Zerafshan Valley attractions

Lake in Iskander-Kul & Sarytag


Measuring around 4km in length, this stunning lake (2195m), high in the Fan Mountains, is a spectacle not to be missed. Willows, feathery tamarisk and mulberry dress the edges of the shore, and at certain times of t…
Archaeological Site in Penjikent

Ancient Penjikent

On a terrace above the banks of River Zerafshan, 1.5km southeast of today's Penjikent, the ruins of a major Sogdian town slowly bake to dust. Looking across the minimal ruins, dubbed the 'Pompeii of Central Asia', i…
Museum in Penjikent

Rudaki Museum

This elegant single-storey museum, with its white Doric columns and fine floral display, assigns a room to its namesake, Abu Abdullah Rudaki (858–941), the 'father of Persian poetry'. The museum is of more interest,…
Mausoleum in Penjikent

Rudaki Cultural Complex

This important shrine complex marks the spot where the remains of the great Persian poet Rudaki (858–941) were found in 1958. The modern complex, built in 2008 to mark the 1150 year anniversary of the 'founder of th…
Mausoleum in Penjikent

Mazor-i Sharif

By some accounts, Mazor-i Sharif (meaning 'noble shrine') marks the ancient last resting place of an 8th-century missionary from Basra, Mohammad Bashoro. With 14th-century elaborations, this active pilgrimage site i…
Mosque in Penjikent

Olim Dodkhokh Complex

On cold Friday lunchtimes, dozens of older men with flowing white beards, turbans, upturned boots and swishing purple/green iridescent joma robes make their way to prayers at this mosque-madrassa complex opposite th…
Statue in Penjikent

Loik Sherali Statue

Modern-day poet Loik Sherali was born in Mazari Sharif near Penjikent in 1941. He earned the title 'People's Poet of Tajikistan' and when he died in 2000 was buried alongside other notables in Dushanbe. His statue s…
Museum in Penjikent

Ancient Penjikent Museum

This small museum at Ancient Penjikent chronicles the excavations at the site and displays some copies of the best frescoes (some of them 15m long). Sculptures, pottery and manuscripts were also found at the site an…
Shrine in Veshab

Shams-i Tabrizi Shrine

In the centre of Vershab, a wide footpath descending past the main shop leads to a mausoleum that looks recently built. Locals claim that it's the shrine of Shams-i Tabrizi, the muse of Persian poet Rumi.
Islamic Site in Ayni


Protected by a silver-domed, Plexiglass casing, Ayni's most treasured landmark is an eroded 10th-century mudbrick minaret. The mosque beside the Varz-i-Minor has some attractive woodwork.