Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe

Dushanbe looks back on a long tradition of trade. The name of the city on the legendary Silk Road means Monday Market.

For thousands of years, the overland route to China has fascinated merchants, pilgrims, adventurers or hippies. Alexander the Great’s campaigns took him as far as areas that are now called Tajikistan and Pakistan, and Marco Polo made it to China on behalf of Venice, where he stayed for several years and Genghis Khan’s grandson temporarily appointed him prefect. Today, the People’s Republic of China is expanding the Silk Road as a massive infrastructure project under the title One Belt, One Road.

Monumentales Denkmal für Ismail Somoni in der tadschikischen Hauptstadt Duschanbe. Auch der Somoni, die Währung Tadschikistans, ist nach dem Feldherrn benannt / © Foto: Georg Berg
Monument to Ismail Somoni in the Tajik capital Dushanbe. The somoni, the currency of Tajikistan, is also named after the commander / © Photo: Georg Berg

In the Tajik capital Dushanbe, a monumental memorial depicts the commander Ismoil Somoni, after whom the country’s currency is also named. However, the cult of personality has long since arrived in the present as well. Large-format pictures of President Emomali Rahmon hang throughout Tajikistan. In the Tajik capital Dushanbe, national pride manifests itself in magnificent buildings and sculptures of famous national heroes. Despite all the search for identity, the Soviet style with its urge for gigantism is unmistakable in the monumental architecture. On the highest flagpole (165 meters) in the world, the oversized national flag decorated with a golden crown and stars flies seemingly in slow motion.

Eine goldene Krone und Sterne verzieren die Flagge Tadschikistans, die in Duschanbe an einem 165 Meter hohen Fahnenmast weht / © Foto: Georg Berg
A golden crown and stars decorate the flag of Tajikistan flying on a 165-meter flagpole in Dushanbe / © Photo: Georg Berg

The cooling touch of fountains makes the park in the center of the city a popular destination. Here, the heat of summer is easy to bear. The expansive view of public buildings is a change from the hustle and bustle of the city’s commercial streets.

Das tadschikische Nationalmuseum liegt in Duschanbe an einem künstlich angelegten See / © Foto: Georg Berg
The Tajik National Museum is located in Dushanbe on an artificial lake / © Photo: Georg Berg
Die goldene Kuppel, zahlreiche Säulen und die prominente Perspektive sprechen eine eindeutige Sprache: Das kann nur der Präsidentenpalast sein / © Foto: Georg Berg
The golden dome, numerous columns and prominent perspective speak a clear language: this can only be the presidential palace / © Photo: Georg Berg
Die 2012 eröffneten Nationalbibliothek ist die größte Bibliothek Zentralasiens. Auf neun Etagen soll in den Regalen noch Platz für viel mehr Bücher sein / © Foto: Georg Berg
Opened in 2012, the National Library is the largest library in Central Asia. On nine floors, there should still be room on the shelves for many more books / © Photo: Georg Berg
Entlang der ehemaligen Seidenstraße werden noch immer auf allen Märkten feine Textilien angeboten / © Foto: Georg Berg
Along the former Silk Road, fine textiles are still offered at all markets / © Photo: Georg Berg
Große Mengen getrockneter Früchte, Nüsse und natürlich Gewürze werden in der modernen Markthalle von Duschanbe angeboten. Die heutige Hauptstadt Tadschikistans war noch ein kleines Dorf, als der Handel an der Seidenstraße begannt / © Foto: Georg Berg
Large quantities of dried fruits, nuts and of course spices are offered in the modern market hall of Dushanbe. Today’s capital of Tajikistan was still a small village when trade along the Silk Road began / © Photo: Georg Berg
In der dünn besiedelten Gebirgslandschaft entlang der chinesischen Grenze erstreckt sich ein hunderte Kilometer langer Stacheldrahtzaun / © Foto: Georg Berg
In the sparsely populated mountainous landscape along the Chinese border, a barbed wire fence stretches for hundreds of kilometers / © Photo: Georg Berg

The Chinese had to defend themselves primarily against hostile nomadic peoples from the north. Against the Hun hordes, even the great Chinese wall did not offer one hundred percent protection. The best horses from today’s Kyrgyzstan were urgently needed and exchanged for silk.

Jurten der kirgisischen Nomaden am tadschikischen Karakul-See, der mit seiner dunklen Farbe einen schönen Kontrast zu den schneebedeckten Gipfeln bildet / © Foto: Georg Berg
Yurts of the Kyrgyz nomads at the Tajik Karakul Lake, which with its dark color forms a beautiful contrast to the snow-covered peaks / © Photo: Georg Berg

Bartering among direct neighbors was common. None of the merchants had any idea of the entire Silk Road, as each knew only a section. The Silk Road is probably more to be understood as a corridor with various routes used side by side than as a precisely determinable route.

Auf der Hochebene zwischen denen beiden Gebirgen Pamir und Tian Shan grasen kirgisische Pferde vor einer verlassenen sowjetischen Radarstation / © Foto: Georg Berg
On the plateau between the Pamir and Tian Shan mountains, Kyrgyz horses graze in front of an abandoned Soviet radar station / © Photo: Georg Berg

Reportage: Unforgettable at Peak LeninReportage
: Pamir leg of the Silk RoadBackground Reportage
: Special Adventures on the Silk Road

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Calendar

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On the way on the traces of Marco Polo

The Silk Road leads to the most promising places in the world. On the so-called Pamir Highway, the old trade route in High Asia leads through the Pamir Mountains, where, along with the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush, the highest mountains on earth can be found. Even Marco Polo used some of the routes on his journey to China, which still lead across the roof of the world today.

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Dushanbe

The city of Dushanbe is located on the Silk Road and, as in the Middle Ages, is still an important trading center today. This is proven by the many representative buildings and the lively life in the modern market hall. The amount of fresh products and especially the variety of oriental spices are overwhelming. With this calendar you can enjoy the Orient in abundance for a whole year.

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The cost of accommodation with half board was covered by the organizer

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