Tashkent sprawls in all directions from its focal point — Amir Timur Square. It is here that you can see Uzbekistan's curious elevation of Tamerlane to national hero. The tyrant's defiant posture atop a huge horse is certainly engaging.
In the evenings the square gets filled up with chess-players who will gladly play anybody. From here west is the Zerafshan — a popular jumble of cafés, restaurants and shops. At the other end of this is a fascinating sight — the last palace of the Romanovs in Central Asia. The building was abandoned to the Bolsheviks during the revolution and, for that reason alone, retains considerable atmosphere. Unfortunately you can't go inside — it is now used, ironically enough, by the Uzbek Foreign Ministry.
On the other side of the stadium is the ankhor — Tashkent's central canal. You are highly likely to see boys and men of all ages leaping in and out of this fast flowing channel during the hotter months. Along the banks are some very pleasant teahouses — chaykhanas in Uzbek — where you can find shade and a fresh pot of the local brew.
One of the finer ways to get around the city is by using the Metro. The style throughout is very Moscow circa 1937, though the oldest stations were constructed only 40 years ago. It is not clear which parts are original and which parts have been renovated though some stations — in particular Alisher Navoi and Amir Timur — are very fine indeed. Near the latter is Tashkent's pretty opera house, with nightly performances between September and May.
The museums in Tashkent are the best in the country. For carpets and fabrics the best place is the Fine Arts Museum of Uzbekistan, swiftly followed by the Museum of Applied Arts. For those interested in the Soviet era the Geology museum makes for an engaging visit. The structure itself, and the staff inside, are so utterly Soviet you would think it was some sort of time warp. Inside can be found mineral and rock samples from all over Central Asia, as well as a complete dinosaur skeleton.
Near to here is the national parliament and concert hall — though neither are of any distinction. Older attractions in the city include the Kukeldash Madrassah, a fine old pile near the bazaar, and Khast Imam — home to what is thought to be the world's oldest extant Quran. If you happen to be in Tashkent on a Sunday the Catholic cathedral is certainly worth a visit.