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Dushanbe lacks the architectural and historical draws of Samarkand and Bukhara and so most travelers linger just long enough to pick up permits and supplies en route to the grand surrounding mountains. But Tajikistan's capital is an attractive city of fountains, open-air cafes, cosmopolitan restaurants and pastel-colored neoclassical buildings that could have been lifted from St. Petersburg, and it's a pleasant place to spend a few days. In many ways Dushanbe is just an overgrown village and almost everything you need is within two blocks of the main avenue Rudaki. Monuments to a Persian past dot the city and it came as no surprise that ...

Dushanbe lacks the architectural and historical draws of Samarkand and Bukhara and so most travelers linger just long enough to pick up permits and supplies en route to the grand surrounding mountains. But Tajikistan's capital is an attractive city of fountains, open-air cafes, cosmopolitan restaurants and pastel-colored neoclassical buildings that could have been lifted from St. Petersburg, and it's a pleasant place to spend a few days. In many ways Dushanbe is just an overgrown village and almost everything you need is within two blocks of the main avenue Rudaki. Monuments to a Persian past dot the city and it came as no surprise that independent Tajikistan replaced their Lenin with a giant statue of Ismoili Somoni, the 10th century Samanid emperor of Central Asia. Look beyond the big boulevards though, and you'll see scull-capped Tajiks heading down alleyways to Friday prayers and bazaar merchants haggling over classic Silk Road produce. More than anything the city is a launch pad to the stunning mountain gems of the Pamir and Fan mountains. Unfortunately the mountains are at their best in July and August, when the city bakes in temperatures regularly exceeding 40 C (104 F).

Bradley Mayhew
About the Expert

Bradley Mayhew is the author of more than 25 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, including Central Asia, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Jordan, and is coauthor of the Odyssey guide to Uzbekistan.

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Bradley Mayhew for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    March to June, September to November