Khujand

Northern Tajikistan includes the western part of the Ferghana cut and the extreme southern-eastern part of Golodnaya steppe surrounded by mountains. The Kuramin range, forming the northern natural border of the region, spreads from the north-east to the south-west. Only some of its parts exceed 2,000m above sea level. The highest areas that are part of it are Kuramin and Turkestan ranges as well as the Mogoltau Mountains. The south-eastern part of the Golodnaya Steppe is a plain that is within the boundaries of altitudes of 250-300m from the south-east to the north-west. Meadow steppes spread out in the highland zone. The plain part is widely used for production of cotton and other heat-loving crops.  From ancient times farmers have been occupied with fruit-growing, viticulture and melon and gourd growing. The bottom parts of the slopes are used for dry farming. 

The findings of the Northern-Tajik archeological expedition of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan discovered remains of a big urban centre on the left bank of the  Syrdarya river, underneath present-day Khojent. Here the first settlements which later transformed into a big populated area emerged on a relatively flat and convenient bank of the Syrdarya river, in the outfall of its full inflow Khojabakirgana. In the 4th – 5th centuries, defensive walls  were constructed. The territory of ancient Khojent in the 6th – 4th century B.C. made itself intensively and all over habitable: a citadel was built, delicate and fine samples of handicraft and hand made ceramic manifacture. Khojent rapidly developed when in 329 B.C. the Greek-Macedonian troops led by Alexander the Great entered Khojent.   

According to the records of ancient Greek historians in 329 B.C. Alexander the Great founded a reinforced fortress on the River of Tanais or Yaksart (today Syrdarya). Alexander populated it with Greek warriors and neighbouring inhabitants. Later, due to its geographic and strategic position the fortress started to be intensively populated, turning into a big city (relatively in those days), which was know in history as Alexandriya the Extream (Eskhata). The city prospered for a long period and grew rich: palaces, mosques and citadels were built. The medieval Khojent produced many famous figures of Tajik and Eastern cultures. The famous scholar, mathematician and astronomer, constructor of astronomic instruments Abumakhmud Khujandi was born and grew up in Khojent in the second half of the 10th  century. 

In the 11th – 12th  centuries a whole group of illustrious scientists, poets and doctors lived and worked in the Iranian city of Isfahan who were from Khojent by birth and known as representatives of the family “Oly Khujand”. Kamoli Khujandi – author of the famous gazelles, was named “the Nightingale of Khojent” in the 14th century. Also the first-rate poetess, musician and dancer Mahasti was just as famous in medieval times. In the 19th century cultural figures such as Toshkhoja Asiri, Sodirkhon Hofiz, and Khoji Yusuf carried out active enlightening activities. 

At the end of the 14th century and begining of 15th centuries Khojent together with the region was part of Tamerlan’s state. In the 18th – 19th centuries the city grew turning into one of the biggest cities of the Central Asia, with its area being as big as Kokand and Bukhara. 

Today Khojent is a booming industrial and cultural centre of Tajikistan. The city attracts tourists due to its numerous uniqe monuments of old times. Medieval citadels and mosques have been preserved here. One of the most famous mosques and mausoleums is of Sheikh Muslihiddin’s dating back to the 17th – 18th centuries. According to folk legends he was burried in the village of Unji (suburb of Khojent) but after some times his worshippers took his ashes and built a mauseleum on his grave. 

Another not less interesting historical-architectural place of attraction, known as Khazratishoh is located in the old part of Istravshan city. It consists of three religious constructions: mausoleums  of Khazratishoh, of Khudoyor Va’lami and Khazratishoh mosques (known as Namozgoh mosque), located in a semicirle around a spring. Khazratishoh is a name of a saint, who according to legends was the brother to Kusamu ibn-Abbasu who was the Prophet Muhammad (a) cousine. 
Travelling accros northern Tajikistan and Khojent you will discover amazing monuments of the Stone Age for yourself: Aktangi shed (neolit IVI century), Sarazm settlement of the bronze age, Nurtepa ancient settlement (VII-VIII B.C.), ancient Khojent (VI B.C.), where Alexander the Great build a fortress Alexandria the Extreme, ancient Penjikent, the big cultural centre of Soghd (VI-VI), Kakhkakha Fortress 1-III centuries, Bunjikat – capital of Usturashan, castles on the mountain of Mug (VI-VIII), Filmandar (V), Chilkhujra (V-VII); Gardani Hisor and Kum settlements (V-VIII); Koni Mansur mine (V-VII). 

Not far from Khojent the famous Kairakum reservoir is located which attracts many tourists. It appeared as a result of the construction of a hydroelectric station on the Syrdarya river. The mild climate, good weather, clean mirror-like surface of the lake provides the ideal opportunity for active rest: boating, fishing, tours of the archeological excavations. 
Mountaineers have long chosen the Ak-Su area located close to Khojent as a perfect destination. This group of mountains stands out for its beauty, wild nature and massive peaks with altitudes exceeding 5,000m (Ak-Su – 5,355 m, Blok-5,239m). Picturesque landscapes, softened by rapid rivers, interesting history of centuries gone past –will leave a lasting impression on you and make your travel across Tajikistan indeed unforgattable.