Tajik Teahouse

In 1987, Dushanbe presented Boulder with one of the most spectacular gifts ever given a sister city: a traditional Tajik choihona (teahouse). It is the only one of its kind in the Western hemisphere, a priceless representation of the Persian culture and Tajik artistry. The Teahouse opened to the world in 1998 and has become a major cultural attraction for Boulder.

After a long search for a perfect location in Boulder, a spot near downtown at 1770 13th Street was developed by the City of Boulder. Across from the green oasis of Central Park along Boulder Creek, and next to flowing water and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, it was a beautiful location to situate this magnificent building. The City also created the adjacent Civic Plaza that plays host to many popular Boulder events including the Boulder Creek Festival (Memorial Day Weekend) and the annual summer Farmers’ Market. The Teahouse serves as key focus in Boulder’s Canyon Cultural Corridor.

Tajik artists, in traditional felt shoes, baggy trousers and embroidered jackets, guided local Boulder construction workers, in blue jeans and hard hats, to assemble pieces of a 2,100-square-foot puzzle. Finally, on May 15, 1998, Boulder citizens were the first to step into the Faberge-egg interior of the Teahouse, a million-dollar work of art, the largest gift ever presented to the United States by the people of the former-Soviet Union, now Tajikistan.

Since opening, the Teahouse has been operated as a full-service restaurant, drawing more than 100,000 visitors each year. Visitors are always welcome to just wander and enjoy the beauty of the interior or to sit outside amid the rose garden. The restaurant offers international food from many cultures including traditional dishes of Tajikistan. As you would expect, the Teahouse restaurant features exotic teas from around the world and special blends from Boulder-based Celestial Seasonings Teas.

The exterior gleams with bright ceramic panels, kiln-fired at night because of chronic energy shortages in Dushanbe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The interior is a dazzling bouquet of bright colors and figures with ancient meaning. Fourteen cedar pillars were transported 2,000 miles to Dushanbe from Lake Baykal, then elaborately hand-carved and transported again, halfway around the world to Boulder. Carved plaster panels form elaborate frames for mirrored walls.
Handmade traditional Tajik furniture – painted tables and stools and padded platforms for lounging share the interior with Western-style tables and chairs. A rose garden planted by Boulder garden clubs scents the summer air. The beautiful Tea Bar was handcrafted by the father of the restaurant’s proprietor, Lenny Martinelli.

At the heart of the Teahouse is a fountain surrounding seven graceful, hammered-copper sculptures, based on a 12th century poem, “The Seven Beauties”, in which princesses from seven different nations tell fables illustrating core cultural values.