Tursunzade: Tajik Hospitality at It’s Finest

When most people think “tourism in Tajikistan,” they usually don’t think Tursunzade. It’s probably true that most people from the Western world don’t go so far to think “tourism in Tajikistan” in the first place, but that’s beside the point.

I myself didn’t think much of Tursunzade aside from it being the last city we went through before the boarder crossing to Uzbekistan last year. I knew they had an aluminum plant. I knew there was some kind of pottery factory. But that was the extent of my knowledge.

Then my office got a new Admin Assistant who lives in Tursunzade and makes the 45 minute commute to the Embassy each day. Who better to introduce the Embassy community at large to this city than a local? Two weeks ago, we finally made that a reality.

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We began our day at the TALCO aluminum plant’s museum. This TALCO plant is the largest in Central Asia and it’s products are Tajikistan’s main export. We weren’t able to take a tour of the plant itself, but they did open up the museum for a brief tour. As far as Tajik museums go, this one was excellent. It was well organized and kept my interest – which is difficult for any museum to do. A great start to the day.

From the museum we went to lunch. When we travel with the Embassy, I’m very adamant that we pre-order all the food. Service here can be painfully slow, especially when trying to accommodate 50 plus people all at once. We’ve never been to Tursunzade before and therefore never been to this restaurant, I was quite nervous for lunch.

Well, as usual, my worrying was unwarranted. The restaurant fed nearly 60 people in just over an hour. Impressive anywhere if you ask me.

After lunch we went to the pottery factory. This was by far my favorite part of the day. We got an exclusive look at every aspect of their process, from molding, to baking, to painting, to glazing. It was pretty amazing.

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By this point in the tour, quite a few people had dropped off and gone back to Dushanbe. What’s great about this little city is that it’s only about 45 minutes from home and the roads are paved and well maintained. Perfect for a day trip.

For those of us who stuck around, we finished the day at the home-turned-museum of Mirzo Tursunzada, for whom the city is named. He was a famous poet and prominent political figure, and today his home now stands as a tribute to his legacy and to Tajikistan’s national history.

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Besides the pottery, my other favorite part of the day was just spending time with the people of Tursunzade. I know they don’t get a lot of tourism, so everyone we encountered was happy to see us and eager to ask questions, snap photos, and show us their warm hospitality. We ended the day at a riverside tapchan restaurant and were treated to a delicious meal of fish and other traditional Tajik food.

So, while Tursunzade probably won’t top your list if you plan at trip to Tajiksitan, I’d highly recommend giving it a try if you’re able. It won’t disappoint.

Travel Notes:

  • Where We Ate: Regar Restaurant – there’s no website. We had plov and it was Uzbek style which I much prefer over Tajikistan’s version.
  • For more on the TALCO Aluminum plant, the only place I could find decent English information was Wikipedia, unfortunately.
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