Soviet seismic modernism, experimental houses, the most beautiful metro in the world, the food court of the Great Silk Road, pilaf, a new culture and local advice.
Sunny, warm, not yet spoiled by fashionable institutions on every corner of the city with world masterpieces, which still do not have crowds of visitors, incredible architectural Soviet modernism, courtyards in which acacia grows and persimmon spirits, which have not yet had time to reach all the shots. Tashkent is like a love in which no one has yet confessed. In five years it will become the new Tbilisi, in twenty – the world’s cultural capital (there is every chance). Hurry to see him like that.
How a new city invents itself
At the end of 2019, Uzbekistan became the country of the year according to The Economist. The republic has ceased to be an "old-fashioned Soviet dictatorship," of course, it still has a long way to go, the magazine notes, "but not a single country has advanced so far." The new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has begun such changes in politics, economics, and culture that it seems that the sash of windows slam shut when a strong wind opens them. The first were tectonic reforms to restore rights and freedoms, such as the prohibition of forced labor in cotton fields. Together with the renewal of the political regime, the country becomes literally open: now you can enter here without a visa.
In the fall of 2021, an exhibition dedicated to the Silk Road will open in the Louvre – 300 exhibits of the cultural heritage of Uzbekistan will be collected for the first time in one space. And not only in the Louvre. Museum of Art in Uzbekistan with a complex collection, in which historically there was a place for carpets with national ornaments and Picasso ceramics, it will be in a new space that Tadao Ando will take up. The star Japanese architect, laureate of the Pritzker Prize, especially appreciates (and knows how to work) national aesthetics, noting that the museum should become unlike any of his projects “neither in the East nor in the West”, as well as "a symbol of renaissance and hope. "
Another point of no return in the cultural landscape of the city is the Center for Contemporary Art. In the building of the former diesel power station, which provided energy for the first tram line in Tashkent, the first public program has already been held (the Garage museum helped), as well as an exhibition by the Uzbek artist Saodat Ismailova, who lives between Tashkent and Paris. In the summer there will be a large exhibition devoted to algorithms (Uzbekistan is the birthplace of algorithms, mathematician Al-Khwarizmi was born in the west of the country).
The Center for Contemporary Art in Tashkent promises to be progressive – work on its projects will be built in an open laboratory mode, which will include young Uzbek artists and researchers. The same group will work on the preparation of the national pavilion of Uzbekistan at the Venice Biennale in 2020 and 2021 – the country had never before participated in this forum of contemporary art and architecture.
Add to this the students who choose where to continue their education – in their own country or go to Europe – hundreds of young people who believe in the power of reforms and returned to the country and the average age of a resident of Uzbekistan is slightly more than 26 years. This is a country that everyone will recognize again tomorrow.
It’s hard for me to talk about my favorite places in Tashkent since I left the city when I was 16 years old. As a teenager, I dealt with my rich inner world and the problems associated with it. Accordingly, psychogeographic and urbanistic experiences were experienced in deep childhood. I remember the Khrushchev’s yard in which I grew up. All residents of the house know each other well, and you can not go to kindergarten and just hang around in the neighbors. A vivid memory: the elders bring me to Independence Square (former Lenin Square) to walk along the fountain on a hot summer day. I remember that in those years there were a lot of people on the square. I remember the tadpoles at the bottom of a shallow pool. And wet feet. He loved the embankments of the Tashkent canal with mountain water, we swam in it. I don’t know if they’re doing it now, but in those years the water was clear and icy. I clearly remember our "Broadway" – one of the few public spaces in the city. They sold pirated cassettes and discs (album "Marine" "Mummy Troll"album "Discovery" Daft Punk among important events). Very green and comfortable city.
In the early 2000s, Tashkent became completely sterile. Most of Soviet architecture was somehow unrecognizably reconstructed. Public spaces are cleared of people. A few years ago, the country's leadership decided to head for openness and change. What I am very happy about. Changes are felt at the most basic level – from the moment you exit the plane. Suddenly it turned out that the logistics inside the airport could be put in order. Suddenly it turned out that the free press – it's not so scary. Suddenly it turned out that crowds in squares and squares –it's good. I am very pleased with these and other changes. I hope they are inevitable.
