Well it’s been a totally immense time touring Tajikistan and I was excited to be on a tour to Hisor Fort in the far west of the country. When I heard that the ruins of this city were over 3,000 years old I was intrigued, especially since it’s on the Silk Road and in quite a strategic point. Hisor Fort is not too far from Hisor the town, and also close to the Uzbekistan border. Naturally, I got in touch with Tajikistan’s oldest tour company, Travel in Tajikistan who also run the Pamir Tour Service and after touring Dushanbe the capital city, it was time to head out to the town of Hisor and then onwards to the famous fort that sits here. It was quite a treat!
Booking Your Tour to Hisor Fort
So once you have arrived in Dushanbe and want to do the tour to Hisor Fort (also spelt Hissar), organise it through Alisher at Travel in Tajikistan. You can contact Alisher here:
The Drive from Dushanbe to Hisor Fort
Said is my excellent driver for the day. He is knowledgeable and fluent in English. We drive from Dushanbe to the town of Hisor, which is about 16 kilometres west of the capital, towards the Uzbekistan border. After passing through the city of Hisor, it’s a bit further down another road to the actual fort itself.
I will write a bit about the town of Hisor separately but one building of note on the way was this crazy cool “Watermelon Tea House”, basically a building which resembles a huge watermelon. And inside, yes a tea house!
Arrival at Hisor Fort: Gatecrashed the Wedding!
After passing through the town of Hisor and the watermelon tea house, we arrive at Hisor Fort. A special unexpected surprise is waiting for me! I was lucky to catch this. It was a Tajikistan style wedding with live music and dancing and I watched the happy couple move from their car to the stage where they held a party! Yes, we kind of gatecrashed the wedding! Congratulations to the couple whose names I don’t know!
Top 5 Sights at Hisor Fort
When you get to Hisor Fort, it’s more than just the fort itself. There’s quite a bit to see and do here and for a start you are in awe of the surroundings. I was the only foreign tourist there and you will be too, unless you’re there in peak summer months I guess. As a guide, Said is very detailed and knowledgeable about the history of Hisor and will answer any question on it. There is a map on the way in, but very little coverage is given to this place in English online, many sources being incorrect.
I have been in many Madressas before, most notably in Iran. They are basically Islamic centres of education, intricately designed to house and educate Muslims. In the inner courtyard there are rooms behind arches all the way around.
In modern day Hisor, the Madressa is now a museum, each room giving you a fascinating new experience to explore and learn about. My guide Said explains everything there is to know. There is little or no information written in English. The museum rooms take us right up to the present times of modern day Tajikistan. From Islamic art to the Second World War, a lot of history is covered here. Entry is 5 Somoni though it;s not strictly enforced. Literally the girl taking the money was sitting reading a book when we turned up.
Again I toured lots of Caravansarays on my travels in the Middle East and Persia. The most memorable Caravansarays I saw were in Sheki and Qazvin.
This one lies in ruins, but you can still see the splendid outline of where the Caravansari once was in a completely neat pattern. It’s to the left of the Madressa as you face it.
The number one attraction is Hisor Fort itself of course and though it has been reconstructed, you get a real idea of what the fort was like. Most of the fort was destroyed during the Soviet era, one of the USSR’s blemishes on history that is so dear to the people who respected the communist ideology. Such a shame that it was destroyed, but also the fact that it has been rebuilt shows how important the site is historically to the Tajiks.
From the front of the fort overlooking the main square was where the King’s spokesperson would have given a public address to the people.
Sadly the palace on the hill was completely destroyed and no longer exists. Photos show you what it was once like and Said takes me through the brutal history of this place. Once a thriving community, abandoned at times, destroyed but always a key central point on the Silk Road route.
Sadly the government budget to fund a bigger archaelogical expedition aren’t quite there at present, hopefully some time though.
Can you believe that there is football pitch inside the fort’s boundary? Yes there were once walls on the edge here and now on a flat grassy section, a full pitch. The hills and mounds that gape down on it acting as a fake grandstand in my fantasy football dream pitch location.
While the Tajiks never set the football world alight yet, it’s nice to see them playing my favourite game.
After touring all those spots we see an ampitheatre, some horses (you can pay for a ride), some village life in action and I browse the shops.
On a final note, this article took me about 20 hours in total to write. I had it written, computer crashed, internet failed etc. It’s so frustrating being in these remote regions, back to the bad times of January 2015, so sorry if this post is short – it was really really long and detailed but it was deleted by WordPress. As I type this, I find this in a ridiculous irony as Hisor Fort was once a grand place, a huge community lived here, it was destroyed and rebuilt. It feels to me like I had a great article written on it, it was deleted and now it’s rebuilt! Hence why I’ve kept this part of the story in there!
Definitely get out to Hisor Fort if you can, it’s a great place to tour in Tajikistan, and slightly off the tourist trail too, especially in winter. Thanks hugely to Pamir Tour Service and Silk Road Explore who helped me book it as well as sorting out my Ala Archa Tour and my Uzbekistan Letter of Invitation.
Here are my videos from my tour of Hisor Fort: