Day 55: Chorsu Bazaar

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Chorsu Bazaar’s dome is 90m across, one of the largest in Central Asia

One of the largest markets of its kind in Central Asia, the domed Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent reflects on a centuries old tradition of indoor markets designed to protect shoppers and merchants from the dust and heat of the harsh Uzbek climate.  Located in the oldest part of Tashkent, this bazaar has been known since the middle ages as a trade center of great importance at a major crossroads  of the silk road.

Historical records indicate an intricate network of buildings on this location functioning as a bazaar since before the 9th century.  In the centuries since, these have been repeatedly rebuilt as needed, culminating in the modern complex seen here today.  The primary monumental structure of today’s bazaar is a dome of reinforced concrete 90 meters in diameter, one of the world’s largest.

Within the dome are multiple levels of stalls selling everything ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, grains, meat and even kimchi.  Once outside the dome, the entire bazaar complex takes up a huge amount of real-estate 500 meters across.  If the dome specializes in raw food products, the countless stalls found outside have everything else, from carpets and clothing, to electronics and handicrafts, Chorsu Bazaar has it all.  Restaurants and cafes also cater to merchants and hungry shoppers.  Shashlik, plov, somsas, and other national food options abound.

In the imediate vicinity of Chorsu Bazaar are the 9th century Khoja Akhrar Mosque and 16th century Kulkedash Madrassa.  The whole complex can be easily reached by public transportation from the Chorsu Metro station, or by any taxi in the city.  All drivers know Chorsu Bazaar.  It’s also not too far of a trek to get to the Khast Imam Complex, although you’ll want to be sure you download the latest maps for your walk through the narrow streets of the old town.  It’s easy to get lost, and seem as if you’ve been transported back in time once away from the busy main roads around the bazaar.

This section of Tashkent is all that remains of the old city, which following the earthquake in 1966 was largely demolished to make way for the modern vision of an ideal Soviet planned city.  Chorsu, on the southern edge of the old town, acts as a buffer between old and new Tashkent.  Large concrete apartment blocks on one side, old adobe houses on the other.  The contrast here is clear, where residents of both sections of town come to shop just as their ancestors have for over 1,000 years.

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16th Century Kulkedash Madrassa in the foreground, with the Khoja Akhrar Mosque behind

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