Dushanbe – City Highlights
Dushanbe transformed from a small market village into the buzzing capital city of Tajikistan in only about 100 years. With a population just below a million, Dushanbe is a Soviet-style city with a modern feel to it. The city is in continuous construction with new buildings and monuments arising at a fast pace. Dushanbe is the main gateway to Tajikistan when traveling by airplane, so most people who visit Tajikistan at some point end up in Dushanbe. Find out here 9 must-sees of the capital city of Tajikistan.
1 – Rudaki Park
For a capital city, Dushanbe can be considered quite an oasis of greenery. Innumerable tree-lined avenues, parks and public gardens are scattered throughout Dushanbe. One of the nicest patches of greenery is Rudaki Park, which lies right in the center of Dushanbe. As the name implies, the park is named after Rudaki, who was a renowned Persian poet that lived in the 9th and 10th century. A statue dedicated to Rudaki is located in the heart of the park. The park is surrounded by numerous impressive buildings, including the national library and the not-so-modest presidential palace. A mishmash of lights transforms the park at night into an interesting place to wander around.
2 – Statue of Ismoil Somoni
The most impressive statue in all of Dushanbe is dedicated to who else but Ismoil Somoni – the national hero of Tajikistan. Ismoil Somoni was the most powerful Persian leader during the Samanid reign in the 9th century. The statue of Ismoil Somoni stands in front of a golden arch and is one of the main eye-catchers in Dushanbe. In summer, you can find many people walking around in the evening to enjoy the cooler temperatures after sunset. The statue can be found at the corner of Rudaki Park and frequently forms the center of events during important national celebrations and parades.
3 – Dushanbe Flagpole
Right next to Rudaki Park lies yet another patch of green in the heart of Dushanbe. The main highlight here is a huge flagpole. With a height of 165 meter, it is currently the second highest flagpole in the world. The flag itself is about 60 meters wide and can be seen from many points inside the city. The park in which the flagpole stands (Боғи Парчами Милли – Park of the National Flag) is richly decked out with flowers and a pleasant place to go for a stroll.
4 – National Museum of Tajikistan
There are several museums you can visit in Dushanbe. Arguably the best is the National Museum of Tajikistan situated right inside the park of the flagpole. The museum showcases a variety of exhibitions spread over multiple floors. The bottom floor is dedicated to everything related to the Tajik nature, from geological rock collections to the wildlife that can be encountered in the mountains. The middle floor displays a wide variety of archaeological items of interest from the rich history of Tajikistan. A collection of ancient and contemporary art can be found all the way upstairs. The national museum is opened for visitors every day.
5 – Navruz tea house
Going from the Flag Pole Park across the Varzob river, you stumble upon the largest tea house in Central Asia. The building actually has little to do with a traditional tea house. You can obviously go for a cup of tea, but there are also other types of entertainment inside, even including a cinema. With its decorative architecture and interior design, the tea house is frequently used to receive foreign dignitaries during state visits. The Tajik name for the tea house (Кохи Навруз) literally means Navruz Palace, which is quite an accurate description for its splendor.
Directly behind the Navruz tea house, there is a small artificial lake with yet another park next to it. The main sports complex of Dushanbe is located right across the road from the tea house, with the main football stadium. If you like, you can even go and play some table tennis.
6 – Rohat tea house
Rohat is one of the most famous tea houses in Dushanbe. The tea house features an eye-catching open structure with large pillars and a classical interior design with intricate decorations on the walls and ceiling. Presently, it serves in fact more as a regular restaurant than a genuine tea house. The Rohat tea house is easy to find on the main Rudaki Avenue and opens every day.
7 – Mehrgon market
The Mehrgon bazar is without doubt the most picturesque place to go grocery shopping in Dushanbe. The market is opened every day and features an aesthetic display of spices, fruits, vegetables and other foods. Despite being one of the few places in Tajikistan where you can feel bothered by vendors, the Mehrgon market is certainly worth a visit. You can also visit more regular bazars like Sakhovat or Korvon in the southeast of Dushanbe for a more authentic experience.
8 – Victory Park
As mentioned already, there is no shortage of parks and greenery in Dushanbe. The Victory Park is the largest park and situated higher up on a hill. The cable cart going up is already out of order for more than a decade. In other words, you have to go up either by foot or by car. Once up, a monument commemorating the soldiers that died during the Second World War is the main point of interest. The Victory Park also offers a nice view over the city when the air is not too dusty.
9 – Istiqlol Complex
A newcomer to the tourist attractions in Dushanbe is the Istiqlol Complex situated in the north of the city between Rudaki Street and the Varzob River. Eye-catcher of the complex is a 121 meter high tower topped by a large crown. Around of the tower, there is a large park including a square that can be used for parades. The complex was built in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Tajik independence in 1991. Archways in a baroque style with traditional Tajik elements mark the entrees to the complex. The park and square are publicly accessible, while the entrance fee for the tower is 70 SOM. You can go all the way up to the top (14th floor) for a 360 degrees view over Dushanbe. On the lower floors, there is a museum with some general expositions about Tajik culture.
Several day trips can be made from Dushanbe. A popular place to visit is the Hisor Fortress – a well-preserved 16th century edifice at 25 km of Dushanbe. For those who want to get active, various day-hikes are possible in the mountains directly to the north of Dushanbe. The summer in Dushanbe can be scorching hot. To escape the heat, there is the alternative option to take a day of relaxing near Varzob, where you can find many river-side resting places.