The city's utilitarian Soviet buildings are clad in dazzling white marble, and the theme continues in the airport.
The five Stans of Central Asia are now opening the front door to reveal a new galaxy of wonders for the connoisseur of exotic and unusual experiences.
Helen Anderson finds the bizarre and beautiful on a road trip through Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
Weird, wacky or simply wonderful. You think you've seen it all but these cities will make you look again. Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2009 names the world's top 10 most eccentric cities.