Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, is a fast-emerging Central Asian city surrounded by mountains, and presents a short-yet-fascinating history deeply rooted in Soviet-era Russia. Situated at the confluence of the Varzob and Kofar Nihon Rivers, Tajikistan's largest city sits in the very west of the country, close to the border of Uzbekistan. Up until the early 20th century, Dushanbe remained an isolated desert village before being discovered by the Soviets and transformed into a center of cotton and silk production.
Today, the city boasts enough sights to keep the modern tourist happy for a good few days, with impressive attractions such as Somoni Statue, numerous museums and galleries, as well as the ancient Gissar Fortress 20 miles outside the city center. Huge local bazaars offer a taste of local life, and although modern restaurants serving western cuisine are still in short supply, the thriving cafe culture here more than makes up for any lack of home comforts.