Holidays in the countries of the former USSR: Central Asia

The capitals of the former Soviet republics are developing at an incredible pace, without losing the charm of the east. We found out what to go for and what to watch in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan.

Uzbekistan, Tashkent

The fourth-largest city (after Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kyiv) in the CIS is Tashkent – a typical Soviet metropolis, with quarters of the old city. After a major earthquake in the mid-60s, the city was completely rebuilt, and today it surprises not so much with oriental flavor as with an inconceivable heap of contradictions: the elongated windows of the Gothic Polish church, ceramic tiles with traditional ornaments from the Kukeldash madrasah, the Lutheran church designed by Benoit and the bell tower -Uspensky Cathedral – where else you will see such a variety. At the same time, the best restaurants, museums and night clubs of the country are also located here, and for those who are tired of the metropolis, there is a beautiful Ugam-Chatkal National Park – it is only an hour and a half drive from the city.

Visa: up to 90 days is not required

Uzbekistan, Samarkand

For centuries, this oldest city in Central Asia has been the main point of the Great Silk Road. The unique architecture of those times, noisy multi-colored bazaars as if appeared from the poems of ancient poets. To carefully consider all the historical sights of Samarkand, it will take several days. The main places of the old city are the Bibi-Khanum Cathedral Mosque, the Ak-Saray Mausoleum, the Namozgoh Mosque, the Khoja Akhror Madrasah, and the Hazrat Khizr Mosque. Around the historical city center lies modern Samarkand with Soviet architecture, parks and wide avenues – a very well-groomed modern city.

Visa: up to 90 days is not required

Tajikistan, Dushanbe

Surrounded by foggy peaks of the mountains, Dushanbe is both the cultural, economic and political center of the country. The long central street of the city is planted with tall trees between the neoclassical skyscrapers of the times of the Union. Inside – gray-bearded old men sipping tea, and a peasant on a donkey is passing by now and then, it’s not clear how maneuvering between a stream of cars. In the center of the city is a well-groomed park named after the poet Rudaki and the highest flagpole in the world. Musical evenings are given at the local Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments, but the main attraction of Dushanbe is 26 km from the city – the ancient Gissar fortress.

Visa: up to 90 days is not required

Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek

“Green” Bishkek impresses not so much with its architecture as with energy. Bars and discos here intersect with monuments to Kyrgyz heroes, and koumiss is still easier to find than overseas “Long Island”. Traditional teahouses and gray-haired old men in colorful bathrobes complete the picture. To enjoy the panorama of the city, you should climb Mount Boz Peldek, which can be reached by public transport.

At the foot of the mountain, there is a complex of ancient graves “Khan’s graves”. The cemetery is known primarily for the fact that one of the last rulers of this area, Solto Baitik Kanaev, is buried here. Among the local population, this place is considered holy.

Visa: up to 90 days is not required

Turkmenistan, Ashgabat

White marble palaces, golden domes, and green parks made modern Ashgabat one of the most amazing discoveries of Central Asia. The city is transforming at an incredible speed, perfectly combining the traditional oriental flavor and the new European spirit. Just to the noisy bazaars were added lounge bars with views of the quaint city sights. Stalin’s skyscrapers and monuments (Monument of Independence and the Arch of Neutrality) – the first thing you see when you are in Ashgabat, but to know the history of the city, you should visit the Carpet Museum and the National Museum.

Visa: $ 155 for 10 days, issued at the border at the Ashgabat airport

Kazakhstan, Astana

Astana only became the capital of Kazakhstan since 1997, and since then a futuristic city of the future has grown on the site of a provincial steppe city.

Every year its horizon becomes more and more fantastic – wide avenues, multi-story entertainment centers, concert halls, and exhibition venues have appeared.

The city is divided into two parts by the Ishin River. The main attractions are located on the left bank: the symbol of Astana is the Baiterek tower, Nur Astana mosque, Kruglya square, the Palace of Peace and Concord, the Khazret Sultan mosque, Khan-Shatyr, and other interesting places.

In 130 kilometers from Astana is the Kurgaldzhinsky nature reserve, where you can meet pink flamingos.

Visa: up to 90 days no flight required

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