Hissor (Гиссар or Hissar) is a town located about 25 kilometers drive southwest from Dushanbe, in the Hisor Valley, along the Khanaka river which soon joins the River Kafirnigan which then joins the famous Amu Darya at the border of Afghanistan and Tajikistan. There is also another larger town named Hissor in English but Хисор in Cyrillic letters, west from Dushanbe, so make sure that if you are trying to reach the fortress go to the first mentioned. Hissor used to be the main settlement of the area for about 2000 years until Dushanbe started to develop as the capitol of the Soviet republic of Tajikistan. During the earlier times, it was an important Silk Road trading post between Samarkand and Termez in present day Uzbekistan.
Hissor is most known of its ancient fortress which stands on a hill guarding the valley between 2 mountain ranges to east and to west. Historical records mention fortress in Hisor as far back as 1000 BC. More recent records of the fort relate to the time when Cyrus the Great founded the first Persian Empire around 550 BC. Not much of the original fort remains though as it has been destroyed and rebuilt again several times during its history due to its strategical position. As usual, different parts of the fortress have been also added during different time periods and under different rulers. The 16th century marked the building of several components of the fort, namely the wall where the main gate is now located, the Old Madrassa, the Makhdumi A’zam Mausoleum and some additions to the Old Mosque.
The most latest restoration may be somewhat touristic as the partial reconstruction has provided places for vendors inside the fortress in order to sell souvenirs for tourists. The latest restoration has used the 18th century Hissar fortress as a model, that was destroyed by the red army. Nevertheless, the place is worth a visit if you are in Dushanbe and have time for a day trip. The oldest surviving part of Hisor Fort is the arched gate, which is from around the year 500 AD. You can also see many not reconstructed parts of the walls if you venture a bit further into the hill towards west.
In addition to the fortress, there are two madrasas on the other side of the square / park area to the south. These 2 madrassas, called new and old madrasa, are very similar to the ones that you largely see in Uzbekistan. One of them has a museum inside telling about the Tajikistan’s rural past and housing some Soviet era memorabilia. One of the madrasas also house the Sangin Mosque within one of it’s walls with some nice acoustics inside.
Next to the madrasas, there are the ruins of a caravanserai that was built in 1808 but most of it’s material was moved to Dushanbe in order to build a theatre during the Soviet era, leaving only the lower part of its current place. The caravanserai was a place for traders and their camels or other animals to safely spend the night during their journey. You can also find the remains of a bathhouse between the madrasas.
If you visit Hisor during Sunday you have a good chance to see part of the local wedding festivities as it is a place where the local people gather for photos. Inside the fortress, a wedding ceremony building was added recently which has increased the popularity of the place among the locals even further. Some people also like that the local bazar in Хисор is a more authentic experience than the ones in Dushanbe and provides a better insight on the daily life of the Tajiks.
Hissor day trip from Dushanbe
Visiting Hissor is a great day trip to visit from Dushanbe. It only takes about half a day and it is better to go in the morning, especially during summer time as there is not much shade available to protect from the sun here. Our tour includes all there is to see about Hissor.
Travel to hissor
You can reach Hissor the easiest with a car by driving the M41 or getting a taxi, all the drivers know where you are going. If you are using the public transportation you should take the minibus to Hisor from the Zarnisar bazar in Dushanbe, which you can reach with the bus number 8. Bear in mind that you still need to move around 5 km inside Hissor from the local bus station to the fortress area towards South. There is also a train connection from Dushanbe to Hissor several times a day which then also requires a second transport inside Hissar to reach the fort site.
Other destinations and sights near Hissor
Page updated 30.7.2021