Thank you Soviets!

Nukus Street, Tashkent

Some of the nice things about living in an ex-Soviet Union Republic are the wide streets and huge areas of public space. In a capitalist society that values individuals, there is more privately owned land in cities than in socialist societies. For a cyclist, the extra traffic lanes and large sidewalks provide safer cycling paths. This morning I went for my second extended ride and got in about 20 kilometers. The traffic before 7:00 AM is light and on Saturday, you get an extra hour to cycle before it becomes unsafe. Although there are sections where the sidewalks are uneven, a cyclist can get around pretty well around the city. There are also many parks in the city that provide cyclist protection as well.

Another legacy of the Soviets are the unusual architecture gems around the city.

Mention the term ‘Soviet architecture’ and instantly enormous concrete buildings come to mind. The term ‘Brutalist’, from the French ‘beton brut’ (raw concrete), flourished in the 1950s -1970s, inspired by the works of Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. As an architectural style it was also associated with social, utopian ideology.

After the devastating Tashkent earthquake of 1966, many large-scale apartment blocks were quickly built to house the homeless. Later, several grand buildings were constructed as well as the marvellous metro system

The massive Hotel Uzbekistan, centrally located at Amir Timur square, Tashkent, is a classic example of Soviet 1970’s modernist architectural style. In its heyday celebrities such as Federico Fellini, Marcello Mastroianni and Raj Kapoor stayed there, as well as the power brokers of the USSR. 

Uzbek Journeys website September 19, 2011

One of my favorites so far is the Hotel Uzbekistan. The hotel was build in 1974 and has been renovated several times, the last being in 2010. The government was trying to sell its 80% ownership from what I last read. I plan on going inside and checking it out soon.

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