Mysterious land on the Great Silk Road.
Laying in the heart of Central Asia between two rivers of the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya and surrounded by mountains on the east, Uzbekistan has a history that goes back a thousand years.
Uzbekistan makes up a large part of the Great Silk Road and it is home to more than six thousand unique architectural monuments.
Large numbers of great scientists and well – known religious people used to live and work on the territory of present Uzbekistan. Here are some of their names: Timur – founder of Timurid’s Dynasty, famous conqueror whose empire extended from India to Turkey; Ulugbek – Timur’s grandson, one of the most famous astronomers who ever lived he figured the length of the year and he assembled a star catalogue giving the positions 922 stars; Abu Ali Ibn Sino mostly known as Avicenna – one of the most famous a healers, philosopher, and mathematician. His two unique and most important scientific books are: Khitob al – Shifo (Book of Healing) and philosophical encyclopedia al-Qanun al-Tibb (The Canon Of Medicine); Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Musa al-Khorezmi – founder of Algebra and the name of Algebra comes from his book Al-Jabr va-al-Mifuqabilah; Baghauddin Naqshbandi – Muslim religious scholar and many, many others.
The Great Silk Road – starts in China and goes all the way down to Western Europe through the territories of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan) over the mountains of Pamir and Tyan-Shan. It existed from the 2nd century B.C. till the 16th century A.D. with a total length of seven thousand kilometres. The first item transited via this road was Chinese Silk, therefore this road was named as the Great Silk Road.
Uzbekistan is a landlocked country, geographical shape of which is upside down Italian boot. It borders with Afghanistan and all Central Asian countries. Uzbekistan has cold winters and hot summers. The best time to visit Uzbekistan is from April till the beginning of June and then from the end of August till early November
As it was mentioned above Uzbekistan lies in a large and most important part of the Great Silk Road where breathtaking architectural monuments will take you to the time of medieval history and culture. Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva – who hasn’t heard about those legendary cities? This land is full of mystery and those cities were the most important sights and trade centres on the Great Silk Road.
But first, you arrive in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan and the largest city in the country with the population of 2,400,000 people. Tashkent is a major gateway in and a hub for Uzbekistan Airways, the largest airline in Central Asia. Uzbekistan Airways has regular flights to Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America as well as to the major cities of CIS. In 2001 Uzbekistan Airways was recognized as the safest air carrier in CIS and its services match international standards. Besides, Uzbekistan Airways fleet consists of new modern aircraft from the companies such as “Boeing” and “Airbus”. Those aircraft fly to many international destinations.
TASHKENT was basically destroyed in 1966 after an earthquake and almost the whole part of the new city was built after that. There are several significant architectural monuments in Tashkent as well as a few important museums. During your tour in Tashkent, you will visit Kukeldash Medressa – beautiful Medressa of the 16th century. From 1991 the medressa became an Islamic school and it is functioning now. Barak Khan Medressa was also built in the 16th century and there are also a few sights to see near the Medressa: such as Tilla Sheikh Mosque (Hastimom), the Institute of Islam, and a mausoleum of an Islamic scholar of Shaybanids epoch Abu Bakr Kaffol Shoshiy.
Then after fabulous launch in one of the best national restaurants, your sightseeing will continue in the new part of the city where you can visit a few museums such as Amir Timur Museum, which is one of the newest museums in Tashkent. Wonderful architecture, beautiful interior impresses visitors and guests. Museum of Applied Arts – is the former residence of wealthy Russian diplomat Alexander Polovtsev built in a traditional style in 1898. Additionally, the museum has interesting samples of embroidery, gold sewing, carpets, woodcarving, carpentry on a tree, ceramics, ornaments and jewels.
Basically, you’ll spend in Tashkent one full day and then will be transferred to Samarkand – the land where the mystery starts.
The author Ata-Malik Juvaini said: “If it is said that a paradise is to be seen in this world, then the paradise of this world is Samarkand”.
Samarkand is one of the largest and best-decorated sights along the Great Silk Road. It was the capital of Tamer lane’s Empire and it was called Traxiana. Located in Zeravshan River Valley, Samarkand is a key place on trade ways of Central Asia. In 329 B.C. it was called Maracanda during Alexander the Great’s administration and the city occupied 13 sq. km. It was damaged during an insurrection and then revived in the third and second centuries B.C. very impressive buildings were built at this time.
