One of the most attractive cities in all of Central Asia, Dushanbe sits against a backdrop of mountains and is dotted with candy-colored neoclassical buildings and tree-lined avenues. Once regarded as one of the region’s most dangerous areas, the Tajik capital is now blossoming into one of its most pleasant cities.
The Bekhzod National Museum offers an outstanding introduction to Tajikistan’s history and culture. All the standard exhibits are there, detailing the country’s ethnography, history, art and archaeology, but the real draw is the collection of minbar and mihrab from Istaravshan. These pieces, a mosque pulpit and a niche marking the direction of Mecca, are stunning examples of Islamic design. Another particularly interesting sight is the giant painting of Lenin and the world’s oppressed women standing together in Moscow’s Red Square. The second floor has a chilling representation of a jail, and the third floor contains an excellent presidential and Soviet collection.
The country’s best museum is the Museum of National Antiquities. The expansive collection focuses largely on the Greco-Bactrian sites of Kobadiyan and Takhti-Sangin, but there is also an interesting exhibit of Sogdian murals. Other highlights include a statue of the Buddha of Ajina-Tepe and a 6th-centruy hilt and scabbard shaped like a griffin. The Buddha dates to the Kushan era and is the largest of its kind in Central Asia. Visitors are welcome to see the 12-meter long statue, but they must cover their shoes with plastic booties before entering the space.
Dushanbe’s center of commercial activity, the Barakat Bazaar, is overflowing with energy. Visitors can soak in the spirit of the capital in the covered alleyways and stalls, selling everything from cloaks and electronics to embroidered dresses and sequined skullcaps. The bazaar is also a great place to sample traditional Tajik foods, like plov rice with shredded turnips and non, a flatbread often covered with dried salty cheeses.
Islam is the official religion of Tajikistan, but there are surprisingly few visible manifestations of the religion in the capital. The Haji Yakoub Mosque and Madrassa is the most obvious because its burnished golden dome and cresent-topped marianet tower over the surrounding buildings. Named after a Tajik religious leader who was exiled in Afghanistan, the mosque is welcome to visitors outside of communal prayer times. Women may only visit the lush courtyard, but men are allowed to explore the entire complex inside and out.
The Persian past of Tajikistan is most visible at the Writers’ Union Building in the city center. Adorned like a medieval castle, the building features sculpted-stone figures of Omar Khayam, Sadruddin Ayni, Rirdausi and other celebrated writers from the Persian world.
A statue of Lenin once stood at the city center, but it was replaced with a monument to Ismail Samani, the Tajik amir during the 10th century. Samani is hailed as the Tajik nation’s father, and the towering golden monument is a source of great pride for the locals.
Other sights worth visiting in the capital include the Rudaki Statue, Victory Park, the Gurminj Musical Instrument Museum, Fort Hissar, the Museum of Archaeology and the Rohat Chaikhona, an old teahouse beloved for its whimsical architecture.
Dushanbe Geographical Location
Dushanbe is located in the central west of Tajikistan where the Varzob and Kofarnihon rivers meet.
The approximate population of Dushanbe is 680,000 and is Tajikistan’s largest city.
Tajik is the official language of Tajikistan although Russian is common when conducting business and for official affairs.
Dushanbe Predominant Religion
- 85% Sunni Muslim
- 10% Other
- 5% Shia Muslim
Sunni Muslim is the official religion of Tajikistan while Russian Orthodoxy is the most commonly practiced religion within the “other” category.
The Somoni is the official currency of Tajikistan.
Dushanbe experiences hot and dry summers and mild winters. There is relatively little rain during the summer while the winter is wet.
Dushanbe Main Attractions
- National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan
- Statue if Somoni
- Fort Hissar
Other Attraction in Dushanbe
- Victory Park
- The Opera Ballet
- Rudaki Statue
- Museum of Archaeology