One of the oldest towns in Central Asia, Khujand (pop. 160,000) was a major stop on the Silk Road. Until the security in Dushanbe improved, it was the site of much of the Western business focus in Tajikistan, at least in part because the northern regions of the country, including Khujand, were spared the fighting in the recent civil war because of the high mountains separating it from the south of the country. Many local travel agencies and business centers offer tours to the Pamirs, accommodations and other services. Located on the Syr Darya River, the main attractions include the Panjshanbe Bazaar, a typical Central Asian market, and the mosque, madressa and mausoleum of Sheikh Massal ad-Din. Although Khujand is more than 2,500 years old, almost no architecture from earlier eras is preserved. (Mongols destroyed most of the city in the 1400s.) However, it is possible to visit the ancient oasis town of Isfar-Tam, located northeast of Khujand on an old Silk Road route. It has beautiful gardens and a resort area on the riverbank. 125 mi/200 km north of Dushanbe.

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