Visiting the metro stations in Tashkent was one of our favourite things to do in the capital of Uzbekistan. Well, that and a visit to the Plov centre *drools*.
We started our exploration of the Tashkent Metro at the Olmazor station. It happened to be the closest to our hotel - Hotel Hon Saroy & our lunch place for the day - Do'mbrobod Osh - where we gorged on some yummy plov.
As soon as we landed in Tashkent from Nukus, we dropped our bags off at the hotel, had a hurried lunch and set off to explore the magical underground world that is the Tashkent Metro. All details below -
We bought the tokens to ride the metro at the ticket counter. Look for counters with the word 'Kassa' on them. The metro is functional between 5 AM and 11:30 PM on all days of the week.
The fares are standard regardless of your destination station. You can travel north-south-east-west, zig-zag across the red-blue-green lines (as long as you do not exit any of the stations), for a mere 1200 Uzbek soum per person ($0.15/₹11). Unbelievably economical!
The Tashkent Metro has an interesting history. The construction had begun in 1972, six years after the city was hit by a massive earthquake in 1966. One of the first metro lines was opened to the public in 1977. The Soviets built the metro line not only keeping in mind the commuting needs of the public of Tashkent, but also used it as a bomb shelter. While switching lines or towards exit ways of stations, you will notice large steel doors, which actually lead to bomb shelters where soldiers and civilians could hide.
Today, there are three fully functional metro lines stretching across a distance of 36.2 km (22.5 miles) with a fourth line underway. They are the Chilonzor red line, Uzbekistan blue line and Yunusabad green line. Below is the route map -
Up until May 2018, photography was prohibited inside the stations for military reasons. The ban on photography was lifted and we're so glad that it was - the stations make for excellent phot-ops.
Each of the metro stations in Tashkent has a unique theme and architectural design. The interiors are made using materials such as metal (for murals and engravings), granite, ceramics etc.
Our plan was to hop off at each metro station and admire its uniqueness. We managed to cover 21 stations, out of a total of 29 over the course of 2 days and would have covered them all had I not been unwell.
While we loved all 21, here are 10 of our favourite Tashkent metro stations in sequential order -
Located on the Red line and one of the first to be built, this station named after one of the districts in Tashkent cannot be missed.
There are majestic, circular chandeliers hanging from the ceiling of the main hall. It gives you the feeling of being in a royal ball room (I could hear the string quartet play in my head as I walked around the station!).
Not to miss the beautiful wall art which we assume depicts the locals and their daily lives.
This station located on the Blue line is named after one of the most influential Uzbek poets. The two things that stand out in this station are the turquoise blue granite columns and the colourful ceramic wall art.
The wall art constitutes a series of abstract images which we assume is related to the works of Gafur Gulom.
This station located on the Green line, has a very futuristic feel to it.
The most noticeable structure is the tall, mushroom-like lights in the centre of the main hall. The ceiling is white with blue star-shaped patterns which house circular ceramic tiles inside them. The seats resemble several dice arranged in a circular pattern around the mushroom lights.
Located on the Red line, this means 'cotton-picker' in Uzbek. It is very hard to miss the blue, white and gold art splashed all over the walls of the main hall of the station.
The artwork on the walls depicts freshly puffed cotton flowers. Uzbekistan has one of the largest cotton industries in the world and cotton accounts for 17% of the country's exports. Cotton is nicknamed 'white gold' in Uzbekistan.
From Paktakhor, you can switch to the Blue line via an underpass to the Alisher Navoi station.
Named after an influential 15th century Uzbek poet, this is one of the busiest stations on the Blue line.
Alisher Navoi is highly revered by the Uzbeks. Every city/town in Uzbekistan has a public park set up in his name.
The ceiling of the station domes are made to look like the mosques and madrassahs of Uzbekistan with their characteristic blue hue and intricate gold designs.
The wall art in the main hall of the station has blue ceramic tiles depicting themes from some of the poet's works. The one below seems from a popular romantic poem titled 'Layla and Majnun'.
If you're intending to do the 'hop-on, hop-off' exploration of the Tashkent Metro like we did, you will definitely not miss this station.
This station is located on the 'Green line' and links to its red line counterpart, Amir Temur station. This station has been named after and dedicated to one of the most famous Uzebk musicians and composers. Yunus Rajabiy had considered his life's main goal to study and propagate the Shashmaqam music form to the rest of Uzbekistan (it was restricted only to Samarkand and Bukhara in the early 1900s). This music form later traveled to the West through the Bukharian Jews of Central Asia.
The station has white marble pillars that support massive crown-shaped lights. There is an impressive staircase in the centre of the main hall which gives you the feeling of being in a royal palace.
Located on the 'Red line', the characteristic feature of this station are its ceiling lights which are hexagonal and arranged in honeycomb patterns along the entire length of the main hall ceiling.
The station was previously named 'Hamza' after Hamza Niyazi who was a famous Uzbek poet and playwright. The name was switched to 'Novza' in 2015 and was met with opposition from the public.
First, because the change happened overnight and without any prior notice. Commuters were confused and missed their stop due to the 'wrong' name being announced. Second, they also felt that the revolutionary poet was being stripped off the respect that was due to him.
The name of this station translates to 'Independence Square' and it is located on the Red line between the Pakhtakor and Amir Temur stations.
The station is directly below the Independence Square of Tashkent which was previously named 'Lenin square' while under the Soviet rule until 1991. The statue of Lenin that stood on the square was dismantled in 1992 and was replaced by a golden globe that symbolized the 'Monument of Independence of Uzbekistan'.
The first thought that comes to your mind when you see the station is - 'Oh, so white!'. The walls of the station have really shiny surfaces that glisten. The pillars that support the station are made with really whiiite marble. In between the pillars are really white, huge chandeliers that hang from the ceiling (also painted white!) This is what heaven must look like.
This is the one of the most unique metro stations in Tashkent. After all, it is rare that you come across a metro station that is designed to replicate the Milky Way galaxy!
The penultimate station on the 'Blue line', it has a characteristic black and blue theme that depicts the earth's atmosphere. The ceiling has white lights with glass dangling from them, supposedly to give you the feeling of gazing up at the Milky Way on a clear night.
The station honours the Soviet cosmonauts and their contribution to space exploration during the Soviet era. The wall has round ceramic murals of Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman in space), Yuri Gagarin (the world's first cosmonaut) among others.
There is also a mural with Mirzo Ulughbek, former sultan of the Timurid empire and a renowned Uzbek astronomer and mathematician during the 15th century.
We were not planning on alighting at this station as we were very tired. However, when we passed it by, the Harry Potter fans in both of us were vigorously shaken awake and we just simply had to explore the station!
Named after Alexander Pushkin, a famous Russian poet and playwright, this station is the penultimate one on the Red line.
The fluorescent yellow lighting gives you the feeling of being inside the Great Hall and corridors of Hogwarts. Enough said for this to be listed as our most favourite Tashkent metro station.
This was our list of 10-must visit Tashkent metro stations. Given the chance to do this again, we would, in a heartbeat.
Reading about the stories behind these stations and the way they are designed makes you realise how vast and diverse cultures around the world are and how much more there is left to see and explore! If you enjoy this kind of exploring, we recommend setting aside one whole day in Tashkent for this.
Let us know which ones were your favourites. We agree that it is difficult to pick favourites but let us know anyway!