Central Asia is known for being treasury of ancient cultures that mixed and evolved influencing each other due to the Great Silk Road. This famous trade web connected ancient cities like Samarkand, Bukhara, Tashkent, Urgench, Merv, and Istarvashan. Istarvashan is one of the most ancient cities in Central Asia. It’s more than 2,500 years old! What used to be the center of arts and crafts of antiquity is a museum under the open skies today.
This historical city is located in the north of Tajikistan, in Sughd Province. The city was founded in the 6th century BC by King Cyrus who was the ruler of Achaeminid Empire. The King named the city after himself – Cyropolis. In 4th century BC, when Alexander the Great was conquering Central Asia, Cyropolis was a large and well-fortified town. The citizens of the city showed resistance to armies of the great conqueror. The ruler of Macedon got his very first injury during the siege of Cyropolis. Later, the city was ruined because of frequent rebellions. The surroundings of the historical city served as residence for the nobility of Mugteppa. Rich families built many castles with unique architecture. They were adorned with engravings and carved panels. Period of rapid development of Istarvashan was under the rule of the Samanids. Many mosques, mausoleums, and madrassahs were built during that period. In 13th century, the city was destroyed by the Mongols, but was brought back to life in 15th century, when Timurid Empire was forming. That is when the city was named Ura-Tyube.
Due to rich history, this historical city has some interesting monuments. Madrassah Kok-Gumbas that was built in 15th century stands out with it sky-colored cupola. The name is very straightforward; it translates as “Blue cupola”. Other interesting historical buildings are Hazrati Shoh Mosque,Savriston Mosque, and Chor-Gumbaz Mausoleum.