Uzbekistan is a the most populous country in Central Asia and is rich in history, culture, and diversity. The country of magnificent architecture and ancient traditions preserved a unique heritage,Uzbekistan is a mysterious country of the East, where the history of cities gathered in legends, where the sun shines all year round and this reflects the unique nature and beautiful hearts of people.
Uzbekistan is attractive for its rich cultural and historical heritage, unique architecture and art. There are more than 7000 objects of cultural heritage in Uzbekistan, many of which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The historical centers of Samarkand, Bukhara, Shakhrisabz and Khiva. A trip to Uzbekistan is unforgettable experience with the ancient cities, attracting with its unique architecture, monuments of cultural heritage, old shops and artisan’s workshops.
Uzbekistan has been a part of numerous empires and was once the main centre of the Silk Road, making it an excellent destination for the history buff. Experiencing the atmosphere of the ancient Silk Road in Uzbekistan, imagine camels loaded with exotic goods, people dressed in colorful attire, bustling markets and ancient palaces with elaborate decoration. Along with a fascinating and well-preserved history, travelers to Uzbekistan will find plenty of evidence of the Soviet influence on the country’s modern development.
Tourist activities in Uzbekistan range from outdoor activities, such as rock-climbing, to exploration of its rich archeological and religious history. Most tourists are interested in with its architectural and historical sites, also the local culture, way of life, and customs. The ancient historical monuments of Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Shakhrisabz, Khiva, Urgench, Termez, Karakalpakstan are the main foundation of historical and educational tourism in Uzbekistan.
On the territory of Uzbekistan, there are many Holy places belonging to the Islamic culture and its current of Sufism, as well as other religions. The most valuable monuments are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Among them is the city of Bukhara, called in the Islamic world Bukhara-Sharif, which means Blessed Bukhara. The city of Samarkand, which has a huge number of priceless monuments. Shakhrisabz is the birthplace of Amir Temur. Of course, these cities have an ancient and rich history and have undergone significant changes throughout their lives.
The historical center of Samarkand is a World Heritage Site. Samarkand is home to numerous one-of-a-kind cultural and architectural landmarks that are preserved as exemplary works of Islamic art and architecture. Samarkand with its Registan, Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Gur-Emir and Shah-i-Zinda, Bukhara with its Po-i-Kalyan Complex, Ark citadel, Samanid Mausoleum and Lyabi Khauz Ensemble, and Khiva with its intact inner city, Ichan Kala, mosques, madrasahs, minarets, walls, and gates, are sites of tourism.
Tashkent contains sights as Mausothe leum of Sheikh Zaynudin Bobo and the Sheihantaur or Mausoleum of Zangiata. Ancient Khiva is one of the three most important tourism centers in Uzbekistan, with historical, cultural, and ethnographic potential. The territory of the Khorezm Province and Karakalpakstan is strewn with natural, historic, architectural, and archaeological sites. The Khorezm Province itself possesses nearly 300 historic monuments.
One of the best ways to get in touch with the centuries-old history of Uzbekistan and discover a new culture is to visit various museums located in all regions of the country. There are more than 400 different museums in Uzbekistan, of which 155 are state-owned. The main focus is – history, local history, fine and applied art, as well as memorial house-museums of prominent figures of culture and art.
Today, the museums of Uzbekistan store over two million artifacts, evidence of the unique historical, cultural, and spiritual life of the Central Asian peoples that have lived in the region. The most famous large and significant museums of the country are: The State Museum of the History of Uzbekistan, the State Museum of Arts of Uzbekistan, the State Museum of the History of Timurids, the State Museum of Applied Arts of Uzbekistan, the State Museum of Arts of the Republic of Karakalpakstan named after I.V. Savitsky, State Museum of Nature of Uzbekistan and others.
