Location of Panjakent
The city is situated at just under 1,000 metres above sea level in an approximately 5 km wide valley of the Zerafshan River, which subsequently forms the livelihood of the important Uzbek cities of Samarkand and Bukhara. The name of the city comes from the Persian Panchekant, which roughly means “five places”.
History of Punjakent
The city is most famous for the “old” Panjakent, a former important settlement of the Sogdian Empire, which lies on a hill southeast of the present city. Sogdia existed from the 4th to the 8th century in an area that included parts of today’s states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and gained importance mainly due to its location on the Silk Road. Panjakent experienced a boom in the 5th century when many traders and craftsmen moved in. In the 7th and 8th centuries, the city was the capital of one of the Sogdian principalities.
During the Arab conquests, the city was besieged and finally conquered in 722. Towards the end, Panjakent was abandoned and refounded closer to the Zerafshan River. Subsequently, the city lost importance.
Today’s excavations in Panjakent are considered the most important in all of Tajikistan. However, researchers are mainly interested in finding exhibits. Preserving the ancient city is considered a disproportionately large effort, which is why the excavations are exposed to the weather without protection and are thus likely to be destroyed step by step over the years.
Today, about 40,000 people live in Panjakent. The city has a hospital and a university. It is also the seat of regional administrative authorities. The city is characterized by a continental climate; due to the altitude, summers are not as hot as in other places in Central Asia, with an average temperature of just under 23 degrees in July. The winters are much colder, with an average of -1.6 degrees in January.
The city is a starting point for excursions to the Seven Lakes region.
Air connections: Panjakent has an airport, but there are currently no passenger connections from it.
Railway connections: the city does not have a railway station.