Tashkent is situated on the height of 440-480 meters high above sea level, on the 41o20’ north width, 69o10’ eastern length. The city is situated in the north-eastern part of the republic of Uzbekistan, in Tashkent valley, in the valley of Chirchik river. The north-eastern and eastern part of the valley is surrounded by Qorajantov and Chotqol ranges, divided into Chotqol valley. Qorajantov range is situated on the right bank, having the height of 2824 meters (Mingbuloq). On the left bank there are mountain massive, the highest (3321 meters) area of Chimyon valley is situated. The relief of front part of Tashkent is mostly hilly area. This area is considered to be an active tectonic. The highest part of front part Tashkent is Chatqal range (3321 meters), and the lowest point is in south-west 300 meters.
Tashkent’s square is 300 sq. kilometers. The climate is warm, relevant dry. The medium temperature in January is — 11 degrees C, the duration of winter is 40 days. The medium temperature is +30.2 degrees C, per year rainfall is 360-390 mms.
The city population is approximately 2.7 million people, making more than 100 nationalities. As for population number the city ranks 4th place among CIS countries (After Moscow, Saint-Petersburg and Kiev) and the 1st in Central Asia.
Tashkent is divided into 11 districts, they are: Bektemir, Mirzo Ulughbek, Mirobod, Sirghali, Sobir Rahimov, Chilonzor, Shaykhontohur, Yunusobod, Yakkasaroy, Hamza, Uchtepa districts. The city consists of 465 mahallas.
The history of Tashkent starts in the Chirchik river valley. In his book, Babur referred to the river as “Chir-suy”, hence Chirchik can be pronounced as Sir-chik (the suffix “chik” means small), which is small Sir – “small river”.
According to the opinion of archeologists, it was the first capital of Kanka, the remains of which was discovered in the shape of a square citadel built between fifth and third centuries BC, eight kilometers from Sirdarya. By the seventh century AD, after the reign of the Saks, Sassanians and Heftalites, prominence passed to the fertile Chirchik valley with the focus on trade between Sogdian traders and Turkic nomads. Over 50 irrigation canals fed more than 30 towns as Chach blossomed into an exporter of cattle, horses, gold, silver and precious stones. The remains of the seventh century fortress of the rulers were found at “Mingurik”(“Thousand apricot trees” — in uzbek), now in the Chilonzor district of Tashkent.
Tashkent’s earliest birthplace was the settlement “Mingurik”(“Thousand apricot trees” — in Uzbek), in the II cc or Icc BC. Towards the first centuries of BC more than half of the valley along Chirchiq, Salor, and Qorasuv were modified for agriculture. The city was situated on the bank of the Salor, at that time had a dominant position and historians were right in referring to it as the foundation of future Tashkent. The city really developed in VI-VIII centuries. The city was the entrance to the Turkish kaghanat. Its position near the mineral deposits of the Qoramozor mountains and to the desert areas populated by nomadic tribes who were always producing craft work, and also being on the main caravan route, as part of the Great Silk Road from the northern part of the valley, made it the natural capital of Chach valley. According to historical archives, the area of the town was 4 square kilometers, inside there was a Palace, an ark with temple, shakhristan with the houses of respected people and communities of craftsmen. Around the city there ere the vast plantations of free land farmers, villagers and castles of rich land owners of the early feudal period. A type of fortification was built on the borders of the cultivated lands neighboring the nomadic tribes. These areas described above were in the present day location of Tashkent.
From Arabic sources this city had been called “Madinat-ash-Shash” – “the capital of Chach”. The crafsmen of Chach’s capital manufactured metalwork, tools, weapons and decorative medals,sewed fabrics from cotton and wool, produced ceramic and glassware, made jewellery, and sold them in the inner and outer bazaars.
The city was a meeting point for trade. Coins, which had been made in town stretching from western Constantinople to eastern China, were found in the territory of Tashkent giving testimony to that. Chach’s khakim (ruler) also minted his own coins. There was a mint in Chach and in IV-VIII centuries silver coins were minted here. The rulers of ancient Chach minted coins with the images of big landowners and on the back the images of lions, leopards with curled tails or with the marks of the dynasties. Among the coins minted in this period in Tashkent there were some which had the images of a prince and princess standing together. Undoubtedly, it shows that in early middle centuries, Chach females had some socio-economic and political status. Simultaneously with trade and craft the culture had also developed. According to sources the art of painting and music were especially advanced. In the time of Turkic khakan, Chach had its own language and culture. The Chach language had been considered to be the state language, coins had inscriptions with names and titles of khakims such as Artachaka, Shchaniabagha, Tarnovcha… and official documents were compiled in this language. Chach was the centre of this deities (The farmers goddess, zaroastrian goddess, worshipping ancestors), the temples of Christianity and of Zaroastrians. Burial ceremonies were done according to fire-worshipping traditions. It was a kind of skillful art to make ossuaries decorated with human faces and bird’s heads.
