Dushanbe & Surroundings
Dushanbe is the political, cultural and economic centre and capital of Tajikistan modern and brimming with lush green vegetation. Dushanbe (until 1961 was called Stalinabad) is located in the centre of the Gissar valley at an altitude of more than 800 m above sea level. From the North and East it is surrounded by foothills, crowned with snow – white caps of the Gissar range. The Gissar range reaches from both sides of Varzob River (within the boundaries of the city called Dushanbinka). There are some 120 glaciers in the upper part of the Varzob river basin creating a favourable microclimate.in the mountain gorges and in outskirts of Dushanbe The Varzob River generously grants drinking water and irrigates neighbouring orchards and fields. And the picturesque mountain gorge offers a place for recreation and a comfortable base where guests from all parts of the world come to relax and explore.
Due to closeness of the mountains, the inhabitants of the capital can feel a light breeze and evening freshness in the hot periods of the summers. There is distinct continental climate in Dushanbe with arid and hot summers and humid cool winters. The most beautiful time of year is the warm and dry autumn – time for harvesting.
Modern Dushanbe ironically is an ancient city with great historical heritage and at the same time it is rather young (it is 80 years old). The true age of Dushanbe is subject to scientific arguments as numerous discoveries of archaeologists, ethnographers and historians found buried treasures of Sasanid silver coins, wedge-shaped copper axes of the 2nd century B.C., skilfully made earrings from alloyed gold and silver, bronze and gold-plated detail of horse harness with relief image of a head of Greek god Dionysus), give evidence that almost 2500 years ago this place was inhabited by people who lived in a relatively highly developed culture of handicrafts and city buildings.
On the slopes of Putovskiy remnants of settlements of the Greek-Bactrian kingdom (end of 3rd century B.C.) were found and an ancient city of Kushan (7th – 8th century) on the left bank of the river Dushanbinka.
The settlement of the Kushan period is believed to have been rather large. However when it emerged within the territory of the modern city the mystery has not been able to be resolved.
The first mention of Dushanbe goes back to 1676. In sources it is called “Kasabai Dushanbe” which is indicative of the status of the city. The city was in advantageous location on the crossroad of caravan roads, linking Gissar valley with Bukhara and Samarkand, Pamirs and Afghanistan. The word “Dushanbe” itself is translated as “Monday” refering to the day when the large bazaar or market happened. In the 19th century Dushanbe spanned an area of 272 ha with a population of 710,000 people.
At the beginning of the 20th century Dushanbe was a small village with some hundreds of people living here. Later it united with villages of Sari Osiyo and Shohmansur. According to memoirs of the Russian officer B.N. Litvinov, there were 42 small shelters and some hundreds of people; there was no electricity, water supply – water was fetched from the river and delivered in waterskins from lamb leather. The first diesel electricity was built in September 1924.
The more dynamic development of Dushanbe started from 1929 when the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic was established. By this time the first paved street, mill, soap factory, creamery and cotton-cleaning factory, metal workshop and mechanical and joiner’s workshops emerged. The same year a film studio was launched.
In 1931 Dushanbe was renamed into Stalinabad and had this name for another 30 years. Soon on the Varzob river the first hydro electrical station was constructed and the capital lit up with electricity. In 1938 city development with the population of 170 000 was mapped out. Against the background of snowy mountains and blue sky new buildings such as the Opera and Ballet, the “Vakhsh” hotel, state and specialists houses, and a number of other beautiful architectural creations, which after decades are still giving the capital of Tajikistan a beautiful streetscape.
In 1938 within the territory of the Tajik SSR Gharm, Kulyab and Leninabad districts were established. In 1961 the capital of Tajikistan reclaimed its former historical name – Dushanbe.
In mid 2000 Professor Buri Karimov, ex-chairman of Gosplan of Tajik SSR made a statement about reconstitution of the former network of administrative-territorial division of 1944-1947, which coincide with the historical-cultural regions of Tajikistan: Soghd, Zerafshan; Gissar, Vakhsh; Khatlon; and Badakhshan. Now the Republic of Tajikistan consists of 13 districts of republican subordination, 55 villages and 368 sub-districts.
Dushanbe itself transformed every day into a more beautiful capital with developed infrastructure, modern new buildings and unique sightseeing sites.
The central road of the capital is Rudaki Avenue, named after the famous Tajik poet. It is almost 12 km long from the railway station to the entrance into the mountain gorge of Varzob. Walking along the avenue allows seeing many places of interest of central Dushanbe.
The National Museum of the Republic of Tajikistan is located opposite the hotel “Dushanbe” not far from the railway station. The museum was opened in 1934 and it tells interesting stories of the history, archaeology, and art of the Tajik people and in the private museum of musical instruments a substantial collection of various musical instruments from many countries has been collected.
On the central city square a Memorial complex is erected devoted to the Samanids State of the 9th century with a statue of Ismili Somoni – founder of the first Tajik state. In the right hand of the statue holds the symbol of national unity and revival of Tajikistan – a golden regal sceptre .The architectural memorial complex was constructed in 1999.
The square to honour 800-years of Moscow is one of the most beautiful squares of the city. Framed by Indian lilac (white marble) a big fountain features in the centre which is the favourite place for local’s recreation.
One of the most remarkable old buildings of the town is the State Academic Theatre called Opera and Ballet. The theatre was opened in 1940; except classical repertoire, traditional national opera and ballets are also performed.
The Republican library houses some two million books in various languages. It is in deed a true treasure house with a collection of books by people from the ancient East, with over 2,000 manuscripts of Rudaki, Firdousi, Ibn Sina and Saadi.
One of the favourite and frequently visited places is the recently built cultural and recreational park surrounded by many beautiful fountains. On the opposite side of the avenue, straight opposite to the park, there is the building of city administration – Khukumat (government) of Dushanbe.
In the centre of the capital on the right side of Rudaki Avenue performances, unique and famous beyond the boundaries of Tajikistan are performed by the Russian state dramatic theatre.
On the crossroad of Rudaki and Ismoili Somoni Avenues there is an Art Gallery where art items, original – traditional works of local craftsmen and artists can be obtained.
The professional Tajik theatre in Dushanbe came into existence in 1929. It was established on the base of a study group of art amateur performances. Now, it is the first professional theatre in the republic – The Tajik State Academic Drama Theatre.
Each tourist visiting Dushanbe has to visit chaikhane “Rohat”. This beautiful museum of national architecture is located by the Presidential palace. Here you can have delicious food of Tajik cuisine and enjoy original and wonderful Tajik architecture.
The State complex “Kohi Vahdat” (Palace of Unity) decorates the northern part of the capital. Large scale public and business meetings, forums, conferences, symposiums, congresses and other significant activities are carried out at this building.
Another name for the northern part of the city is – «studencheskaya. Three of the largest educational institutions – the Tajik pedagogical university (first high education institution of the republic opened in 1931), the Tajik medical university after Abuali ibn-Sina and the Tajik Agrarian University are all located in this part of the city.
On one of the side streets, in front of the Agrarian University, the Botanical garden of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan was established here in 1933; more than 2,000 species of plants from all over the world grow here in this garden.
Dushanbe maintains friendly relationships with 13 twin cities and is a member of the World Federation of Related cities including: Lusaka (Zambia), Sana (Yemen), Clagenfurt (Austria), Boulder (USA), Monastir (Tunis), Lahore (Pakistan), Roitlingen (Germany), Tehran and Mashhed (Iran), Urumci (China), Mazar-e Sharif (Afghanistan), Minsk (Belarus) and Saint Petersburg (Russia).