While Uzbekistan may not be a popular holiday destination, the country is fast becoming a choice for many thanks to its attractive Silk Road cities. Bring up the topic of the Silk Road and we immediately think of large markets, imposing minarets, and camels carrying products ready to be sold.
If you’re interested in the Silk Road, Uzbekistan is the ideal place to explore some of its most important cities. Bukhara, Samarkand, and Khiva were three of the main pit stop cities for traders with all three retaining much of their splendor from that time. But Silk Road influence is not the only thing visitors will find in Uzbekistan. Due to the country’s recent history, traveling around the country will reveal Soviet influence as the country was ruled by the Soviet Communist Party for over 75 years.
Those looking to visit Samarkand should acquaint themselves with the name Tamerlane. Tamerlane was a Turkic ruler who reigned during the 14th century and is notably known for his remarkable transformation of Samarkand. With Samarkand part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, the city attracts the masses who come here to appreciate the grand architecture, unique culture, and rich history. The best part about Samarkand is that many of the city’s attractions can be visited within a few days. However, if you’re there for a day, we highly recommend visiting the Bibi Khanym Mosque which was once one of the largest mosques in the world. For those able to stick around for a few days or longer, we recommend climbing one of the city’s minarets and mixing with the locals at the Siyob Bazar – the largest in Samarkand.
Steeped in history, Bukhara was mostly associated with knowledge, learning and scholars. During the Golden Age, the city of Bukhara reached its peak by producing scholars such as Imam al-Bukhari – a familiar name for Muslims around the world! The city can be explored on foot at one’s own pace as visitors marvel at some of the oldest and most important monuments in all of Central Asia. The city is replete with mosques, madrassas and a marketplace which is almost the perfect stage to travel back in time. Bukhara, in comparison to Samarkand, fortunately, retains a more historical atmosphere which is why history buffs tend to spend more time here. Be sure to visit a domed marketplace, Kalon Minaret, Char Minar Mosque, and the recently developed Minor Mosque.
Khiva was regarded as one of the most important cities and trade hubs along the Silk Road. Although it is the least visited of all three major Silk Road cities, visitors that come here leave with unforgettable memories. A must-see in the city is the Old City of Khiva which has been likened by many to an open-air Silk Road museum. With mosques, historic structures and many teahouses, Khiva’s Old City stands as it did between the 17th and 19th centuries.
The 10th-century walls surrounding the Old City have many stories to tell as they protected the streets of Ichan-Kala and its people. Today, the Old City has become a tourist magnet with an extremely contrasting environment, as travellers roam the streets and businessmen make sales using ancient selling methods.
Main Image Credit, Dmitriy Efimov – Unsplash