Uzbekistan is famous for its versatility and grandiosity of major holidays, festivals and exhibitions. The most interesting, colorful and informative events in Uzbekistan are festivals, from folk and applied art products and works of fine art to industrial goods. One of the largest events in Uzbekistan is the Tashkent International Tourism fair “Tourism on the Silk road”, “Made in Uzbekistan”, “Food Week Uzbekistan” and others.
In the last few years, the tourism potential of the region has improved with some new facilities and attractions. Using the railway to travel in Uzbekistan is a very convenient and convenient way, especially the country has recently opened high-speed railway line and integrated it with the old line. Road tourism has also become feasible. Uzbekistan has stepped up its efforts in infrastructure construction, and its well-connected road network makes travel more convenient. More and more countries have opened direct flights with the country After the modernization of the airport at Urgench, it received international status.
The Great Silk Road
Location of Uzbekistan in the center of Eurasian continent allowed it to play a key role in the transcontinental system of the Great Silk Roads. In fact, main routes of the Great Silk Roads uniting East and West passed through the territory of present-day Uzbekistan, which was one of the places, where the first civilizations emerged and developed. Uzbekistan’s territory is characterized by fertile land that is intensively developed by humans, by diversity of raw resources, presence of developed city culture, high level of handicraft industry and commodity-money relations. And it is these factors that predetermined main routes over which trade and exchange relations took place.
The famous caravan road “The Great Silk Road” can be called a vivid symbol of the ties between East and West, going back into the depths of centuries. The transcontinental route stretched for 10 thousand kilometers and became a connecting link, uniting the countries of the East with the Mediterranean.The beginning of the functioning of the Great Silk Road dates back to the 2nd century BC and the route operated until the 15th century AD. Of course, thanks to the Silk Road, not only rare goods were distributed, but also a great exchange of knowledge, culture, technology,
The name “The Great Silk Road” is associated with the precious commodity for the Western countries at that time – silk. It is believed that the technology of making silk from silkworm cocoons was discovered on the territory of modern China about five thousand years ago. Gradually, the secret of making silk began to be adopted, and already in the 3rd century AD silk was learned to make in many countries, including Uzbekistan, in the Fergana Valley.
In addition to silk, the caravanners traded in other rare goods. Such precious stones as lapis lazuli from Badakhshan, carnelian from Sogdiana, jade from Khotan and even glass products, the production of which was not established in those distant times in the Eastern Mediterranean.The great silk roadThe term “Silk Road” appeared relatively recently. In 1877, Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen was one of the first to study the map of the trade route in detail and gave it that name. Around the 1st century AD, the Great Silk Road reached its height. The trade road began from the Chinese city of Luoyang in the east, then it passed through numerous Chinese cities and Central Asia, and ended in Italy, in Rome. The track had three directions and numerous branches. The main directions were the North, Central and South roads.
The northern road passed through the Tien Shan mountains along the Tarim River and turned into the Fergana Valley and then between the Central Asian interfluves went into the lower reaches of the Volga to the Greek colonies. On the way, the caravans stopped in cities or in the most picturesque oasis places to relax and sell their goods. So, new cities appeared, and the old ones grew and became even larger. Trade and craft cities flourished on the territory of Uzbekistan: Andijan, Kokand, Bukhara, Shakhrisabz, Samarkand, Khiva.
The southern road passed through the regions of the modern territories of India, Afghanistan and Iran. The central road ran through Persia and the Mediterranean Sea.The Silk Road route became known all over the world, and soon not only caravan men, but also legendary travelers and conquerors began to pass along it. For example, the Italian traveler and merchant Marco Polo, after his journey along the route of the Great Silk Road, created the work “The Book of the World’s Diversity.” Also, the world-famous conqueror Genghis Khan passed along the roads of the Silk Road.
With a lapse of time the routes of the Great Silk Roads became the ones, on which not only trade took place, but also cultural relations were established. Along the Great Silk Roads travelled religious missionaries, scholars, musicians and many other individuals. Thanks to this track, the world has changed in a modern way, and we see it now just like that. Great monument cities with their historical and architectural buildings have become living legends as a reminder from the past.
