Kodiri street. Two smaller mausoleums are east of the university grounds, accessible via a small side street running north from Navoi.  There is the pointy-roofed Kaldirgochbiy and the twin-domed Shaykh Hovendi Tahur.
Chorsu Bazaar, Beruni Avenue, Tashkent, Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan
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Kaldirgochbiy Mausoleum
Kaldirgochbiy Mausoleum

This mausoleum is the most ancient monument in Tashkent. The dome is in the shape of a pyramid and the structure dates from the 1400's.  The mausoleum contains the remains of a famous Kazakh leader, Tole-bly, who had the nickname Kaldyrgach (which means 'Swallow').
Chorsu Bazaar, Beruni Avenue, Tashkent, Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan
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Yunus Khan Mausoleum
Yunus Khan Mausoleum

The Yunus Khan Mausoleum houses the remains of Yunus Khan, a 15th century noble, descendant of Genghis Khan and grandfather of Babur, founder of the Moghul Dynasty in India.  The mausoleum, though dating back to the 1400's and the time of the Timurids, is relatively unadorned.
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Mausoleum of Abu Bakr Kaffal Shoshi
Mausoleum of Abu Bakr Kaffal Shoshi

The Mausoleum of Abu Bakr Kaffal Shoshi (died in 976/977), one of the first Imams of the Islamic World, was constructed in the 16th century.  The Mausoleum is part of the Hazrati Imam complex (which contains numerous other religiously important monuments).  The front room contains his large tomb and five smaller tombs.  In the back room, there are tombs of three more sheikhs.
Hazrati Imam, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
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Mausoleum of Sheikh Zainuddin-bobo
Mausoleum of Sheikh Zainuddin-bobo

Zainuddin-bobo is a son of the founder of Suffist order Sukhravardiya — Zia addin Jakhim Sukhravardi sheikh. He was sent to Uzbekistan by his father to spread their Sufist ideology. The mausoleum is constructed in the khanaka style. Right next to the mausoleum there is a chillyakhona (the underground monastic cell) that was constructed in the 12th—3th centuries.
Kurgancha 7th Street, Tashkent, Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan
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Chorsu Bazaar
Chorsu Bazaar

Located at the southern edge of the Old Town, the Chorsu Bazaar is the most famous of Tashkent's markets.  Topped by a giant green dome, the bazaar is filled with farmers and merchants selling their wares, everything from grain, candy, dairy products, pomegranates, to kurpacha (colourful sitting mattresses), skull caps, chapan (traditional Uzbek cloaks) and knives are for sale here.  
Chorsu Bazaar, Beruni Avenue, Tashkent, Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan
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History Museum of the Peoples of Uzbekistan
History Museum of the Peoples of Uzbekistan

For anyone interested in the history of Turkestan, this museum is a must-see.  There are artifacts of Buddhist and Zoroastrian history (including several Buddha and Buddha-fragments from Fayoz-Tepe, an ancient Buddhist monastery, near Termiz).  There is an exhibit covering the Russian conquest of the Emirates and Khanates of Central Asia, as well as on the brutal methods they employed to crush rebellions in the region.
Pakhtakor Stadium, Tashkent, Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan
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Medressah Kukeldosh
Medressah Kukeldosh

Sitting near the Chorsu Bazaar, the Medressah Kukeldosh is adjacent to the main friday mosque of Tashkent.  The Medressah was reconstructed in the 1990's, after having been destroyed by the Soviets.  Originally built in the 1500's by the Tashkent khans' vizir, who was  nicknamed Kukeldosh (means "The khan's foster brother").  The Medressah is one of the largest in Uzbekistan and still functions as a school.
Madrassah Kukeldach, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
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Moyie Mubarek Library Museum
Moyie Mubarak Library Museum

Located in the Hast Imam square, right next to the Teleshaykh Mosque, this library museum houses a number of rare and ancient books.  The gem of the collection is the Osman Koran, the oldest Koran in existence (written in the late 7th century).  It was commissioned by the third Caliph, Uthman, in order to create a standardized version of Islam's holy writings.  According to legend, it was most likely brought to Tashkent by Timur, after conquering and looting much of Iraq.  The museum is open daily, from 9 am to 4 pm.
Khast Imam Mosque, Zarkaynar Street, Tashkent, Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan
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Amir Timur Museum
Amir Timur Museum

