Between the world’s most epic road trip and hiking around one of the best trekking destinations you’ve probably never heard of, Dushanbe is a welcomed oasis to relax with modern comforts. I’ve now spent a bit of time in Dushanbe between different trips crisscrossing Tajikistan’s wild mountains and to be totally honest, I love my time in the city. It’s a fascinating mix of Soviet-era meets modern, while still remaining uniquely Tajik. Dushanbe was nothing more than a small village named after it’s popular Monday Bazaar (Dushanbe translates out to Monday in Tajik) until 1929 when under the USSR Dushanbe was named the capital of the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic and Dushanbe began to develop at a rapid pace. As the USSR fell in 1990, Dushanbe became the center of riots that would eventually lead to the country devolving into the Tajikistani Civil War. By 2002 much of the fighting had ended. The dark days are over, the dust has settled and Dushanbe is a leafy, calm oasis.
Quick Dushanbe Facts
Dushanbe is the capital and largest city in Tajikistan.
Dushanbe means ‘Monday‘ in Tajik.
The currency used in the city (as well as all of Tajikistan) is the Tajik Somoni (TJS). It’s current exchange rate is $1 USD = 8.99 TJS.
Archaeological artifacts dating back to the 5th century BC have been found around Dushanbe, suggesting it was a small village from the 5th BC to the 20th AD centuries.
Dushanbe was called Stalinabad from 1929 until the 1950’s.
Dushanbe doesn’t have any wildly exciting attractions, which is why I love visiting the city. Just boring enough to be relaxing, but just bustling and exciting enough to keep you entertained.
What to do & see
Relax in Rudaki Park
With flower gardens, several monuments, and water fountains galore Rudaki Park is a nice place to hang out and watch Tajik people as they carry on about their days. It’s also a great place to meet locals. There are several statues and monuments in and just outside of the park, including:
Ismoil Somoni Statue
One of the most iconic statues in Dushanbe that celebrates Ismoil Somoni, the man whom the currency is named after. Ismoil Somoni was the founder of the Samanid Dynasty in the 10th century.
Rudaki is regarded to be the first literary genius of the modern Persian language. He was born in the Tajik village of Rudak (now Panjrud). His statue sits at the edge of a pond in the heart of Rudaki Park under an arch of colorful tiled stars.
A white marble pillar with the emblem of Tajikistan crowned atop celebrating Tajikistan’s independence.
Look Up at the World’s Tallest Flagpole
Bayrak is the local name of the flagpole. Standing at 165 meters it is the tallest flagpole in the world. It was built to commemorate 20 years of Tajik independence. Located just outside the main Rudaki Park on a pond with the National Library and Palace of Nations nearby.
Appreciate the Architecture at Kokhi Navruz
World’s biggest teahouse turned museum of handicrafts next to the Hyatt Regency Dushanbe and Park Molodezhi. The complex is grandiose, the designs include work of craftsmen from all over Tajikistan. It also includes an art gallery, movie theater, nightclub, and a bowling alley. You can head to their website here, but it is only in Russian.
Watch Sunset From Victory Park
Victory Park is located on the east side of Dushanbe up a hill. The Soviet Memorial to WWII is in Victory Park, along with a restaurant open in summers. From the park you’ll have great views over the city.
Escape To The Oasis Of The Botanical Garden
If you’re visiting in the summer or during the tulip season the Gardens can be worth the 2 TJS entrance fee. There is a zoo located in the gardens as well, but is often described as ‘depressing’.
If you’re looking for some insight into Tajik history and enjoy architectural exhibits this is a good place to visit. Don’t expect to be wowed though, it’s not the most impressive museum, but for those interested in Tajik & Central Asian history it will be worth the visit. The centerpiece is the recreated Ajina-Teppe. 25 TJS for foreigners, 10 TJS additional to take photos.
National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan
A good collection of archeological artifacts from around Tajikistan. This museum houses several of the original pieces that you’ll find copies of on display at the National Museum. There is a 13 meter Reclining Buddha here that is the original one that was taken out of Ajina-Teppe. This is the largest known Buddha in Central Asia. 20 TJS for foreigners.
This museum houses a collection of musical instruments from all over the Central Asian region. Often times you’ll find local musicians playing and practicing here. It can he hard to find as it is unmarked. 10 TJS for foreigners.
There are several bazaars around Dushanbe and even a western style mall.