Reconnaissance and archaeological investigations carried out in the territory of Uzbekistan demonstrate that it is home for dozens of large city centers, related to the antiquity and medieval times, through which the Great Silk Roads passed. The most intensive periods of functioning of the Great Silk Roads in the territory of Uzbekistan can be observed: in ancient times; when Central Asia became part of Turkic Khanate; during developed Middle Ages.
Uzbekistan is a country with predominantly Islamic roots. More than 160 Muslim sacred relics are located in the country. A large number of tourists have been visiting Uzbekistan because of their religious-based interest. Uzbekistan boasts numerous sites of significant importance to Islam, including the Mausoleum of Sheikh Zaynudin Bobo, Sheihantaur, and the Mausoleum of Zangiata in Tashkent, the BahauddinComplex in Bukhara, as well as the Bayan-Quli Khan Mausoleum, Saif ed-Din Bokharzi Mausoleum, and many other Sufism-related monuments.
Uzbek cuisine is, perhaps, one of the most diverse and colorful in the world. Bread is considered holy for the Uzbek people, and enjoy the most delicious pilaf in the world, succulent lamb on charcoal, the tandoor-kebab, the spicy lagman or the crispy samsa… Popular Uzbek cuisine includes the following:
Palov, the Uzbek version of pilaf – is an everyday dish as well as a dish for events like weddings, parties and holidays. Rice is the most important component of palov, along with certain spices, raisins, peas or quince which are added to give it extra flavor.
Soups are of special importance. Uzbek soup is rich with vegetables and seasonings and contains many carrots, turnips, onions and greens. Most popular is Uzbek Shurpa. Shurpa is a meat and vegetable soup.
Shashlyk, also known as kebabs, consists of skewered chunks of mutton barbecued over charcoal and served with sliced raw onions and non (round unleavened bread).
Samsa (meat pies) is a pastry pie stuffed with meat and onion or pumpkin, potato, cabbage, mushrooms or nuts baked in a tandyr. Tandyr is a traditional cylindrical clay oven, heated with coal. Skill is needed when placing the raw samsas or non onto the inside wall of the oven.
Lagman is a thick noodle soup with thinly sliced fried meat and vegetables.
Manty are large dumplings stuffed with finely chopped meat, seasoned with various spices and a large amount of onion, then steamed in a special pot.
Uzbekistan is not significantly relevant to the main wine-growing powers of the world, however, the country has a long history of winemaking and wine culture. It is believed that the first grapes were brought here 6 thousand years ago. And even then in Central Asia there was a high technology of winemaking and growing grapes. The famous Venetian traveler of the middle ages, Marco Polo, who traveled through Central Asia, wrote in his diary: “Samarkand, Bukhara and other wonderful cities are the places decorated with the magnificent gardens and vineyards. I tasted the wine here. This wine was at least a dozen years old, and it amazed with its excellent quality…”
Tashkentvino kombinati is one of the oldest companies in the industry, founded in 1867 on the outskirts of Tashkent, near the shore of the channel Salar. Tashkentvino produces a range of quality spirits. Wine Factory become popular not only in Russia but also abroad. These wines, like “Red Tashkent”, “Oporto”, “Sultan”, “Cahors” won gold and silver medals at the Moscow Polytechnic Exhibition in 1872 and at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1878.
Uzbekistan is not only famous for the architectural monuments included in the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List, not only for the ancient cities, but also for the amazing flora and fauna, picturesque mountains, caves, deserts and crystal-clear lakes, rivers and waterfalls. Enjoy the picturesque nature and unique protected areas of Uzbekistan, the fauna of rare animals and birds, visit the national parks and reserves.
