The Tajik capital of Dushanbe is located in the Hissar Valley in the southwest of the country, just three hours from the Afghan border. Before the Trans-Caspian Railway reached Dushanbe in 1929, it was a village and best known for its Monday market. During the Soviet rule, the city was renamed Stalinabad. The most interesting sights are in and around Prospekt Rudaki, which runs from the train station in the south to the bus station in the north. In addition to the main mosque, there is a synagogue built at the end of the 19th century, a Russian church and an opera house with a portico. The Behzod Museum (History and Regional Studies) north of the train station (Maidoni Aini) is also worth a visit. Stuffed snow leopards and Marco Polo sheep can be seen here. 16 km west of Dushanbe is an ensemble of monuments whose construction took three centuries (16th-19th centuries). Sights include the ruins of a citadel, mosques, two madrasahs (Islamic colleges) and a caravanserai. The largest Buddha figure in Central Asia was discovered in the ruins of a Buddhist temple near Kurgon-Teppa in the south of the country. It is now stored in Dushanbe, disgracefully dismembered into 60 pieces.
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Further west, on the Uzbek border, is Penjikent. Remains of an old fortress are being excavated here. Penjikent is also known for its ornate frescoes.
The Marghuzor Lakes offer a unique natural spectacle: the seven lakes all have a different color that changes with the light conditions.
Supply bottlenecks are the order of the day; there is a bazaar and street market behind Hotel Tajikistan in Dushanbe where you can buy groceries and some handicrafts. You can also buy groceries at Shohmansur Bazaar (also called Ziljoni Bazaar) near Maidoni Aini. Souvenirs can be bought in the shop on the corner of Prospekt Rudaki and Kuchai Ismoili Somoni. Shop opening hours: Mon-Sat 09.00-17.00 (grocery and other shops).
There is a bar in the basement of Hotel Tajikistan which is open some nights. There is a restaurant in Hotel Oktyabrskaya, but it closes at 19.00. Opera and ballet performances take place in the theater on Prospekt Rudaki (matinee performances only). The streets of Dushanbe are deserted after 8 p.m.
A traditional Tajik meal begins with a sweet dish such as halvah and tea, followed by soup and meat, and ends with palov. The national dish of all Central Asian republics, palov consists of chunks of mutton, grated yellow turnips and rice fried in a large wok. Shish kebab (skewered pieces of mutton grilled over a charcoal fire and served with raw onion rings) and non (flatbread) are often found on street corners. Both are also available in restaurants. The Vastoychny Bar-Restaurant in Dushanbe (Prospect Rudaki, near Hotel Tajikistan) serves particularly good shish kebabs. Manty (large pasta pockets with meat filling) and Tschiburecki (fried dough cakes) are among the most popular snacks. Schurbo is a meat and vegetable soup. Laghman is a similar soup but served with noodles. Drinks: Tea (chai) is the national drink and available almost everywhere. Beer, wine, vodka, brandy and sparkling wine (Schampanski) are available in numerous restaurants. If the restaurant does not offer these drinks, you can also bring your own alcoholic drinks. Kefir is often served for breakfast. Tea (chai) is the national drink and available almost everywhere. Beer, wine, vodka, brandy and sparkling wine (Schampanski) are available in numerous restaurants. If the restaurant does not offer these drinks, you can also bring your own alcoholic drinks. Kefir is often served for breakfast. Tea (chai) is the national drink and available almost everywhere. Beer, wine, vodka, brandy and sparkling wine (Schampanski) are available in numerous restaurants. If the restaurant does not offer these drinks, you can also bring your own alcoholic drinks. Kefir is often served for breakfast.
There are few hotels outside of the capital. Although there are no accommodation restrictions for visitors, most hotels, apart from the large hotels in Dushanbe (Hotel Tajikistan and Hotel Independence), are not accustomed to foreign visitors and only the most persistent requests are successful. The big hotels are clean and friendly. It is difficult to find accommodation outside of the capital. In Khorog you can stay in government dachas, but don’t expect western standards.
90% Islam, 10% Russian Orthodox and other minorities.
Social Rules of Conduct
Non (flatbread) should never be placed face down. When entering a house, you take off your shoes but leave your socks on. Shorts are extremely unusual. Therefore, women in shorts inevitably attract the attention of Tajik men.
Best travel time
Subtropical in the southwestern plains, continental climate elsewhere. Temperatures in Dushanbe range from -12°C in December/January to 30°C in July/August. Humidity is generally low. In the mountains, temperatures drop to -50°C and reach a maximum of 20°C in summer.
Area (sq km)
9,537,645 (Source: homosociety)
Population density (per square km)
Population statistics year
Main emergency number