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The ancient areas of Central Asia such as Kulob, Vose, Penjikent (known since the 6th century), Khujand, Ura-Tyube, Isfara, Konibodom and many others are all located at the territory of modern Tajikistan. We invite you to take some unforgettable tours across the historical cities of Tajikistan, where more than 20 centuries ago trade, crafts and culture were well developed. Along the century old roads of these cities, numerous caravans of various people and tribes of Silk Road stopped by caravanserais and trade in the Eastern bazzars.

The oldest city Penjikent, which according to the calculations by scientists, is more than 5,500 years old is located in the picturesque valley of the river Zerafshan. Fertility of these lands led to emergence of small settlements here, and then an entire city, which was prosperous in the 5th to the 8th centuries AD. Beautiful, well reinforced, well-planned, and a civilized city, Penjikent was one of the main cultural and artisanal centers of Sogd. In its time it was called the ‘Central Asian Pompeii’. Penjikent laid on the way from Samarkand to the mountains of Kuhistan. Not a single caravan, or a man, descending the mountain in Samarkand and returning could not pass through Penjikent, which controlled this part of the Silk Road. After the collapse of the empire, when in the 8th century Arab invaders conquered and destroyed the city, people escaped to the mountains. According to scholars, the descendants of the ancient Soghdians are still living in Yagnob, speaking one of the rare dialects of the Soghdian language. At the current moment the city of Penjikent is located in the South-Eastern part of a city with the similar name and is a unique cultural monument in all of Central Asia.

Ancient Ura-Tyube (modern Istaravshan) was a big trade centre in the crossroad of the historical caravan routes, which was famous by numerous neighborhoods of weavers and artisans. The city is more than 2,500 years old. It was established in the 6th century BC by the king of Akhamenids Kir. The city was called Kiropol or Kurushkada. By that time when Alexander the Great conquered Central Asia (4th century BC), Kurushkada was already a large and reinforced city. The Greek army managed to enter the city through the dried up stream of the canal and open the gates through a cunning trick. The city was destroyed by Alexander’s order. For centuries it had different names, was repeatedly destroyed and again raised from the ashes. There are many historical monuments in the city – mosques, mausoleums and madrasah; there are also 150 historical, ethnographic and cultural monuments at the area of Istaravshan. The vicinity of Istaravshan stores rich archeological treasures among which is the city of Shahristan.

Kurgan Tube is the administrative centre of the Khatlon region, which is located in the centre of a lush oasis in the Vakhsh valley, 100 km to the south of the capital. The area of the modern Kurgan-Tyube was known in the medieval times as Khuatal, and the city itself Levakend, or Vakhsh. In ancient times this place was famous for its marksman and a special breed of sheep. Close to Kurgan-Tube, on the Vakhsh river bank, there is a unique historical place – ruins of the city Lagman (10th to 13th century). Archeologists found pipes of the old water supply line, bricked wells, and fortress walls with towers. This city was a big populated centre of ancient Bactria. Twelve kms away to the East of Kurgan-Tube, the hill of Ajina Teppa rises. The remnants of the Buddhist monastery of the –7th to 8th centuries are preserve here (sanctuaries, monastic cells, stupas, and petroglyphs), including the 12m long figure of the laying sleeping Buddha. According to a legend the name Kurgan-Tube originated after a local prince ordered all those who passed by to bring a skullcap-full of earth. On a man-made barrow an observation point was built. This how popular etymology explains the name of the city, in the centre of which there is in reality a barrow. The Turkish word ‘Tube’ means ‘hill’.

The first records of Khujand can be seen in the works of Aristotle. For 2,500 years the city was raised from ruins after raids of invaders several times. From ancient times, being located at the crossroads of trade roads of the West and East, Khujand was one of the main economic and cultural centers of Central Asia, and a big centre on the Silk Road. Products from silk, jewellery made by masters in Khujand were famous beyond the east. The old names of city neighborhoods remind about the past importance of these crafts: Zargaron (jeweler), Pillakashon (silk-winders), Sangburon (scabblers) and so on. The city existed during the Akhamenids’ dynasty. The army of Alexander the Great, capturing the city, reinforced it, and named it Alexandriya Eskhata. Khujand was home for prominent astronomers, mathematicians, doctors, historians, poets and musician. Many tourists are attracted by the mausoleum of Shaikh Musleheddin, mosques and minarets of the 15th to 18th centuries and colorful Eastern bazaar.

Kulyab – is one of the ancient cities of the country. The name of the city apparently comes from the Tajik word ‘Kulob’ — ‘lake’s water’, ‘wetland’ or ‘bushes’. For the first time the city was mentioned with its current name in the 13th century.. In the medieval period the city was an important political, economic and cultural centre. In the 17th to the 19th centuries over fourty prominent poets lived and worked in Kulyab. One of the unique historical and architectural monuments of the city is the mausoleum of the prominent thinker and religious figure of the 4th century Mir Said Ali Hamadony. The mountain Khoja Mumin – a unique natural monument which consists of pure salt of various colors –is of fascinating sight. Another miracle of Khoja Mumin are caves which are famous for their musicality; wonderful sounds are generated by wind, which blows through, as if keys, the long and thin icicle-stalactites.
© 2010 The Committee of Youth Affairs, Sports and Tourism under the Government of Republic of Tajikistan
6, Sportivnaya Str., Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 734025, E-mail: info@visittajikistan.tj, www.visittajikistan.tj
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