In Uzbekistan, Ecotourism can be desert safari tours, trips to glaciers, tours to unique mountain zones, trips to nature reserves and national parks. The tourism opportunities of Uzbekistan are very diverse and rich: these are Ugam-Chatkal National Park, and the tugai forests in the Amu Darya River Delta, the Kitab Nature Reserve, recently opened for tourists, testifying to the appearance of life on our planet, the region of the “ecological catastrophe” near the Aral Sea, steppe areas and the Kyzylkum desert, Nurata mountains and Aydarkul Lake, and many other wonders of our nature.
The desert fauna of Kyzyl Kum includes many kinds of rare animals. There is a Kyzyl Kum nature reserve at the flood-land (tugai) drained by the Amu-Darya. Another reserve (eco-centre) “Djeyran” is located 40 km to the south of Bukhara. The region of the Aydar Lake is an area of potential for fishing, yurting and camel-back riding toas urist activities. In addition to fauna common for toyl Kum, there are many kinds of water birds migrthat migratem Aralthe Sea thatande their homes around the lake. Many sorts of fish were introduced to the Aydar Lake, which nowadays works as a source of industrial fishing.
Another point of interest the Sarmish Gorge (Betbettenown as Sarmishsay) is,ca loed on the southern slopes of the Karatau mountain range, 30–40 km to the north-east of the city of Navoi (Kermine) in Uzbekistan. This place is famous for various ancient monuments of anthropogenic activity concentrated in an area of about 20 km2. The sights include flint quarries, mines, old settlements, burial mounds, crypts an,,d etroglyphs, including monuments of the Middle Ages, early Iron Age, Bronze Age and even the Stone Age. There are over 4,000 petroglyphs still intact in Sarmishsay. Since ancient times th,,isterritory has been a sacred zone, wreh locals performed their sacred ceremonies on holy days.
Since many towns were involved in the ancient business travel trade, there is no fixed route for Silk Road tourism, and tourists can choose to visit several bustling ancient towns. Visit the important towns and regions of Uzbekistan’s Silk Road, a trip to discover the ancient architectural wonders of Samarkand and Bukhara as well as the Kyzyl Kum Desert, where you can stay in a traditional yurt camp or trek on camels. The journey takes you on a wonderful circuit, starting in Tashkent in Uzbekistan, exploring the country’s Silk Road highlights, then into Turkmenistan, and finally back into the north of Uzbekistan to visit Khiva.
Another option for exploring the Silk Road is to travel by luxury train, on a private charter that takes you from Tashkent in Uzbekistan, through Turkmenistan and then completing your silky sojourn in Tehran, in Iran. This is just about the most out-of-this-world way to explore this historic route, giving you time to hop off and explore each important city along the way, as you wine and dine your way across the region in style.
Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan and also the largest city in Central Asia. For many years, Tashkent has been the most important business and cultural center of the country, attracting tourists and businessmen from various countries of the world. In 2007, Tashkent was named a “cultural capital of the Islamic world” by Moscow News, as the city has numerous historic mosques and significant Islamic sites, including the Islamic University.
Tashkent is noted for its tree-lined streets, numerous fountains, and pleasant parks. Since 1991, the city has changed economically, culturally, and architecturally. New development has superseded or replaced icons of the Soviet era. Buildings from the Soviet era have been replaced with new modern buildings. The “Downtown Tashkent” district includes the 22-story NBU Bank building, international hotels, the International Business Center, and the Plaza Building.
The Tashkent Business district is a special district, established for the development of small, medium and large businesses in Uzbekistan. In 2018, was started to build a Tashkent city (new Downtown) which would include a new business district with skyscrapers of local and foreign companies, world hotels such as Hilton Tashkent Hotel, apartments, biggest malls, shops and other entertainments. The construction of the International Business Center is planned to be completed by the end of 2021.
