The city of Penjikent ("five villages") is located in Khujand area of Tajikistan in a picturesque Zeravshan river valley. Quite possibly the five villages started the history of this remarkable city which originated in the 5th-8th centuries AD. Penjikent of that time was one of the most important cultural and crafts centers of Sogd. It was even named "Central Asian Pompeii". It was a superbly fortified well-organized city with a ruler's palace, two temples, markets, rich dwelling houses decorated with numerous paintings, wooden and clay statues of ancient gods. Penjikent was the last city on the way from Samarkand in Kukhistan Mountains. It was a very favorable location since no caravan or person going from the mountains or returning to Samarkand could bypass Penjikent.
The city was destroyed by Arabs in the eighth century (the key battle took place on Mount Mug). The ruins of this ancient city were found only in the last century. Today the tourists can see the remains of dwelling houses and office buildings, the citadel with the palace, the house of craftsmen, and fire worshipers church.