You will start your visit in Reghistan Square – one of the most famous and amazing monuments in Uzbekistan and all over Central Asia. The word “Registan” comes from a Persian and it means “sandy place”. It is a huge Plaza, which consists of three Medressahs: the most ancient one is Ulugbek Medressah that was built in 1420 by Ulugbek who the ruler of Samarkand at that time, the second is Sher Dor Medressah, built 200 years later, it has a picture of a cross between tiger and lion with a human face on its portal. The last one is Tilla Kari Medressah, Tilla means “gold” and Kari means “work” – Medressah with “Golden work” that how we translate it. The dome of this Medressah decorated with gold from inside and this is the reason why this Meddressah called Tilla Kari.
Ulugbek’s observatory – next important sight in Samarkand. Ulugbek built this observatory during 1428 – 1429 on one of the hills of Samarkand. It was round; three-storied building forty-six meters in diameter and thirty meters in height. He placed the large instrument in the main hall to observe a Moon, Sun and other stars. In 1449, when his own son Abd-al-Latif beheaded Ulughbek, the religious extremists destroyed his observatory. After many years, in 1908 Soviet archaeologist Vyatkin found the document where was mentioned the location of the observatory. He came to Samarkand and started his excavation. Only the underground part of sextant and basis of the building were saved. By found documents scientists made the model of the observatory.
The other important and fabulous places to see are: Shakhi Zinda ensemble is a place of pilgrimage, Bibi Khanim Mosque was built by Tamerlane in honour of his Chinese wife Bibi Khanum in 1398-1399., Guli Emir mausoleum Timurids Dynasty burial place. Tamerlane himself and his two sons and two grandsons, including Ulugbek are buried in Guri Emir. The ruins of ancient “Afrasiab”. We suggest you spend 2-3 days in Samarkand.
Then we move to Bukhara, in my personal opinion, it is the best city in Uzbekistan. Bukhara was known as a place of prayer and doctrine in the history. It is called Bukhoroi Sharif (Sacred Bukhara). After Samarkand, Bukhara may appear a little bit in a grey tone, but pretty soon after spending more time and feeling the atmosphere of Bukhara, you will start questioning yourself: Which one is better Samarkand or Bukhara?
And I don’t think you can find an answer, because they are so different. In Bukhara, you will visit Ark Fortress the royal city and the most ancient construction in Bukhara, built in the 16th century.
Chor – Minor means “four minarets”, was constructed in 1807 together with medressa of Caliph Niyazkul. Lyabi – Hauz is the wonderful quiet place with restaurants and “Chayhanas” (teahouse) surrounding it. Within 50 meters from Labi – House there is a Medressah of Nodir Devanbeghi, which was built in 1620. Some other important places such as Bolo-Hauz ensemble (the beginning of the 18th-20th cc.) Chashma-i-Ayub Mazar (1380 or 1384/85) Bukhara Emir Palace Sitoraiy-Mokhiy-Hosa (the end of the 19th c. – the beginning of the 20th c.). It will be wonderful to have 3-4 days in Bukhara.
Then you go through the desert to the west of Uzbekistan, to the city called Urgench. It is 25 km from the extraordinary important city of Khiva – it is an open-air museum
There is the legend that it was founded when Shem, son of Noah, discovered wealth at this place. His people called it Heivak, from which the name of Khiva came. Khiva, one of the cradles of the world civilization, is also enlisted as a heritage of the human value. It is one of the important centres on the Great Silk Road; this city celebrated its 2500th anniversary in 1997.
You enter through the gates of Ichon Kala (is the inner town protected by brick walls some 10 m high) and you are in the ancient world. Its walls, minarets, mosques and medressahs preserve the enigma. Here are the names of the sights that you will visit: Islam – Huja Medressa & Minaret, Gates and Ichon Kala walls. Mohammed Amin Khan Medressa and Kalta MinorKuhna Ark Mohammed Rakhim Khan Medressa, Juma Mosque and Minaret, Tosh – Hovli Palace, Pakhlavon Makhmud Mausoleum. One full day is enough to spend in Khiva.
We have much more to say but it impossible to put everything in this short article… But as it is said – “Seeing is believing!”
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