Seismic modernism, free theater and pilaf
In the 70s, Tashkent became the place, on the one hand, of bold, on the other hand, practical architectural experiments. This could not have happened if not for the tragedy: in the spring of 1966, an earthquake almost completely destroyed the central part of Tashkent. The city needed to be urgently restored: this is how the urban phenomenon, which some call seismic modernism, appeared. You should come here only for samples of this forced-free style, which nowhere else to meet,– see the Chilanzar district, the Pearl experimental house, the market "Chorsu", metro, ornaments and mosaics.
Olga Kazakova, historian of architecture
Speaking about the legacy of Soviet modernism in Tashkent, it is worth bearing in mind several rather important factors that influenced the formation of this architecture. Firstly, it is the largest city in Central Asia, and in Soviet times it was considered as the center of the region and as a showcase of the Soviet Union “in the east”, therefore quite substantial funding was allocated for the “front” architecture of Tashkent. In addition, this is one of the most obvious attempts to create architecture, "national in form, communist in content", an attempt to demonstrate the Soviet modernization of the "East" taking into account, in the language of the time, "local architectural traditions." The fact that many of the most significant buildings of Soviet modernism were designed in Moscow — that is, the architects from the center — created “modern national architecture” in Tashkent is particularly specific to this attempt. Why it happened is a topic for another discussion. Another major factor is the Tashkent earthquake of 1966, which in many respects has become a reference point for the formation of a new image of the city – just in the style of Soviet modernism.
The giant Lenin Square was designed as a central ensemble – with administrative buildings and a huge open space, which, to put it mildly, did not correspond to local climatic conditions and traditions, but was an artifact interesting from the point of view of Soviet urban planning. Today this square is the territory of the government complex, it has been significantly rebuilt, and access is closed.
The first symbol of the new era of housing construction was the residential ensemble in Hamid Alimjan Square, in the center of Tashkent. Four residential towers with sky-blue facades and a one-story “bracket” overlooking the square were designed in Moscow. High-rise buildings are earthquake-resistant – this was the main requirement – they are connected by an underground passage. For symmetry, in the 90s it was decided to build the four houses opposite, but it’s better to look at the originals.
Experimental house "Pearls"
Entering the "Pearl", you are captured by a happy communal life. The gallery experimental 16-storey residential building was built according to the project of the Tashkent architect Ophelia Aydinova. It seemed that there was more and more to live here: public courtyards or, in another way, recreation every three floors, a laundry in the basement, a roof with a pool for all residents. In fact, everything turned into a survival experiment: the house was built for 11 years, and some of the residents simply did not wait for their apartments. Those who wait, grumble at the inconvenience of operation, have been waiting for repair for years and, it seems, can no longer imbue the dream of the 1985 model.
In "Pearls" (the name of the house was due to a jewelry store opened in the basement) need to get: Look at rounded corners, intricate transitions, basketball hoops, trees and other attributes of a street courtyard on high floors. The roof is a separate world. Complicated engineering structures, a spiral staircase to the tower, a swimming pool and a view of the city – it is good that this experiment took place.
“Tashkent, the southernmost millionth metropolis of the Soviet Union, is a city that amazes with architectural contrasts and paradoxes. Tashkent is famous for the most beautiful prefabricated buildings in the world. In urban terms, it has always been distinguished by a certain duality generated by the coexistence of the ancient eastern and new Russian cities. Obviously, these contrasts and this duality appeared after the devastating earthquake of 1966, when the new city survived and the old one turned into ruins. But this tragic event also had a positive side. "
There are three lines and 29 stations in the Tashkent metro. It’s not a pity to go down to the subway and get to the most remarkable interiors: at the Uzbekistan station, there are cotton shades, at Chilanzar there are colored ceramic inserts about the work of the Uzbek people, at Cosmonavtlar station you should pay attention to the columns, at Mustakillik Maidoni – to throw back his head to examine the national ornaments on the ceiling, and to Alisher Navoi – take the escalator to admire the huge geometric panel.
Olga Kazakova, historian of architecture
Of interest is the Lenin Museum, designed by Evgeny Rozanov (after 1991, the Museum of the History of Uzbekistan). The main motif of the façade is a panjar enlarged to a gigantic size – a patterned sun screen. Then this motif was used in the architecture of Uzbekistan, as they say, in the tail and mane.
You can visit the cafe "Blue Domes" on the former Lenin Boulevard – now it is a restaurant, and in Soviet times – popular teahouse. At one time, she was scolded for too pronounced orientalism, but against the background of modern Uzbek architecture, the pavilion does not seem like that.
