On a terrace above the banks of the Zerafshan (Zeravshan) River, 1.5km southeast of the modern, pleasant but somewhat dull modern town, are the ruins of ancient Penjikent, a major Sogdian town founded in the 5th century and abandoned in the 8th century.
Khojand (or Khojent) is the capital of northern Tajikistan (Sughd province) and the second-largest city in the country. It’s also one of Tajikistan’s oldest towns, founded on the banks of the Syr-Darya by Alexander the Great as his easternmost outpost, Alexandria-Eskhate. In 1986 Khojand – or Leninabad as it was then named – celebrated its 2500th anniversary.
Called Kir by the Parthians, Cyropol by Alexander the Great and Ura-Tyube by the Russians, this small historic town has one of the best preserved old towns in Tajikistan, punctuated with some lovely traditional architecture. Bukhara it’s not, but then there aren’t any tourists either.