The Rudaki Museum of History
The Rudaki Museum of History is one of those rare Gems that does contain some unique treasures.
Upon arrival one is met with a museum in well-kept grounds, surrounded by ancient treasures and a statue of Abu Abdollah Jafar ibn Mohammad Rudaki (ca.858-941).
The Rudaki Museum has a pillared entrance at the centre of a white-walled building. The only windows are either side of the main door given the appearance of a summer house come mausoleum.
When entering this attraction, you know you have entered something of history. Walking onto a carpet akin to something from your grandmother's house and met by staff who feel as if they have aged with the museum.
The greeting is pleasant as the experience begins, you will be required to put velvet covers over your shoes to protect the 1980s styled carpet.
As with many museums across the former soviet union, you will be followed by a woman making sure nothing is amiss. At first, this is a little annoying, but when you realise that many of the artefacts here date back thousands of years with no complex alarm system or glass protection, all become cool. She may not have the friendliest of demeanours, but when she realises you have an interest, she'll occasionally point out a few extra treasures (although no English is spoken).
The Rudaki Museum of History offers a great insight into the surrounding historical sites, especially the nearby fortress.
We would suggest you come here before making your visit to this hilltop fortification. Housed within these ageing walls are a selection of ancient artefacts detailing life over 1000 years ago.
The highlight for many visitors is found at the core of the building a serious of Sogdian frescos showing different forms—my favourite the ancient Hero Rustam doing battle with demons. From the Sogdian period, there are also burial jars, cooking pots, pottery and unbelievably fine jewellery.
Other sections focus on the poet Rudaki (born 859 and buried 941 in Panjikent said to be the founder of classical Persian poetry), the Samanid dynasty and local costumes and furniture. A section towards the end of your visit focuses on regional history during the Russian and soviet period. Notable yet slightly unusual exhibits are the first metal plough, and diesel generator brought to the area.
The visit, however, will finish in ubiquitous badly stuffed animal room, it does show the wildlife that may be found in the region but poorly presented and way past its sell-by date!
Located at the centre of Panjikent it's not tricky to find just look for the manicured garden wide-open path and statute of Rudaki.
As Panjikent is a small town, the museum is within walking distance of all accommodation, and transport stops.
Open daily from 8 AM – 5 PM Closed Mondays
*note: a Museum guide can be booked at extra cost if you're interested in the history they are well worth the extra cost. If you have a good local guide or connection, you may be able to have the museum opened out of standard hours.