If you are in Tashkent (or Toshkent) and taking the Metropoliteni (Metro), always budget some extra time in hand because you cannot take a ride on the underground metro railway of the largest city and capital of Uzbekistan without stopping to admire their grand architecture and the historical displays expressed through a profusion of artistic expressions, such as paintings, murals or mosaics. With the ban on photography removed, it is impossible not to stop every now and then to capture a beautiful artwork or architecture. The Metro opened in November 1977 with nine stations. It was the first metro railway in central Asia. Today it has 29 stations across three lines. Here are some of our favourite stations on the Toshkent Metropoliteni.
One of the most famous is the Kosmonavtlar (Cosmonauts) station. The subway station with its colonnaded architecture is themed on space. The ceiling resembles the Milky Way with hanging stars while the walls sport blue ceramic medallions inscribed with images of people associated with space, Icarus to Ulugbek to Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova and others.
Or, take the Paxtakor station on the Chilonzor line. Beautiful murals are the highlight of this station which celebrates Uzbekistan’s traditional role as a top cotton producing region. Hanging over the station’s entrance is a majestic copper relief executed by Uzbekistan’s National Artist Vladimir Burmakin. Inside, tinted mosaic shows cotton blooming from orange stems.
Ming O’rik station is a celebration of Uzbekistan’s delicious apricots…
… which you can buy at Tashkent’s oldest and popular bazar Chorsu approached through its eponymous metro station
The metro stations are also a window into the culture of Uzbekistan. Poet and statesman Alisher Navoi (1441-1501), said to be the greatest representative of Chagatai literature, is also called the founder of early Turkic literature. The station dedicated to him is a fantastic work of architecture with lofty columns topped by arches and a vaulted ceiling decorated with floral patterns.
Uzbekistan, which declared its independence from the Soviet Union (USSR) on August 31, 1991, has been focusing on establishing its own identity. Accordingly, names of seven stations on the metro lines which had Soviet associations were changed. For example, Oktabr Revolyutsiyasi, which commemorated Russia’s October 1917 Revolution, was renamed after the 14th century Chagatai leader Amir Temur.