Travel to Uzbekistan: Bukhara: Russian
In 1887, the Central Asian Railway opened a station at Kagan, or New Bukhara. Call it Globalization Knocks.
Between Bukhara and New Bukhara, ten miles away, the Emir Abdul Ahad in 1895 built a czarist palace in anticipation of a royal visit that never happened. The architect was Alexei Benois, who also designed the Romanov mansion in Tashkent.
The Palace That Never Was is schizophrenic. Here's the czar's intended entrance.
The walls are decorated with paintings of European Russia.
There's a ball-room, too, though the floor, stage, and ceiling are all Soviet-era modifications.
The other end of the building is in a completely different style.
Here's the emir's entrance.
The emir's office.
The architect pretty clearly had an eye for Oriental ornament but couldn't escape his training. Hence the fusion of styles. (The building has had various incarnations since 1920, mostly as the property of the railway administration. Perhaps that helps explain the spartan furnishings.)
Which style dominates? It's a bit like asking which side wins in the course of globalization. The indigenous culture can have its trim and frippery, but--like it or not--the nuts and bolts belong to the West.
A more modest demonstration of Russification: the iconostasis of the Orthodox church in Kagan.
More recently, Bukhara has filled up with Soviet-era housing. The city has four new housing areas or rayons, each built for 40,000 people. Each of the four was composed of four microrayons, of 10,000 people each. And--you can guess--each microrayon is composed of four large apartment buildings. Since independence, the apartments have been sold to their occupants.
Another example of the city's new housing.
Salaries are very low: a young university graduate working as an examiner for the Central Bank is considered well off with a monthly salary of $70. That's more than twice the minimum wage for government workers. Still, free markets make rich people, and on the outskirts of town a car dealer has built himself this place.
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