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Tashkent – the undiscovered holiday destination you need to visit

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Book flights to Tashkent

Tashkent is often overlooked in favour of the cities that line the Silk Road, but this fascinating location is now reclaiming its reputation as a vibrant and exciting holiday destination. Fly to Tashkent with Qatar Airways and you’ll be introduced to a city that’s seen more than its fair share of history over the centuries and now emerging as a popular holiday hotspot.

An earthquake destroyed much of Tashkent in 1966, reducing many of its elegant bazaars to dust. During that time, Uzbekistan was part of the Soviet Union, and their mark was made on the architecture around the city. Today, modern buildings rub shoulders with ancient Muslim constructions and historic monuments that survived the quake, creating a patchwork of cultures and influences.

Shoppers are spoilt for choice, with everything from markets and bazaars to boutique stores and shopping centres. There are plenty of sights to see, such as the Khast-Imam Ensemble and the 16th century Kukeldash Madrasah. Enigmatic, romantic and definitely off the usual tourist trail, Tashkent is just waiting to be explored.

Tashkent travel highlights

While it’s easy to spend your entire break immersing yourself in the sights and sounds of Tashkent, don’t forget to take the one-hour drive to visit the scenic Chimgan Mountains.

  • Tourist attractions

    The Chorsu Market gives visitors the chance to try out their haggling skills and experience the hustle and bustle of an authentic central Asian bazaar. Capped with an enormous and elegant blue domes, the market is home to dozens of stallholders and street-food vendors. Wander the labyrinth of kiosks and you’ll find everything from clothes and jewellery to herbs, arts and crafts.

    The Hazrat Imam Mosque is a must for anyone who wants to recharge their spiritual batteries. Possibly the most ornate mosque in the city, it sports three bright blue qubba and is watched over by two huge minarets, each around 50m high. Its beauty aside, the mosque is home to the Muyi Mubarak Library, which houses the oldest copy of the Quran in existence.

    Culture lovers can spend an evening at the Navoi Theatre, where the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet present shows such as Swan Lake and The Barber of Seville. Even if you don’t fancy catching a show, the building itself is stunning enough to warrant a visit. Designed by the Soviet architect, Alexey Shchusev, its pastel colours and sweeping arches are worth bringing your camera for a photo or two.

  • Leisure activities

    While it might not be the first thing that springs to mind, taking a trip on the Tashkent Metro is one of the city’s most popular activities for visitors. Built in the 1970s, the aim was to create something that superseded the notion of mere travel. As a result, the metro was designed as a replica of the metros running in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Complete with glittering candelabras and ornate mosaics, each of the 43 stations is a work of art.

    When you feel the need to soak up some scenery but don’t want to get in the car, head to the city centre and find the Amir Temur Square Park. Commemorating the 12th century ruler, Amir Timur, it’s made up of lush gardens with glittering fountains and elegant esplanades.

    Nearby you’ll find the Forums Palace, an impressive building created to host international and national events. At the park’s centre, you’ll find an imposing statue of Timur, standing over seven metres high.

    For some outdoor adventures, hop in a car and head to the Chimgan Mountains, just over an hour away. In a region where most of the countryside is desert, this is a lush oasis overlooked by a ragged mountain range with a tranquil lake at its centre. Nearby Charvak Lake is a great spot for families, as you can indulge in a variety of water sports including swimming, fishing and even paragliding.

  • Food

    When it comes to eating like a local, the first dish you should seek is plov. Somewhere between a pilaf and a stew, plov is a traditional Uzbek dish made from spiced lamb, fluffy rice and vegetables. This dish is so popular that Tashkent even acts as home to the Central Asian Plov Centre. Here, you can watch as chefs cook up the ingredients in a gigantic cauldron, all heated by a traditional wood-fired oven. While the food is simple, it’s so well-loved that it’s worth getting there early, as it regularly sells out.

    Similar to kebabs, shashlik is skewered beef, lamb or chicken, grilled with spices and usually served with salad or potatoes. Vegetarians are well-catered for in the shashlik department, as there are plenty of variations of this dish that only use spiced vegetables. Many restaurants serve this traditional meal and you’ll also find street vendors selling them in the bazaars and markets.

    Judging by the number of sugary treats here, the locals obviously have an extreme case of sweet tooth. You’ll find sticky baklavas, fried doughnuts soaked in honey, sugared peanuts and pastries by the dozen. But be sure to leave some room to sample traditional halva. Honey and tahini are mixed with nuts, chocolate and other flavourings to create a crumbly block of goodness. There are so many versions of halva that your only real option is to try as many as you can.

  • Shopping

    If you want to turn your shopping trip into a day out for the whole family, pay a visit to the Samarkand Darvosa Shopping Mall. There you’ll find an incredible range of shops selling everything from trinkets and toys to high-end designer goods. The extra-special attraction is the on-site cinema and the dedicated children’s play area. If you need a break between purchases, you’ll find plenty of restaurants there for a bite.

    Also known as the Hippodrome Market, the Chilanzar Commodity Market is the place to grab a bargain. Built in 1971, it’s full of unique goods and something special for family and friends back home. You’ll find rugs, jewellery, carpets, fabrics, clothing and even locally-made plates and dishes. There’s also delicious food to be enjoyed here, from Korean street-food to local Uzbek meals.

Essential facts about Tashkent

Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip

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