Thus, by the time the Arabs occupied Chach in 713 BC it was the crossroad of the caravans in the Great Silk Road. According to Arabic historian at-Tabariy, a contingent of 20 000 men of Arabic army attacked Tashkent and they returned with large spoils of war. But this attack was a kind of robbery and did not bring the full subservience to the Arabs. However, the Arabs later took Chach cities, including the capital of Chach vilayet (region). Madinat-ash-Shash was ruined by them and it was set on the fire. The city was completely destroyed and couldn’t recover for a long time. Only in IX century a new town was founded 4-5 kilometers to the northwest from its former place, on the bank of the Bozsu river, becoming the capital of Chach valley and from Arabic sources it was known as “Binkat”. This city developed as the city of craftsmen and trade. In order to defend itself from nomadic attack, Arabians built a wall along the northwest borders of the Chirchik valley as far as the Syrdarya. Its ruins were preserved under the name of Kampirdevor.
Under the Samanid rule in IX century, the capital became known as Binkath, (Arab pronunciation made Chach as Shash ) and inside the city Islamic mosques were built. Merchants rested their caravans here after the long journey from China through the deserts and mountains, before continuing further on the road to Samarqand and Bukhara. Arab visitors described this as a fertile place of vineyards, bazaars and craftsmen in the Chach valley.
The early city planning
As the documented sources and archeological discoveries reveal, the area of Binkath city consisted of three of Tashkent’s four dahas (distcricts) as Sebzor, Kukcha and Beshyoghoch dahas and it was divided into four parts each surrounded separately by thick walls: Ark (Urda), Shakhristan (main part of the town), inner and outer rabads. Documents showed the inner rabad had been called rabodi-dokhil (inner rabid, Persian), and the outer rabad (rabodi khorij — outer). The length and the breadth of the city were of equal length – 6-7 kilometers. The ark and Shakhristan parts of the city, which were considered to be the center, had been situated in the present Tashkent’s Zarqaynar and Navoi streets and in area between Chorsu and Old Juva. The Ark was one hectare in size and Shakhristan as 15 hectares.
The palace of the city khakim, prison and mint had been situated inside the Ark as well as the cathedral mosque. The mahallas of craftsmen, residents of emirs, the big houses of feudal landowners and the bazaar were in Shakhristan and in the inner and outer rabads. Karakhanid rule from the late tenth century, allowed the city to strengthen, and flourish and the city was renamed with the Turkish name of Tashkent “Stone settlement”. The origin of the name was confirmed by Beruniy, the famous Central Asian scientist, writing in his book “Hindustan” about the name “Tashkent” where he says that the word “tosh stone” is Turkic. So, it took the name “Toshkent” (In Turkish “Stony village”) in about the 11th century.
In 1214-15 Muhammad Khorazmshoh fought against the troops of Karakitays and Nayman (the tribal names) king Kuchlukkhan and took Tashkent vilayet from them. In order not to give the population of vilayet into the hands of enemies, he first released the people and then set fire to the city. In 1220 the Mongols took the city without much resistance and the city was destroyed by them. Until the first half of XIII-XIV centuries Tashkent vilayet was a part of Chighatoy ulus (Ulus – are occupied provinces which are distributed among sons of Chengiskhan). During the Mongol reign, the importance of Tashkent ranked in one of the last places.
HISTORY IN XX CENTURY
Arrival of Tran-Caspian railway in Tashkent in 1889 was a big event in the life of the city, the Russian workers on Railway were on a leading position in the Revolution of 1917. They and the Uzbek workers, who learned the basis of Marxism-Leninism in secret clubs of the city formed the basis of the Communist revolution of 1917. At this time Tashkent became one of the revolutionary centers and kept this prestige until 14 of November 1917. With the organization of the Workers and Soldiers Soviet the Soviet Government was established in Tashkent. In 1919 Osipov’s treachery against the Soviets was suppressed and Bolshevik reprisals made this city bloody place during the Russian Civil war.
Tashkent became the capital of the Turkistan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic and later became the center of the battle for war against those who did not accept the Bolshevik regime. Tashkent’s efforts in this war were highly appreciated by Moscow authorities and it was awarded with the Red Flag order in 1924. The capital of the new Uzbek Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was Samarqand until 1930 then the status of the capital moved to Tashkent. The city’s industrial potential was powered by the construction of the agricultural machinery combine “Tashselmash”, and the first University in Central Asia was established in 1920 also in Tashkent. Until the World War II on the basis of this University 16 high schools were organized. It was a big necessity for Tashkent to have new residential areas as the new industrial zones were developing in the city. In 1939 the territory of Tashkent was 90 sq.kilometers with 550 000 population.
