Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, is the present political, cultural and economic centre of the country, buried in verdure and surrounded by newly erected buildings. Dushanbe (until 1961 called Stalinabad) is situated in the centre of the Gissar valley at the height of more than 800 m above sea level. From the north and east the capital is surrounded by foothills, crowned by snow-white caps of the Gissar ridge. Dushanbe has strong continental climate with dry and hot summer and humid cold winter.
Dushanbe occupies the territory astride the river Varzob (within the city called Dushanbinka). In the upper part of the river basin Varzob there are up to 120 glaciers that form favourable microclimate in the mountain gorge and in the outskirts of Dushanbe. The river Varzob generously gives drinking water, irrigates nearby orchards and fields. The picturesque mountain gorge is a place for recreation where equipped camp sites function and which accept guests from all over the country.
The modern Dushanbe is quite an old city with rich historical heritage and at the same time relatively new (it is only 80). The true age of Dushanbe is subject of scientific debates, as numerous findings of archaeologists, ethnographers and historians indicate that almost 2500 years ago this area was settled by people with a culture of craft and city building. In the area of the Putovskiy slope remnants of the Greek-Bactrian kingdom (end of the III B.C.) settlements were found. On the left bank of the river Dushanbinka ancient settlement of the Kushan period (VII – VIII) was found. This settlement according to scientists had quite a big size.
Scientists date the first documentary reference about Dushanbe 1676. In the sources it is named as «Kasabai Dushanbe» which indicates its status as a city. The city was on an advantageous position, on the crossroad of the caravan road which linked the Gissar valley with Bukhara and Samarkand, the Pamirs and Afghanistan. The word «Dushanbe» means «Monday». On Mondays a big bazaar gathered here which was further used as a name for the city. In the beginning of the XX century Dushanbe was a small village where there were some hundred inhabitants. In the XIX century its area made up 272 ha and population amounted to 7-10 thousand people.
The dynamic growth of Dushanbe started from when the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic was founded in 1929. In 1931 Dushanbe was renamed to Stalinabad and was called so for 30 years. In 1938 the plan of the city development with the population of 170 thousand people was planned. At the background of snowy mountains and blue sky the buildings of the opera and ballet, the Houses of the Government and specialists and a range of other beautiful architectural ensembles were built which even today beautify the capital of Tajikistan.
In 1938 at the territory of the Tajik SSR Garm, Kulyab and Leninabad regions were established. In 1961 the historical name - Dushanbe was given back to the capital.
Many historical and cultural monuments are concentrated in Dushanbe. The National museum of the Republic of Tajikistan after K.Behzod (Kamoliddin Behzod – famous master of miniature, who lived in the XV–XVI century) was open in 1934 and tells about history, archeology, and fine arts of Tajik people. Considerable collection of different musical instruments from many countries of the world is collected in the private Museum of musical instruments after Gurminj Zavkibekov. One of the remarkable, old buildings in the city is the State academic theatre of opera and ballet after Sadriddin Ayni. The theatre was launched in 1940 and on its stage beside classical repertoire; national opera and ballet are put on stage.
Two million books on many languages of the world are kept at the republican library after Firdowsi. Genuine treasure house is the collection of books from Ancient East, two thousands manuscripts of Rudaki, Firdowsi, Ibn Sina and Saadi.
Memorial complex devoted to 1100 anniversary of the Samanids State is erected on the central square of the city, with the sculptural image of Ismaili Somoni – the founder of the first Tajik state (IX–Õ). In the right raised hand of the statue is the symbol of the national unity and revival of Tajikistan– golden regal warder – with a sculptural image of solar disk linked with seven stars. The architectural – memorial complex was erected in 1999.
The square named after the 800 anniversary of Moscow city is one of the most beautiful squares of the city. A fountain surrounded by Indian Sea Cow is the favourite place of people for taking rest.
Another favourite and mostly visited place is the cultural and recreational park named after Rudaki which was established recently, surrounded by many beautiful fountains. On the opposite side of the avenue straight opposite the park is the building of the administration of the city– Hukumat (government) of the Dushanbe city.
In the heart of the capital on the right side of the Rudaki avenue is the Russian state drama theatre after V. Mayakovskiy which put on stage unique performances that are famous beyond Tajikistan.
The first professional theatre in the republic – the Tajik state academic theatres of drama after A. Lahuti appeared in 1929, on the basis of the art amateurs’ circle. Wonderful performances with participation of well known honoured actors of Tajikistan by the works of Tajik classics, motifs of Tajik folklore and world classics in Tajik language are put on the stage of the theatre.
Near the President Palace, there is wonderful museum of national architecture and traditional cuisine the famous tea house “Rohat”. Here you can try unique dish of Tajik cuisine and enjoy original ancient architecture of Tajiks.
On one of the side streets, in front of the Agrarian University, there is the Botanical garden of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan which was established in 1933. Here, more than two thousands species of plants grow from all over the world.
Welcome to hospitable Dushanbe where majestic century old plane trees are stretched out; under their arch there are multi-storied buildings, modern business-centres and small buildings in the spirit of Stalin’s period architecture, where every house is full of cordiality and hospitality and each street tells about unique history and development of this inimitable city.