The Uzbek capital has grown from an oasis in the foothills of the Golestan mountains to a thriving tourist destination for the 21st Century. Last year, Tashkent was named the cultural capital of the Islamic world as the city is home to countless historic mosques and religious buildings – not bad for a place razed to the ground by Genghis Khan in the 13th Century and destroyed by an earthquake in the 20th. Most of the ancient city was damaged beyond repair during the 1917 revolution, but the city remains rich in museums and Soviet-era monuments. Some do not exist today – the largest ever statue of Lenin was replaced in 1991 by a globe, but the palace of Prince Romanov is intact, although the former dwelling of the cousin of Alexander III is now used by the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The main tourist sights are its mosques, which include the Kukeldash Madrassa, a temple currently being restored by the provincial Religious Board of Mawarannahr Moslems. The Telyashayakh mosque contains the Uthman Koran, considered to be the oldest extant Koran in the world. Dating from 655 and stained with the blood of murdered caliph Uthman, it was brought by Timur to Samarkand, seized by the Russians as a war trophy and taken to Saint Petersburg. It was returned to Uzbekistan in 1989. With a vast open-air bazaar, many museums, opera and ballet to be taken in, Tashkent truly has something for everyone. To start your trip, check here at EasyToBook.com for the best accommodation deals.