In this section we offer you a review of the most famous historical monuments in Tajikistan, which will make a fascinating historical tour:
Muhammad Boshoro Mausoleum (Penjikent)
Muhammad Boshoro Mausoleum, the expert of Hadis (narrations about deeds and views of the Prophet Muhammad and His Associates) – is one of the famous monuments of the prosperity period of Central Asian architecture. The mausoleum was erected in the 11th and 12th centuries, as a building which combined the functions of a mausoleum and a memorial mosque. The building consists of a wide central dome hall, and a range of arched spaces to the left and right of the hall. The only road to the Mausoleum leads from the main façade, facing a mountain spring.
Sarazm Settlement (Penjikent)
Sarazm – is a settlement from the 4th to the 2nd century BC, close to Penjikent, with very well preserved fire temples, public and residential buildings, cult and palace constructions. Also many products such as copper, bronze, lead and gold, weapons and jewellery which belonged to the period of the 4th to the 2nd century BC were found here. The settlement is an elevation stretched from West to East on the left bank of the Zerafshan River. The total area of the settlement exceeds 100ha. Sarazm used to be the centre of ancient mining. When gold and silver deposits were discovered in the Zerafshan River Valley, the people of Sarazm exported them to the countries of Central and Middle East and Western India. Moreover, Sarazm was one of the biggest centers of metallurgy in Central Asia. Fragments of casting forms, melting hearths, massive tampers and grounds for crushing ores, metal items in the form of axes, daggers, knives, spears, pins, fishing hooks, and embellishments were discovered here. During excavation works in Sarazm a huge palace complex with an area of more than 250 square meters was found.
Rudaki Mausoleum (village Panjrud, Penjikent district)
The talented poet, singer and musician Rudaki ( who played a chang – instrument similar to a harp) was invited by Nasr bin Ahmad Samanid II (914-943) to Bukhara, where he spent most of his life. Until in 937 he lost the support of his patron. Most of the poet’s biography remain unknown. Also there is no lifetime portrait of the poet and the only records about his life indicate that he died blind. Only through the thorough work of the founder of the modern Tajik prose, Sadriddin Ayni, and the famous Russian sculptor-anthropologist professor Mikhail Gerasimov is a clearer picture possible of Rudaki’s life and death. Ayni, after studying all possible historical manuscripts, could precisely establish the supposed burial place of the great poet, and Gerasimov could restore the poet’s look based on the poet’s remains. In 1958 in the burial place a mausoleum was erected, which can be seen by visiting the village Panjrud close to Penjikent.
Architectural complex Hazrati-Bobo (Isfara)
The architectural complex Hazrati-bobo is located in the North-Eastern part of the modern village Chorku and consists of constructions of different times, located along a single axis with a façade to the North, and a burial (mazar) of a Saint, who is called by the locals “Khast-i podshoh”, “Khast-i armir”, “Amir Hamza-i Sohibkiron” (Sohibkiron means “Master of a lucky combination of stars”. Neither scientists, nor the old residents of Chorku, can say precisely which of the names comply with reality, and who is buried in this mazar, which was carefully observed by believers. The mazar is located in the neighborhood of Langar, therefore, along with other names mentioned above, it is also often called Mazori Langar or “Chorku Mausoleum”. Local folklore has it that the mazar was erected in one night, and that Hazrati – Bobo – the legendary hero, commander and king of kings Amir Hamza Sohibkiron (Amir Hamza Hasti Podshoh) is buried there. Whether or not any Saint is buried there is not known.
Khujand fortress (Khojent)
The Khujand fortress is located on the left-bank part of the city Khojent – capital of the Soghd region in the form of a high hill. The outpost was built by Alexander the Great in the 3rd century BC. The fortress was reinforced by defensive walls and gates and consists of Shahristan, Kukhendiz and Rabad. The Khujand fortress is mentioned in the sources dating back to the 9th and 10th centuries already as kukhendiz which means an old fortress.
Medrese Kuk-Gumbaz (Istravshan)
When you look at the city from above, it appears as if a blue dome of the madrasah «Kok Gumbaz» (educational instiution) hovers over it. It is located in the Western part of the city and is called so because of the blue ornamented tile dome (Kok Gumbaz – «Blue dome»). This is a construction of the 16th century built by the initiative of Abdulatif Sultan – son of the famous astronomer and philosopher Ulugbek, grandson of Tamerlan. A legend about the Kok Gumbaz construction says that Abdulatif quarreled with his father, abandoned his father’s house and worked for an old farmer and dug a channel for irrigating the land. For this work he was supposed to receive 100 tenge. The father learnt about it and took away the money from the farmer, earned by his son, had added his own money to them and built the madrasah. Even after three centuries at the end of the 19th century students studied in the madrasah .
Khudoyor Bal’ami Mausoleum (Istravshan)
The building of the mazar dates back to 17th centure AD. The construction itself is in a good condiation and was built from unbaked bricks with gancha plasterwork, decorated with elaborate ornaments. The rulers of Ura-Tyube of the first quarter of the 17th century – Khudoyor – Devonabegim and the ruler of Ura-Tyube of the first quarter of the 19th century – Muhammad Rahimbai were buried here. The mausoleum of Khudoyor has halls of peculiar forms. Inside, occupying almost the entire under-dome space, there is a big burial vault, decorated from the entrance all the way into the mausoleum with a carving on gancha. According to architectures, burial of this kind has not been observed anywhere else.
