Liberal Arts Blog — Tashkent — Silk Road Hub, Sogdia, Soviet Mass Deportations, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Liberal Arts Blog — Sunday is the Joy of Humor, Food, Travel, Practical Life Tips, and Miscellaneous Day

Today’s Topic — Tashkent — Silk Road Hub, Sogdia, Soviet Mass Deportations, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Last week, Samarkand. Two weeks ago, Isfahan. Next week, Bukhara. Today some notes on another city with a storied past. Tashkent was the fourth largest city in the Soviet Union — after Moscow, Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), and Kiev. It is now the largest city (population: 2.3 MM) and the capital of Uzbekistan. Destroyed by Genghis Khan in 1219, it has a long history of being conquered and rising from the ashes. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was an independent nation-state. Under Stalin, it was the destination for many forced deportations. The population is now 60% Uzbek and 20% Russian. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.


  1. Almaty, capital of Kazakhstan — 1. 7 MM. Country population: 19 MM

2. Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 1.0 MM: 6,0 MM

3. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 937,000: 6.5 MM

NB: Uzbekistan’s population is 33.5 MM. Tashkent is located in the northeast on a neck of land, less than 10 miles from the Kazakhstan border and not that far from Tajikstan and Kyrgyzstan. The hub of Central Asia.


1, Before the Islamic conquest of the 8th century, Tashkent, then known as Chach, was a center of trade for Sogdian and Turkic nomads.

2. Sogdia (or Sogdiana) was an ancient Iranian civilization celebrated in Zoroastrian literature as the “second best land” in the world. It was famously conquered by Alexander the Great in 328 BC.

3. After the Mongols razed the city in 1219, Tashkent slowly recovered and by 1809 had a population of roughly 100,000 and was considered the wealthiest city of Central Asia.

NB: the Mukeldrash Madrasah (above) was originally built in 1570 as an Islamic school. Destroyed and re-built several times, it became a road side inn (or “carvanserai”) in the 18th century, then a fortress, then, under Soviet rule, first a museum of atheism and then of folk music. In the 1990s it became a madrasah once more.


1. Above is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral of Tashkent. Who was Alexander Nevsky and why are there so many cathedrals dedicated to him from Bulgaria to Estonia, and Poland?

2. He was the savior of Russia and Russian orthodoxy from Swedish and German invaders during his reign as Prince of Novgorod, Grand Prince of Kiev, and Prince of Vladimir in the 13th century.

3. He has been voted “the greatest Russian” and the “main hero of Russian history” in several polls. Who knew? Not me, until I researched this post. Collateral benefit of poking around Central Asia.

NB: Nevsky was the subject of a film by Sergei Eisenstein (1938) which celebrated Nevsky’s victory over the Teutonic Knights (note the timing of the film — one year before the Nazi-Soviet Pact and the Nazi-Soviet division of Poland, three years before the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union). Sergei Prokofiev composed the soundtrack to the film.



Kukeldash Madrasah (Tashkent)

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Alexander Nevsky


So what’s the funniest clip you have seen recently? Or ever? Favorite joke? When did you laugh the hardest and why? Anything miscellaneous to share from anywhere? Best trip you ever took in your life? Favorite foods? Practical life tips? Random facts?

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your mind a memory that might otherwise disappear. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.