The 360 degree view from atop Hissor reveals why past rulers based themselves here – every pass and approach to this fertile stretch is in full view with plenty of land in between, enabling a full warning of conquering armies, bandits and trouble in general. For several centuries the earth walls and gate towers have given good views but rarely good news; Central Asia’s history has been tumultuous and bloody. But now Hissor, a quick drive from downtown Dushanbe, simply affords a panorama of jagged Fan mountain peaks and the bucolic undulations of sunflowers, wheat and mulberries surrounding the capital. Explore the artefacts on display in the nearby museum then climb to the site of the Emir of Bukhara’s last residence in Tajik country before he fled the advancing Soviets for Afghanistan. Hissor is a great place to bask in a gentler landscape before heading through the vaulting peaks and plateau of the Pamir.