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Khujand is the northern capital of Tajikistan and the second largest city in the country. The city's history dates back to ancient times. In the opinion of historians legendary city of Alexander-Eskhata (Alexandria Extreme) was constructed by Alexander the Great on the place of the present Khujand (the 5th century BC) and become the city of highly developed culture, important commercial and crafts center. It in many respects speaks it can be explained by its favorable position. Khujand stands at the entrance to the fertile Fergana Valley. Owing to this it was one of the main centers of the Great Silk Road and enjoyed prosperity and richness. One of the ancient cities of the Central Asia Khujand has been known since the 7th century. In the 19th century after the Russian intrusion Khujand became the center of district of rapid industrial development. The railway was built there which allowed the city to become the center of cultural life. From there came many known representatives of Tajik intelligentsia. The city has large enterprises, universities, cultural establishments.
One of the most ancient cities, existing till V - VI BC. Alexander the Great had been based one of its Alekandriy-Eskhata (Extreme) in Khujand after a gain. Being on a favourable geographical site at a crossroads of trading ways, city prospered and grew rich all time, despite constant attacks of aggressors.
At present, the city is the centre of Soughd area. It is a cosy and green city, with set of parks and squares, architectural monuments and modern buildings. In city centre there is a well-known market Panjshanbe, earlier these days here was arranged the market where it is possible to buy all from fruit and vegetables to clothes and footwear. Near to a market there is an architectural ensemble a mosque and the mausoleum of Sheikh Muslihiddin XI - XII centuries which on a legend was the miracle man.
In northern part of a city near to theater of Kamoli Khujandi, there is a Khujand fortress VII - VIII centuries from which at present there is only a part.
In east part of a city the Kayrakkum water basin, on coast of it considerable quantity of sanatoria, rest houses and restaurants are constructed which involves tourists during the summer period.
Khujand, also transliterated as Khudzhand, Khudjand, Khojand or Khodjent, was known until 1939 as Khujend; until 1992 as Leninabad (Leninobod), is the second largest city of Tajikistan. It is situated on both sides of the Syr Darya River at the mouth of the Fergana Valley. The population of the city is about 200,000, up from 160,000 in 1989. It is also the capital of the northernmost province of Tajikistan, now called Sughd. It sits at a strategic location at the narrow western end of the Fergana Valley, almost totally surrounded by Uzbekistan. It is connected to Tajikistan proper via the Khujand-Dushanbe highway, currently a precarious, high altitude mountain route which is operating even in winter; a complete reconstruction of the route, as well as several new tunnels (by Chinese and Iranian companies) was completed in 2013.
After completion of road and tunnel construction transportation difficulties has been removed. Khujand represents one of the most important areas of Tajikistan, with its rare fertile agricultural lands, irrigated by the Syr-Darya River, and location near the industrial centers of Uzbekistan. Major industries include Silk production, clothing and footwear manufacturing, and food processing. It has a long, colorful history as well, being at one time under the rule of Persian, Arab, Mongol and other empires; it was once the farthest northern city of Alexander the Great's empire, and was part of the Khanate of Kokand before being annexed by the Russian Empire in 1868. Unfortunately, most of these successive invaders demolished the city, and as a result few ancient treasures remain. After the Bolshevik revolution, the city was given to Uzbekistan for a time, and in 1929 it was made part of the new Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic.
Khujand has a very unique culture, especially within Tajikistan. The visitor will notice upon arrival not only the high level of development of the city, but the relatively large Russian and Uzbek speaking population, far exceeding that of Dushanbe. Rarely here will you see women in traditional dress or men with long beards, and having a drink in the park is not frowned upon. The city's architecture and look has virtually not changed since Soviet days, making a trip to Khujand something of a trip back in time. Most of the Soviet-era buildings have, however, been renovated, and the city's parks and roads are also very well maintained. Despite being the second-largest city, it has a surprisingly relaxing, small-town feel, and its many lush parks and tree-lined boulevards make for a pleasant stay in the center. On hot summer days, the shady parks are full of families eating shashlik(sih kabob) and relaxing, and Tajik folk music concerts are often provided for entertainment. The real life of the city is the wide Syr-Darya River. Along the riverbanks and from bridges teenagers and children can be seen cooling off in the slow-moving water. A fast ride on one of the boats which provide transportation along the river is a great, refreshing way to see the city; high quality restaurants and cafes line the riverbanks in the center. In addition, most of the finest hotels overlook the river and mountains.
Many monuments can be found in Khujand, the best is represented by the medieval citadel, parts of which have been reconstructed, with large round towers. It is located close to the river, along an alley 200 m west of the bridge (behind hotel "Leninobod"). The nearby Museum of Regional Studies displays artifacts discovered during the decades-long excavations here, including artifacts such as weapons, construction materials, household items and farming tools dating to the time of Alexander the Great. An old mosque is also located near the fort. Fans of everything Soviet will enjoy the largest statue of Lenin in Central Asia, on a 18 microdistrict along the main road near the river.
Weather in Khujand is continental, with long, hot and dry summers (to 45C) and short, cold and dry winters (to -25C), similar to other Fergana Valley locations. Rainfall occurs mostly in spring and fall, and snow in the winter is rare.
The Mausoleum of Sheikh Muslihiddin
This large memorial complex located in the historical part of the city was erected on the tomb of Muslihiddin Khujandi - the ruler of Khujand, a poet who lived in the 12th century. The legends say that sheikh Muslihiddin was a holy miracle-maker. First he was buried in Undzhi settlement (Khujand suburb) but his admirers transferred his remains to the city and built the mausoleum on this place. It was in the 12th century. Back then the mausoleum was a small burial chamber made of burned bricks decorated by terracotta. This tomb was destroyed during Mongol invasion.
In the 14th century the mausoleum was rebuilt with slight changes. It consisted of two rooms. But this building was also destroyed.
In the 16th century building was erected on what was left of the old mausoleum. Structurally it differed from former structures and became not just the burial site but also the place for prays and ceremonial ceremonials.
Today the Mausoleum of Sheikh Muslihiddin is an architectural complex consisting of the cathedral mosque, the 19th-century minaret (above 20m tall) and ancient burials with the Mausoleum of sheikh Muslihiddin being the main one.
The present mausoleum is two-storied with the portal entrance and the wide dome. In the center is ziyoratkhona (the hall of commemoration) and the tomb-gurkhona under the dome. In the center of the room there is a wooden sagona covered with graceful geometrical carving with vegetative ornament and incrustations.
Khujand is attractive to tourists due to its numerous ancient monuments. There have survived medieval citadels and mosques. The most known are the mosque and the mausoleum of sheikh Muslekheddin (17th-18th centuries.).
The city's past is eloquently told in the History and Local Lore Archeological Museum. Close to the city is located the well-known Kairakum man-made lake. This is the most visited place thanks to its very beautiful scenery, mild climate and picturesque landscape. Pure transparent waters of the lake are great for fishing, boating and swimming.
Khujand is one of the centers of mountaineering. Climbers prefer Ak-Su area located in one of the most picturesque corners of Kyrgyzstan near Khujand. This massif is distinguished by the beauty of wild nature and very tall rocks. Their height often exceeds 5.000 meters (Ak-Su - 5,355 m, Block - 5,239 m).
Khujand at the very entrance to the Ferghana valley, Khujand used to be a major stop and trading point along The Great Silk Road
The city thus controlled the entire traffic and at the time used its prime location to its best advantage levying heavy taxes on the goods entering and leaving the valley. In modern times, a new road into the Ferghana Valley was blasted further north over the 2268m high Kamchik pass on the southern slopes of the Chatgal range.
It was Alexander the Great who originally laid the foundation of Alexandria Eskhate "Alexandria the Furthest" as he called his 9th city, in the IV century BC. Khujand thus marks the extent of his advances into Central Asia. In fact, Alexander did reach as far as Samarkand but his troops fell back again and Alexander decided to build a stronghold on the site of modern Khujand, strategically ideal for defense and conquest.
The city grew in importance after the onset of Islam. In the XIII century, it put up the most spirited resistance to the invading Monghols under Genghis Khan according to historical accounts.
Much later, Khujand became the source of many territorial disputes between the Khanates of Kokand and Bukhara. Eventually, the entire region was subsumed into the Russian Czarist Empire and Khujand became part of greater Samarkand.
Khujand is the second largest city in the republic, an important economic center for the powerhouse of the Tajik economy, producing half of the country's GDP with three quarters of the country's arable land.