Another interesting object – the Palace of Arts, also the authorship of Rozanov, is a giant "chest" with crazy in a good way interiors designed by Elena Sukhanova. The circus is still good, and the really worthy architecture of the exhibition hall of the Union of Artists of Uzbekistan – in this building, perhaps, the most organically combined local architectural traditions and modern materials.
Mosaics and ornaments everywhere
To see an unusual mosaic on the wall of a typical nine-story building – for Tashkent The usual thing. In the 70s, brothers came to Tashkent in an effort to restore the ruined city and make the monotonous unique. Peter, Alexander and Nikolai Zharsky – for thirty years, artists have created about 200 mosaics on the walls of buildings. Eastern patterns, equality and fraternity, Russian fairy tales, Soviet propaganda and space were used. And sometimes all together. There are no such combinations of plots, ornaments and details anywhere else. For example, a triptych at the ends nine-story building – a series of panels on the theme of space exploration, where athletic figures in spacesuits are intertwined with zodiac signs and oriental ornaments.
What to watch:
"Tenderness" and "Lovers"
Romantic shorts about Tashkent of the sixties
TV tower and pilaf center
All that is in every television tower – the highest observation deck, where you can collect a map of the city in pieces, a revolving restaurant with interiors of the USSR and a strict access control – is in Tashkent. The tower is 11th in the world in height. But buying a ticket here is worth at least to look at the panel in the lobby – it is made of marble, metal and semi-precious stones like Florentine mosaics.
Three minutes walk the best place for lunch is the Center for pilaf. Pilaf is prepared right at the entrance, on the street, in huge cauldrons. Inside – a hall for several hundred people (there is a calmer second floor) – closer to lunch, the whole space is filled with the buzz of visitors and a conveyor of white and blue plates. The menu has three types of pilaf: wedding, special and teahouse, all with kazy (horse sausage) and quail eggs. (And, if it seems that a small portion is not enough, it just seems). In the set of a true connoisseur, Pepsi, achuchuk (salad of tomatoes and onions) and suzma (something like yogurt) are always attached to pilaf.
If you had to choose one place that is definitely worth seeing in Tashkent, it would be the market "Chorsu". Huge bazaar (translated – "Four roads"), which existed 500 years ago, an open-air museum, the best way to get authentic gastronomic impressions. Chorsu is a monumental blue dome without a single support, which is a pleasure to admire under the bazaar noise. You can admire the slides of colorful spices, and the ornaments of bowls for every taste, and you can also bargain and try – chocolate persimmon, kurt (balls of cottage cheese), mountain tea.
The Gluttonous Row is an eastern food court rooted in the Great Silk Road. Behind each counter, their owner or mistress – pilaf, Naryn, fried fish, barbecue and street food with lamb giblets are prepared right here. Half an hour spent eating at unpretentious oilcloth tables, simple appliances, always with a tortilla and sweet green tea – one of the most accurate material equivalents to the notorious national color.
Saodat Ismailova, video artist, director
For me, Tashkent is primarily the old city – Eski Shahar, where you can still walk along the narrow streets, greeting children and old people. In the same part of the city is the central market "Chorsu" with all kinds of spices, dried fruits, tortillas, as well as a variety of persons from all regions of the country. The people as they are! On the Chorsu The impressive dome architecture created in the early 1980s. In the same part of the city there are two cemeteries: one of the oldest – Kukcha with the burial of Sheikh Zaynitdin and his underground Chillahona (cell for meditation) and the Chagatai cemetery with a department of communist figures and artists of the Soviet period. Marble busts defile in geometric order among well-groomed cypresses and oaks. It seems to me that the market and cemeteries have always represented the key plexuses of any city.
In the summer, when the street is 40 degrees hot, I like to go down to the Tashkent metro; it can be deserted and cool. Sit at the Cosmonauts metro station"leaning on cold columns covered with glass, symbolizing a stream of gas when a rocket takes off, – and you can again get out in the heat.
Ancient settlement "Ming Urik"
The remains of an ancient settlement with a very poetic name ("A Thousand Apricot Trees") in the center of a modern city. It is believed that thanks to this place, it was possible to establish the exact age of Tashkent – two thousand two hundred years. It is better to hope for a good imagination, then in the middle of archaeological ruins you can imagine the once existing citadel fortress and Shahristan – the city itself with a palace, rich houses, craft workshops and a cult of worship of the sun.
