The word “bazaar” is usually connected with trade, a place where one can buy or sell something. But in the East, from of old, a bazaar was also something like a forum for people to gather and meet old friends, as well as share the latest news. To make these meeting comfortable, each oriental bazaar had chaykhana (tea-houses), where in the shadow, hidden from baking sun; one could have a rest enjoying a pleasant chat with a friend. The city life was humming at the bazaar, constantly replenishing with different events, it was a place for the rulers’ orders to read out for all to hear, the executions to take place in public, folk festivals in honor of some festivity or solemn occasions to arrange. But the trade was not left without a heed either: diverse rows of shopping stalls burst with the best goods imported there from different countries of the world. There, one could find silks, ceramics, pottery and precious metal wares, as well as spices, fruits etc.
Tashkent, once located on the route of the Great Silk Road, was a lively trade city of merchants and craftsmen. In the territory of Tashkent there existed several bazaars, the oldest one among the bazaars extant up to date is the Alay bazaar (Alayskiy bazaar, Oloy bazaar). Its history roots dated back to the period of the Great Silk Road development. At the beginning when it was built on Oloy mountain (presumably in the XII-XIII centuries), this place, in fact, was not a bazaar. It was used as a sales point to trade with livestock and meat at the caravan route section, running from Eastern Turkestan through the Fergana Valley.
The time passed by, and it was not until the XIX century when the place of lively trade reinvented itself into a full-fledged bazaar, becoming a progenitor of that Alay peasant market we currently know. The bazaar’s outskirts were gradually built over with settlements and structures of European style. Even at that time the Alay bazaar was the most popular bazaar due to its advantageous and rather fortunate location at the border of two Tashkent parts: the Old Town and new districts built in the period of Russian colonization. And it was the 1950s when, for the first time, trade stalls were built of white brick.
The modern Alay bazaar is a beautiful hypermarket, decorated in national style which combines the spirit of the old East and modernity in its external outward. Spacious rows of shopping stalls of the Alay bazaar meet a visitor with a variety of gods. As before, there, one can find everything, as much as one’s heart desires: fruits and spices, fresh meat and fish, medicinal herbs, milk products and pickled products. Furthermore, there are special gift and flower stalls in the Alay bazaar. The two-storey jewelry complex of the Alay bazaar is famous for its wide range of silver and gold items. The bazaar is well-situated in the very center of the city near the underground and several hotels and so is popular not only among the Tashkent citizens but also the guests of the capital.