History of termez

Near Termez the oldest evidence of human life was found in Uzbekistan. In a cave, Soviet explorers discovered the remains of a Neanderthal child in 1938, who must have lived about 70,000 years ago. In addition, various cave paintings were discovered.

In the year 329 BC, Termez was conquered by troops of Alexander the Great and received the name Demetris. From the 1st to the 3rd century it was part of the kingdom of Kushan and known as Ta-li-mi. At that time, Buddhism spread from India to Central Asia, Afghanistan and further to modern China and became the main religion of the region. Various historical Buddhist buildings can still be visited today. In addition, buildings of Zoroastrianism are also preserved in Termez.

30 km west of Termez lies the ruins of the ancient settlement of Kampyr-tepa directly on the banks of the Amu Darya. It has recently hit the headlines due to the work of the Uzbek archaeologist Edward Rtveladze. In his article, he creates the thesis that Kampyr-tepa is in fact the city of Alexandria on the Oxus founded by Alexander the Great. He was able to prove that below the previously known buildings from the Kushan Empire (1st-3rd century) there is another cultural layer with buildings from the 4th century BC. This would fit chronologically to the conquests of Alexander. The theory is controversial; many scientists still assume that Alexandria on the Oxus was on the site of the ancient settlement Ai Khanum in today’s Afghanistan on the left bank of the Amu Darya.

Termez during Afghan war

Termez experienced a boom during the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. Due to its location directly on the border to Afghanistan, the Soviet army used the city as a base for their campaigns. Many soldiers lived with their families in the city and took advantage of the city’s cultural offerings during the front leave. There was a philharmonic orchestra, many restaurants as well as play and sports facilities for the children. The local population earned additional income by smuggling goods from Afghanistan. With the presence of the army, the local central market was so rich that customers even came from Samarkand or Dushanbe.

After the end of the war in Afghanistan in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Termez had to struggle with economic problems. The military base was abandoned and with the departure of the soldiers, many jobs were lost. 

The most famous son of the city is al-Hakim at-Tirmizi, an Islamic mystical thinker and author of numerous works on various issues concerning the relationship between God, the cosmos and man. On top of that, he is known as the collector of Hadith (words, actions and silent approvals of the prophet Muhammad). His tomb mausoleum is considered one of the sights of Termez.

The city lies on the river Amu Darya, which represents the border between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. A few kilometres east of the city, the Bridge of Friendship was built during the Soviet era, the only connection between the two neighbouring countries. 

General information:

  • Population: 140.000 (2018)
  • Elevation: 306 m

Air connections: Termez has an airport from which flights to Tashkent and Russia are offered.

Railway connections: there is a night train connection to and from Tashkent (it stops in Samarkand and Karshi).

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