Tashkent residents have all the reasons to be proud of their Mustakillik Maidoni (‘Independence Square’), which is another city’s attraction.
Wide granite stairs coming up between the cascades of 7-meter-high squirts of the fountains lead to a huge colonnade that in an arc-form manner flanks the square in the east. The 16 white marble columns with capitals in the form of the traditional sharafa-stalactites are spanned with silvery metal roof decorated with sculptures of storks. Since ancient times in Uzbekistan these birds are believed to symbolize peace and tranquility.
From the central arch of the colonnade an alley runs to a granite obelisk that serves a kind of pedestal for a bronze sphere placed on it. It represents the globe with the outlines of Uzbekistan territory embossed on its surface. At the foot of the pedestal is a figure of a sitting young woman with a baby in her arms. This statue symbolizes the young independent Republic of Uzbekistan and its bright future.
Standing by the obelisk, you won’t be able to view the whole square at a glance. It is over 12 hectares in area. To the south of the monument stands a building in the classical architectural style. Its main entrance has a portico with pillars and a pediment with the national flag of Uzbekistan flying over it. The building houses the Senate – the upper chamber of Uzbekistan’s Oliy Majlis (‘Parliament’). The high-rise building across from the Senate houses ministries and government agencies. The impressive gold parallelepiped building of the Cabinet of Ministries completes the administrative part of the square.
The northern part of the square gradually turns into park with the memorial Fame and Commemoration Alley. On either side of the alley there are porticos faced with granite and decorated with fretted pillars and panjara – trellises. In the porticos, fourteen steles representing 14 provinces of Uzbekistan contain peculiar Commemoration Books with the names of the citizens of Uzbekistan who were killed on the fronts of World War II. The alley leads to the Eternal Flame and the monument to a Mourning Mother. At the foot of the monument there are always flowers brought by the descendants of the countrymen who gave their lives in the fight against fascism. The park goes down to the Ankhor canal, edging the square on the west.
Its is hard to imagine that 150 years ago here, on the left bank of the Ankhor, at the site of this splendid Independence Square, there used to be Kokand Khan’s palace surrounded by a fortification wall. After the tsarist Russia had conquered Tashkent, the wall was demolished and a street connecting the “old” and “new” towns was laid, and the site of today’s Senate building was occupied by so called ‘White House’ – the Office of Turkestan Governor-General. In front of this building there used to be a parade ground for the troops of Tashkent garrison. Both the street and the parade ground were not paved and were buried in dust in the summer and in sticky mud in the autumn. During the Soviet times the square was rebuilt and was used for military parades on public holidays.
Independence Square is always full of people. It is one of the favorite rest places of Tashkent residents and guests of the capital. With its impressive structures and monuments, well-groomed lawns and flowerbeds, and thousands of fountain streams this square, which is one of the most beautiful squares in the world, looks really grand and ceremonial.