Architecture may be something I don’t know an awful lot about, but let me tell you something, I know ‘crazy’ when I see it. Although I also went to Ashgabat last year, where the buildings are truly made from the ministries to the white marble apartments, as far as the interiors of what I saw go they don’t quite measure up to Dushanbe’s ‘masterpiece’ – the Navruz Palace.
From the outside it’s not quite as decadent or garish as from the inside, and interestingly you can walk up to it and climb the staircase you can see in the above pictures,and behind is a beautiful lake as well. And you also have the Dushanbe Hyatt next door sharing the lake. But this palace, on the inside is a different kettle of fish altogether!
Also, there were tours on offer and as it seemed for most of my time in Central Asia, I was the only one on the tour. I seemed to find the guide quite by accident, I was hoping for a tour but I really didn’t think it would happen – it was already 4pm or so. The lady found me and told me to wait, she was looking for a party visiting the palace, I waited at the top of the staircase for her. She came back and she couldn’t find them. The price wasn’t much, less than $10USD and so I was pretty chuffed, and I’d heard it was over the top but I wasn’t prepared quite for what I was about to see!
Navruz Palace was built by President Emomali Rahmon, or at his request to be more accurate, and finished in 2002. It is used for national and international conferences and is filled with conference rooms, chambers and banquet halls. It has hosted many heads of states.
Despite the full on nature of the place, as a visitor I couldn’t help but be impressed and the fact that there was barely anyone in the place at all was … well a little disconcerting. Much of the woodwork was mahogany and I believe some of the biggest chandeliers in the palace are also some of the biggest and heaviest on Earth!
I was taken up in a lift to the possibly top floor (it only has four floors, but they incredibly high floors) and was blown away again by the detail. The expense to make this building is evident to see to the visitor. In the photo gallery above this paragraph you’ll find a portrait of the President, Rahmon, his image is never far away in Dushanbe. Ironically he seems to be next to a ‘peasant’ (for want of a better word), a clear message is trying to be sent but yet he used how much of his country’s wealth on this buildings and others like it?
All in all, although I have very mixed feelings about the palace and the money that must have been used to build it, I was blown away by what I saw and very glad I got the opportunity to see it. It’s well worth it for the visitor to Dushanbe for so many reasons. And you won’t forget it in a hurry. You may feel both uncomfortable and a little insignificant when there of course!
Have you been to a similar sort of place? Do let me know in the comments below, or just your reaction to this palace. It’s certainly one of a kind, and despite the weird and wonderful buildings I’ve seen across Central Asia and the world, I can’t think of one that is quite as… as… bombastic? as this one!
Thanks for joining me today – May the Journey Never End!