Muhammad Rahimbai ruled over the city Ura-Tyube from 1816 to 1828 and adhered mainly to Bukhara orientation. However, disagreements occurred between him and the Bukhara emir Nasrullo about Jizakh ownership. The Kokand khan Muhammad Aly took advantage of this and captured Ura-Tyube. Muhammad Rahimboy hid in Shahrisabz and relying on his former officials (1830-1831) secretly entered Ura-Tyube with another 18 brave men. The protégé of Kokand learnt about this, seized and killed Muhammad Rahim. They were all buried here in one grave.
In 1940 graves were opened at the territory of the mazaar. Embalmed corpses were taken out from graves among which there was one that belonged to the descendants of Temurids. The rest of the corpses remained in the grave. After local people found the opened grave, they recovered the rest of the corpses and buried them in another place.
Archeological site Nurteppa (Istaravshan)
The archeological city Nurteppa is located in Istaravshan of the Soghd region. The city is a archeological monument of –12th to 14th century BC. Its area is 18 ha and it is located in the bank of the river Nijon. The city is reinforced by a defensive wall with a citadel of a horseshoe form. Earlier layers of the city date back to the 7th – 4th century BC with dwellings like dugouts. The walls were reinforced with right-angled bricks. The city is a unique monument of Akhamenids’ period with peculiar architecture and culture.
Mir Said Hamadoni Mausoleum (Khatlon region)
One of the unique historical and architectural monuments is the mausoleum of the prominent thinker and religious figure of the 15th century Mir Said Aly Hamadoni in Kulyab city. Poet, philosopher and thinker – Mir Said from Hamadoni (Iran) was born in 1314. When he was young he was studying at famous Arab schools. At the age of 21 he travelled to different countries. Afterwards he returned to Hamadoni and wrote many books on philosophy, ethics and aesthetics. In 1379 Timur won his confidence and the scholar left his relatives and students and went to Kashmir.
The mausoleum was built at the end of 14th and beginning of the 15th century by local masters by an Iranian project. Hamadoni’s students carved inscriptions on a rectangular stone about their teacher and dictums from the Koran. Also his monument was delivered to Kulyab on an elephant from Kashmir; it is placed not far from the mausoleum.
Ajina-teppa (Buddhist monastery) (Kurgan Tyube)
Twelve kms to the East of Kurgan-Tyube, the hill Ajina-teppa rises. Remnants of the Buddhist monastery of the 7th and 8th centuries have been well preserved here (sanctuary, monastic cells, stupas, sculptures and petroglyphs), including a 12m long sleeping Buddha. In 1961 archeological excavation works started at this site which helped to extract from the ground more than 1,500 artifacts: sculptures, reliefs, fragments of wall paintings, remains of a single ensemble residential and religious venues of the Buddhist monastery of the 7th and 8th centuries. Archeologists identified that the monastery in Ajina-teppa consisted of two parts (temple and monastery), two right-angled courts surrounded by buildings and strong walls. One of the sensational discoveries in Ajina-teppa was the huge statue of a clay Buddha in nirvana, which was found in 1966 in one of the monastery corridors though only bottom part of the statue – from the waist to the feet was found. The top part of the sculpture was badly damaged. All other fragments of the sculpture were found separately. Today the sculpture of Buddha in nirvana is exhibited at the National museum of antiquity of Tajikistan in Dushanbe.
Takhti Sangin (OxusTemple)
The British Museum keeps unique treasures which is called the Amu Darya treasure (or the ‘Treasure of Oxus’). It was discovered in 1877 on the right bank of the river Amu Darya (during the Greek period the river was called Oxus). The finding consisted of more than 2,000 golden and silver coins, golden artifacts of the –4th to 3rd century BC. Local people who had found the treasure sold it to merchants who were going with a caravan to India, from where the treasure found itself in England. In 1976 archeologists started excavation works of the city in the area of Takhti Kubad (34 km from the village Kabodian, in the influx of the rivers Vakhsh and Pyanj). This is a stone city, called by archeologists Takhti Sangin turned to be unique. In the centre of the city an ancient temple was excavated which was named ‘Oxus Temple’. In its time it was devoted to the water god, the cult of which existed here from time immemorial. During 15 years of excavation works in Takhti Sangin, more than 5 thousand relics from the Greek-Bactrian period were made.
Khulbuk (Khatlon region)
In 1952 archeologists started researching a site close to Kurgan-Tyube which was called Khisht-teppa (from Tajik ‘Brick hill’). Presumably the ‘extinct’ medieval capital was located here. Its entire area (about 70ha) was full of pieces of clay dishes and glass, ceramic and metal pieces, and fragments of baked brick. According to historians the Khulbuk structures were made from these materials. Further excavation works proved that the castle of the local ruler was namely on this hill, in the heart of Khulbuk. One of the famous findings of Khuattal is the Khulbuk chess game made of ivory. Overall twenty intact and eight half broken figures were found.
Gissar Fortress (Gissar)
The Gissar fortress – is the castle of one of the kings of the Emir of Bukhara. The fortress with walls 1 m thick, holes for guns and cannons rose on the slope of a high hill and was protected by guards. Inside there was a water pool and a garden. Opposite to the fortress there was a bazaar square with caravanserai and many groceries. Several legends are linked with the Gissar fortress that are supported by the local people. According to one of them the fortress was built by Afrasiyab to protect himself from Rustam (famous heroes from the work of Firdawsi ‘Shahname’). Another legend tells that pious Khalif Aly came to these places on his horse Dul-Dul to propagate Islam and he stopped on the mountain which is called today Poi Dul-Dul (to the west of Gissar). In the guise as an acrobat-rope-walker he entered the fortress from the mountain but he was recognized and captured. But his faithful horse brought Aly his sword Zulfikar. With the help of this sword Aly destroyed all his enemies, including the evil magician who owned the fortress at that time. There are also two big plane trees beside the fortress which are 500–700 years old.