Very much an exercise in kitsch and in cult-making, the Amir Timur Museum is filled with murals showing Uzbekistan's most famous conqueror, Tamerlane, doing rather charitable things like constructing monuments and praising his citizens.  Not included in the exhibit are murals showing his bloody conquests of much of Asia.  It's open Tuesday-Sunday, from 10:00 am to 5:00pm.
Amir Timur Museum, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
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Railway Museum
Railway Museum

A large, open-air collection of Soviet-style locomotives from the 1930's through the 1950's.  If you love trains, come here.  Even if you don't love trains, it's worth a visit for the fact that you're free to climb over almost all the trains on exhibit here.  C'mon, be a kid again, and do it.
Railway Museum, Turkiston Street, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
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Fine Arts Museum of Uzbekistan
Fine Arts Museum of Uzbekistan

Take a walk through 1,500 years of Uzbekistan's history.  Contained in this museum are Buddhist relics from the 7th century, artwork of pre-Russian Turkestan, and Soviet and contemporary artwork.  Additionally, great 19th and 20th century Central Asian masters are well represented, and there’s an exhibit Uzbek applied art, including plaster carvings (ghanch) and silk-on-cotton embroidered hangings called suzani.
Chorsu Bazaar, Beruni Avenue, Tashkent, Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan
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Navoi Literary Museum
Navoi Literary Museum

Containing writings and artifacts of 15th-century poet Alisher Navoi and other Central Asian authors, the Navoi Literary Museum is open Monday-Friday, from 10am to 5pm.  Saturdays they are open from 10am until 1pm.  The museum also has replica manuscripts, Persian calligraphy, and old miniatures that provide a look back at 15th and 16th century Uzbekistan.
69 Navoi Avenue, Tashkent, Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan
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Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theater
Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theater

Also known as the Navoi Theater, or the Theater of the Republic for Opera and Ballet, is named after the famed poet and linguist, Alisher Navoi, who was a champion of the Turkic languages.  The theater was constructed from 1942-1947, with much of the labor being done by Japanese prisoners of war.  There is a memorial plaque commemorating their service.  The ticket counter is open on performance days from 10AM until 7PM.
Alisher Navoï Opera, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
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Alayskiy Bazaar
Alayskiy Bazaar

Alayskiy Bazaarone of the least crowded and noisy bazaars in Tashkent. It is an excellent place to visit to buy button and oyster mushrooms, along with Caspian sturgeon and Far Eastern salmon.
Alay Bazaar, Tashkent, Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan
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Gulnara
Gulnara Guesthouse

Located within short walking distance of the Chorsu Bazaar, the Gulanara Guesthouse is one of the top budget choices in Tashkent.  It has all the basic hostel amenities, and rates range from the mid 20's for the basic dorms, up to the mid 50's for private rooms with ensuite bathrooms.

Click here to book at the Gulnara Guesthouse.
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Mirzo B&B
Mirzo B&B

Located near the Hazrati Imam complex, along with the national theater and several other museums, the Mirzo B&B is in a good location for sightseeing.  Reviews on the Mirzo B&B are mixed, with it having a decent atmosphere, but the hostel does not take credit cards, and some reviewers mention the monetary exchange rate at the desk isn't the best.

Click here to book with the Mirzo B&B on Hostelworld.com.
95 Sagban Street, Tashkent, Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan
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Jahongir Bed and Breakfast
Jahongir Bed and Breakfast

The Jahongir B&B is about a 5 minute walk from the “Tinchlik” subway station and 10 minutes by car from the Chorsu Bazaar.  There are 5 double/twin rooms, 2 single rooms, and 2 triple rooms all with ensuite bathrooms, WC and AC. The Jahongir offers huge and varied breakfast with lots of local bread, pancakes with home made jams, eggs of all sort, fruits and local sweets.  It's a newer B&B, and there currently aren't any reviews for it on Hostelworld.

Prices run from $20 a night for the 4 bed private rooms, to $40 a night for the single private room.

Click here to book the Jahongir Bed and Breakfast on Hostelworld.
Jahongir B&B Tashkent, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
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