Rustam Khusanov, guide, local historian
One of the components of the character of the city, its spirit is Tashkent courtyards. Tashkent residents almost didn’t know communal apartments, and friendly yards inhabited by people of different nationalities and religions – local, visitors, evacuated, fleeing hunger, from war, from repression or repression, – They know or remember very well.
This touching feature of Tashkent was reflected in Dina Rubina’s warmest novel “On the sunny side of the street”, and good guides include such courtyards in their city routes, lead into the porches, and it is clear that they themselves love it very much.
What to read:
The novel is a declaration of love to Soviet Tashkent, in which author's nostalgia exists in parallel with the life of heroes
“Sixty-five years have passed, and these pictures are before my eyes, like yesterday … And in general, how many are left behind – Saratov, Moscow, dozens of cities … Now and to the end already – Marburg, and I still only have to закрыть глаза, так ясно представляю себе эту улочку, по которой мы с мамой идем, — высоченные кроны чинар сплетаются над головою в зеленый солнечный тоннель…»
Бесконечная вязь тонких линий орнаментов, торжество каллиграфии и геометричное совершенство восточных интерьеров. Дом был перестроен в XIX веке по заказу русского дипломата и большого ценителя подобной архитектуры Александра Половцева. В экспозиции современного Музея прикладного искусства главное, конечно, сами стены и потолки. Но есть и тысячи экспонатов — картины, ткани, керамика, фарфор, золотое шитье. Отдельное удовольствие — внутренний дворик музея с одним из первых фонтанов Ташкента, нависающими плакучими ивами и видом на изразцы веранды.
Мощный пласт культуры, не зависящей от установок любых государственных учреждений. Первый независимый театр в советском Узбекистане создал режиссер Марк Вайль в 1976 году. «Ильхом» пережил перестройку, диктатуру новой страны и трагическую смерть своего основателя. Сегодня в репертуаре этого культового места как классика, так и дебюты современных драматургов, а в общем – талантливая и выдержанная импровизация всегда.
Напротив «Ильхома» находится одно из самых красивых зданий Ташкента — панорамный кинотеатр. Революционный по меркам СССР шедевр выжил при землетрясении, и сегодня это легковесная и невероятно эстетичная конструкция существует вне времени. Фредерик Шобен, показавший миру, за что ценить советский модернизм, включил здание кинопанорамы в подборку примечательных объектов бывших союзных республик.
Одил Мухамедов, создатель проекта Men of Culture
Постоянно возвращаюсь в театр Марка Вайля «Ильхом». Возвращаюсь не только из-за смелых, суперактуальных и очень красивых спектаклей, которые хочется пересматривать и постоянно находить для себя что-то новое, но и из-за уникальной атмосферы, которая там царит. «Ильхом» давно вышел за рамки классического представления о театре, здесь регулярно проходят фестивали, концерты, выставки, кинопоказы, мастер-классы, лекции и многое другое.
После особенного культурного опыта, который обычно там получаешь, хочется прогуляться и поразмышлять об увиденном. Выйдя из театра, можно пройтись по центральной улице города, заглянув сначала на площадь Памяти, а потом попасть к монументу «Мужество» – моему любимому памятнику в Ташкенте.
Музей истории Узбекистана, Дворец дружбы народов, выставочный зал Союза художников, цирк, гостиница «Узбекистан» обязательны к просмотру для завершения списка экспериментальной архитектуры 70-х с южной прививкой.
Ташкент — это еще и город советской эвакуации, в котором Анна Ахматова, Елена Булгакова, Марина Цветаева пытались свыкнуться с новой реальностью. Можно прогуляться по дворам, которые помнят встречи, бедность и быт ленинградской интеллигенции.
Плюс сухая и мягкая погода, невероятно много солнца и зелени (на каждом шагу), недорогая, очень простая и очень вкусная еда (не только узбекская, но и, например. корейская), горы с водохранилищами, лыжными склонами зимой и пляжами летом в получасе езды от города, расцветающая культура баров и фестивалей — это город, который еще точно даст повод, чтобы узнать его получше.
Котик «Афиши Daily» присылает ровно одну хорошую новость в день. Его всегда можно прогнать и отписаться.
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