In the vast expanse of the Uzbek outback lies this gem, mostly unnoticed by travelers. This massive, Soviet-built solar furnace is one of the largest in the world, and it looks like something straight out of a science fiction novel.
This structure is known by several names, including the Institute of the Sun and Physics of the Sun. The Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan’s Physicotechnical Institute was first organized in 1943. Its earliest divisions focused on the study of nuclear physics and electronics, and in the 1980s a new group was established to study the sun. A solar research facility was built in the village of Changikhisarak, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) outside the city of Tashkent.
At this new facility, the centerpiece was a massive solar furnace. Like the Odeillo Solar Furnace in France, it features a field of heliostats that direct sunlight into a large paraboloid concentrator. Its curved surface is covered with 10,700 small mirrors that bounce the light onto a large concave mirror.
Built during the Soviet era, this complex construction of mirrors and steel continues to serve the purpose of exploring the use of solar rays. But hands down, after the tour you’ll have the feeling that this noble quest can be broken down to the phrase “will it melt?” Still, wandering through the massive array of mirrors is a once-in-a-lifetime experience as this furnace is one of only two ever built.
Know Before You Go
Access is only possible with a tour. For 50,000 som/person you will get a private tour with the Head of the Institute. No contact number known, so you'll just have to take your chance by driving there.