The important task faced Tashkent’s industry by the start of WWII. The main parts of local industry and craft workshops were quickly requisitioned for manufacturing clothing for Red Army. In 1941in Tashkent there were 137 active factories and 64 of them were producing military goods, heavy industry produced 60% and the leading position in the economy was achieved by machinery manufacture and the steel industry. Tashkent received nearly 300 000 deported people and 100 000 orphan children of Great Patriotic War. Tashkent people heroically fought on the war fronts and 13 persons from the city were awarded the high title of the Hero of the Soviet Union, monuments, streets and squares are named after them.
After the War the city’s territory widened, making 130 sq.kilometers and from 1947 trolleybuses began operating in the city streets.
The earthquake in 26 April of 1966 caused extensive damage to industrial plants, cultural, medical, educational offices and more than 300 000 people were rendered homeless. With the help of fraternal republics in 3,5 years Tashkent was fully restored. In a short space of time, new districts, monuments and public buildings were built.
Today’s Tashkent is the political center of independent Uzbekistan. The residence of Uzbekistan’s President, Parliament and the Uzbekistan Council of Ministers are situated here. Its territory is 256 sq. kilometers, with its 2,7 million population of more than hundred nationalities Tashkent ranks in the fourth place after Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev in CIS. Tashkent is the biggest transport chain of Central Asia with its 2 international airports, 2 railway terminals and 6 intercity bus terminals. From the city several important automobile roads start, and the main one in Big Uzbek Tract. The public transport in the city is carried out through metro, trolleybus, tram ways and the buses. The capital of Uzbekistan rightly known as the city of peace, friendship and fraternity. International symposiums dedicated to problems of social development, science, techniques, culture and art traditionally held here. In 1958 the first conference of the writers of Asian and African countries took place in Tashkent. This conference founded the movement of strengthening the cooperation of Asian and African writers, and the term of “Tashkent spirit”, the term of mutual understanding for the sake of peace and mankind’s happiness.
In 1966 Tashkent recorded one more historical chance for peace, the leaders of Pakistan and India met and signed a Peace Treaty here. Tashkent established friendship ties with many cities of the world, among them are: Tunis, Patiala, Caroche, Tripoli, Marrakech, Skopje, Seattle, Maputo and Urumchi. These cities are twin cities with Tashkent and Tashkent is the member of World Twin Cities Federation. In 1983 under the decision of UNESCO 2000 years anniversary of Tashkent was widely celebrated. For Tashkent’s prominent activity in the international peace year of 1989, UN decided to award Tashkent with the honorable title of “Peace Ambassador”. Finally, in 2007 Tashkent was given the title of “The capital of Islamic culture”.
In the old times a fortress wall and some city gates were opened at particular times and other days, closed in the cities. When entering the city a little amount of money had to be paid (a kind of present day entrance visa!)In the center of Asian cities there was a square and in many Uzbek cities it carries the name of Chor-su. In the square the khan’s decrees were read aloud, the kaziy’s (judge’s) decisions regarding defaulters were executed, festivals were held and of course people traded. Streets leading to the city gates stemmed from the square. Between the streets there were real labyrinths of small and narrow streets with numerous alleyways and blind alleys.
This way dahas were formed between the big streets. In each daha there was a separate kaziy (judje) and one mingboshi (a thousand’s). The daha was divided into mahalla blocks and guzars (In Khiva they are called ilyat). The mahalla seniors “aksakals” were at the head of these dahas. Thus mahalla is a smallest administrative unit.
Tashkent was divided into 4 dahas: Beshyoghoch, Kukcha, Sebzar and Sheykhantaur. These names can still be found on the city map. The number of mahallas constantly changed, Thus in the middle of 19th century there were 48 mahallas in Shaykhontohur, 38 in Sebzar, 32 in Beshyoghoch, 31 in Kukcha. Mahallas differed also by their size and the number of houses and properties. For example, Oqmasjid (White house) mahalla in Shaykhontohur numbered over 400 houses, mahalla Chuvalachi in Sebzar over 100 houses, mahalla Samarqand darvoza in Beshyoghoch 50 houses. As time goes by each mahalla expands and divides into two or more smaller mahallas. During this constant process it was not always possible to preserve the industrial character. Even if rarely, the youth choose their spouses from mahallas whose inhabitants were engaged in other handicraft. Historically one more type of mahalla as established on the basis of nationality. Starting from 2-3 families they grow into quite large ones. In the course of time in many cities of Uzbekistan, mahallas based on the nationalities: Tajik, Iranian, Jewish and many others were formed.