Dushanbe is the capital of Tajikistan, the largest city in the country. Once a tiny mountain village that blossomed into the vibrant metropolis it is today, Dushanbe’s tree-lined avenues and neoclassical buildings invite exploration. Situated against a backdrop of mountains, the city is undeniably compelling for both its natural and architectural beauty.
The second-tallest free-standing flagpole in the world is the Dushanbe Flagpole, located in front of the Palace of Nations. Though you won't be able to enter the Palace of Nations, this impressive building can be likened to the White House in the United States, though more so in a ceremonial sense. Learn about the country's history at the Museum of Antiquities, located across from Opera Ballet. Though the museum has few English signs, it displays artifacts and relics including Sogdian murals and one of the largest statues of the Buddha of Ajina-Tepe in Central Asia. The Bekhzod National Museum is another site where visitors can learn more about the country’s history and culture. Tajikistan’s ethnography, history, art and archaeology are well-represented by the paintings and collections displayed at the museum. The Gurminj Musical Instrument Museum is also worth a peek, especially if you're fond of music. It houses a variety of Central Asian musical instruments, and also holds cultural events and music demonstrations. The Massive Statue of Samani is also an interesting sight as you're out and about. The statue stands tall in front of the National Library, commemorating the man hailed as the Tajik nation’s father. If you enjoy spending time outdoors, Rudaki Park is quite a sight, with colored lights decorating the numerous fountains. Rudaki Avenue is the best street for a stroll, as is the city's botanical garden. Another option for a walkabout is Victory Park, where visitors will find incredible views of the city from the seasonal restaurant located in the park. For entertainment, the Opera Ballet hosts regular concerts at a fairly cheap price. While you’re near the Opera Ballet, stop by the Zilioni Bazaar nearby to find the best bargains. You'll find everything from dried foods to fresh foods, odds and ends to household products. For more shopping, head to Sadbarg where clothes, makeup and housewares make up most of the goods. Sadbarg is a less-busy, more pricey alternative to the Zilioni Bazaar.
Drive 30 kilometers outside Dushanbe to one of Tajikistan's main monuments, Hissar Historical Reserve. The site includes the actual fortress of Hissar, a "Sangin" (stone) mosque, the mausoleum of "the greatest master" and a history museum. About 30 minutes by car from downtown Dushanbe, you'll find the Korvon Bazaar with its massive indoor clothing and shoes market. Visitors could easily spend an hour -- or several -- perusing rugs, sampling the food and perusing the goods. Shirkent National Park is about 63 kilometers northwest of Dushanbe. It's a nature and history park that preserves the natural ecosystems unique to the region, and where you can see the flora and fauna of the southwestern Hissar region. The natural boundaries of the park -- a ridge to the north, and two rivers to the west and east -- add to the breathtaking views. Romit is a mountain-landscape forest reserve to the east of Dushanbe dedicated to the protection of local wildlife including the Tien Shan brown bear, snow leopard and golden eagles.
Visitors will find conveniently located hotels right in the city's center. Stay at the Serena Hotel, a stylish hotel balancing modern and traditional styling. The hotel is known for exceptional service, and facilities including a rooftop pool and sauna. Best of all, the hotel hosts performances and exhibitions by local artists on a regular basis. If you're looking for something a bit more economical, the Gostinitsa Vakhsh is also centrally located, with some rooms providing stellar views of the town square in front of the Opera. The Hyatt Regency Dushanbe is a pricey but reliable option, with a lounge providing breakfast and evening cocktails, and free guest access to the pool and health club. Hostels can provide good accommodations, especially the Yeti Hostel, being so close to the waterpark and a number of restaurants, and the Green House Hostel, which arranges shuttle services for guests at an additional cost.
Air transportation into Dusahbe is limited, with a few daily flights to the city from Moscow. Taking the train into Dushanbe from Moscow is another option, albeit limited as well. Though there are no international bus services in Dushanbe, intercity bus services are available. The best ways to get around Dushanbe are by shared taxis, minibuses and trolleys. Shared taxis are numbered and use a route system, comparable to a bus. Shared taxis typically cost a flat rate of 3 somoni, and riders hop aboard at designated stations and get off along the route. Minibuses are more crowded, stop more frequently and are cheaper than shared taxis. These buses, or "marshrutkas," cost 1 or 2 somoni, and can be taken from street side bus stops. Trolley bus fares are also 1 somoni, and and have set routes that are different from regular bus routes. Regular buses, which can be confusing to navigate, cost 1 somoni per ride as well. Riding a bicycle around the city is another option. Rentals are available at the Operation Mercy building on Loik Sherali Street.
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