Islamic Site in Istaravshan

Sary Mazar

Shaded by ancient chinar (plane) trees, a pair of small but ornately stucco-fronted 17th-century tombs are set beside a fine old mosque with tapering wooden columns. A set of 18 tiny windowless cells known as chehlk…
Fortress in Istaravshan

Mug Teppe

In the northeast of the city, rising above low-level housing, this grassy, flat-topped hill once boasted a fine citadel. Stormed by Alexander the Great in 329 BC and Arabs in AD 772, only minimal mud-wall traces of …
Old Town in Istaravshan


The old town is an intriguing maze of mudbrick lanes with water channels running along the centre of the thoroughfare. Houses are tantalisingly hidden from view behind straw-and-wattle plastered walls, but occasiona…
Islamic Site in Istaravshan

Abdullatif Sultan Medressa

The 15th-century Abdullatif Sultan Medressa is also known as the Kök Gumbaz (Blue Dome) after its turquoise Timurid dome. Closed in Soviet times, the religious school now gives a broad tuition, including English, to…
Market in Istaravshan


The vast and colourful central bazaar is a town unto itself. A three-storey, triple arched building indicates the main hub but stalls selling everything from 'all you ever wanted' to 'nothing you need' have flooded …
Mosque in Istaravshan


Tucked behind the site of a giant new mosque, the 1910 Hauz-i-Sangin Mosque has fine ceiling paintings and a dry octagonal hauz (pool) flanked by hollyhocks in the yard. The tiny renovated shrine room is the tomb of…
Mosque in Istaravshan

Hazrat-i-Shah Mosque

Half-hidden behind Soviet apartment blocks at Lenin 100-102, the modern Hazrat-i-Shah Mosque is tucked behind a poets' garden full of scented roses. Despite appearances, the five-level minaret dates from 2002.
Islamic Site in Istaravshan

Chor Gumbaz

In the northwest corner of town is the one-room Mazar-i-Chor Gumbaz whose four tin cupolas conceal some of Tajikistan’s most impressive old painted ceilings.