According to wholevehicles, Khujand is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia and the second largest in the country after Dushanbe. Its population is approximately 170 thousand people. The city stands on the full-flowing Syr Darya River, surrounded by mountains and greenery, in clean air. It cannot be said that the antiquity here is especially pronounced: rather, the city leaves a strong feeling of the Soviet and post-Soviet times. But the fruits in Khujand are juicy and cheap, the streets are calm, and the people are sympathetic.
Today the citadel is one of the most significant and impressive sights of the city. A historical museum is open on its territory.
How to get to Khujand
Firstly, you can get from Uzbekistan, along the highway from Tashkent, in a cheap local taxi. It is much less convenient to travel by land transport from Dushanbe, since on the road you will have to pass two passes in the mountains, where the route, to put it mildly, is not the best, so the journey can take 13 or 14 hours, or even more. There are daily trains from Dushanbe to Khujand, but it is not recommended to use them: they go through Uzbek territory, and inspection at the border is an unpleasant procedure. But planes from Dushanbe to Khujand fly 3 times a day. This travel option is also remarkable for the views of the Pamirs open to air passengers. Khujand Airport is located near Chkalovsk, about 10 km from the city.
A bit of history
It is difficult to say when the first settlement appeared on the site of present-day Khujand: it is only clear that it was a very long time ago. The official date of foundation of Khujand is 514 BC. e. Alexander the Great, having conquered the city, gave it the name of Alexandria Eskhati. In the 8th century, Alexandria (Extreme) fell under the rule of the Arabs, and in the 13th century the Tatar-Mongols came here, who almost completely destroyed it. But the location of Khujand on the river, at the crossroads of several trade routes, including the Great Silk Road, was too good to be abandoned. The city was revived, becoming a major scientific, political, commercial and cultural center. In 1866, Khujand was ceded to the Russian Empire, in Soviet times it was renamed Leninabad.
Entertainment and attractions of Khujand
The citadel of Khujand is part of the city fortifications, which has come down to our days from the 6th-5th centuries BC. e. Of course, in those days the fortress looked a little different. In subsequent centuries, it was completed and expanded, eventually making it almost the most fortified in Central Asia. Genghis Khan completely destroyed the fortress after a long and fierce siege, but by the end of the 15th century it was restored. Today the citadel is one of the most significant and impressive sights of the city. A historical museum is open on its territory.
3 things to do in Khujand:
- See the plane on the embankment of the Syr Darya.
- Take a picture of the Capitoline she-wolf with the twins.
- Go to the Kairakkum reservoir (it is also the Tajik Sea) and swim in plenty.
The Masjidi Jami Mosque was built at the beginning of the 16th century on Panjshanbe Square. At the same time, it is the mausoleum of Sheikh Muslihiddin. This is a majestic building with several colonnades, a large iwan and rich decor. It is distinguished by a row of four small domes and one central, rounded one. Here you can see fine wood carvings on doors and walls, beautiful arched openings, high and narrow, painted ceramic mosaics and elegant paintings. The mosque is considered an amazing example of medieval Asian art.
The oldest Orthodox church in the country was built in 1884. Money for the church of Mary Magdalene was donated by a wealthy metropolitan merchant. Alas, in 2005 the church burned down almost completely and was rebuilt in 2010 and significantly transformed. Today it is a 14-meter building with a gilded cross, which was specially brought here from Moscow. In the interior of the church, you can see several old icons preserved after the fire.
Outside the historical center, Khujand is built up with low private houses a couple of floors, somewhat reminiscent of the Crimean cities. Clean and calm streets planted with trees. Here and there, one comes across evidence of the Soviet heritage – these are monuments to Ilyich, and busts of heroes of socialist labor, and wall paintings and reliefs depicting hardworking citizens or rushing into space.
Probably the most noticeable monument of the city is dedicated to the legendary ruler Ismail Samani and stands on a high granite stele, especially well visible from the river. A gilded bronze statue replaced Lenin who used to stand here. The height of the crowned figure of the hero is 13 m, and together with the stele, the monument reaches 27 m. And the monument to the famous Persian-Tajik poet Kamol Khujandi was erected on the Star Square of Khujand in 1996. The poet was born in the city, and this is reflected in his pseudonym – Khujandi. The 3.5 m high statue with large wings was created in two copies: the second one is located in Tabriz, where the poet was buried.
The city market of Panjshanbe is located on the square of the same name. Here the traveler is waiting for all the flavor, in search of which tourists visit oriental markets. In the market, it is worth buying a barbecue with a tortilla, and on the square itself, take pictures of the Sheikh’s mausoleum and the minaret.
Neighborhood of Khujand
The Kairakkum reservoir is located 20 km from Khujand – an artificial reservoir more than 50 km long. It was created for the construction of a hydroelectric power station in Soviet times, and to this day there are many valuable fish here, and migratory birds fly here in the season. Near the coast with a sandy beach, many recreation centers and summer camps have been built, and a wide variety of fruits grow nearby.
About 60 km from the city, if you drive towards Dushanbe, there is the city of Istaravshan. It is worth a trip here to admire the dilapidated ancient fortress and ancient mosques. In addition, wonderful views of the snow-capped Pamir peaks open up from the city. You can get to the town by taxi.