Due to the destruction of most of the ancient city during the 1917 revolution and, later, the 1966 earthquake, little remains of Tashkent’s traditional architectural heritage. Tashkent is, however, rich in museums and Soviet-era monuments. They include:
Kukeldash Madrasah. Dating back to the reign of Abdullah Khan II (1557–1598) it is being restored by the provincial Religious Board of Mawarannahr Moslems. There is talk of making it into a museum, but it is currently being used as a madrassah.
Chorsu Bazaar, located near the Kukeldash Madrassa. This huge open air bazaar is the center of the old town of Tashkent. Everything imaginable is for sale. It is one of the major tourist attractions of the city.
Hazrati Imam Complex. It includes several mosques, shrine, and a library which contains a manuscript Qur’an in Kufic script, considered to be the oldest extant Qur’an in the world. Dating from 655 and stained with the blood of murdered caliph, Uthman, it was brought by Timur to Samarkand, seized by the Russians as a war trophy and taken to Saint Petersburg. It was returned to Uzbekistan in 1924.
Yunus Khan Mausoleum. It is a group of three 15th-century mausoleums, restored in the 19th century. The biggest is the grave of Yunus Khan, grandfather of Mughal Empire founder Babur.
Palace of Prince Romanov. During the 19th century Grand Duke Nikolai Konstantinovich, a first cousin of Alexander III of Russia was banished to Tashkent for some shady deals involving the Russian Crown Jewels. His palace still survives in the centre of the city. Once a museum, it has been appropriated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre, built by the same architect who designed Lenin’s Tomb in Moscow, Aleksey Shchusev, with Japanese prisoner of war labor in World War II. It hosts Russian ballet and opera.
Fine Arts Museum of Uzbekistan. It contains a major collection of art from the pre-Russian period, including Sogdian murals, Buddhist statues and Zoroastrian art, along with a more modern collection of 19th and 20th century applied art, such as suzani embroidered hangings. Of more interest is the large collection of paintings “borrowed” from the Hermitage by Grand Duke Romanov to decorate his palace in exile in Tashkent, and never returned. Behind the museum is a small park, containing the neglected graves of the Bolsheviks who died in the Russian Revolution of 1917 and to Osipov’s treachery in 1919, along with first Uzbekistani President Yuldosh Akhunbabayev.
Museum of Applied Arts. Housed in a traditional house originally commissioned for a wealthy tsarist diplomat, the house itself is the main attraction, rather than its collection of 19th and 20th century applied arts.
State Museum of History of Uzbekistan the largest museum in the city. It is housed in the ex-Lenin Museum.
Amir Timur Museum, housed in a building with brilliant blue dome and ornate interior. It houses exhibits of Timur and of President Islam Karimov. To adjacent south of the museum is Amir Timur Square where there is a statue of Timur on horseback, surrounded by some of the nicest gardens and fountains in the city.
Navoi Literary Museum, commemorating Uzbekistan’s adopted literary hero, Alisher Navoi, with replica manuscripts, Islamic calligraphy and 15th century miniature paintings.
The Tashkent Metro is known for extravagant design and architecture in the buildings. Taking photos in the system was banned until 2018.
The Russian Orthodox church in Amir Temur Square, built in 1898, was demolished in 2009. The building had not been allowed to be used for religious purposes since the 1920s due to the anti-religious campaign conducted across the former Soviet Union by the Bolshevik (communist) government in Moscow. During the Soviet period the building was used for different non-religious purposes; after independence it was a bank.
Ahsikent was the largest political, economic and cultural center of the Ferghana Valley in the IX-XIII centuries. At the time the mint of the city introduced coins on behalf of Samanid and Karakhanid governors. However, the city fell to desolation at the beginning of the XIII century. Subsequently, as result of the military campaign of Tatar-Mongols the city was completely destroyed. After Ahsikent the road went along Syr Darya River and the city of Bap (Pap) to Khodjent. In Khodjent one of its branches went further along Syr Darya River, turned to the north and entered the steppe and Tashkent oasis.
One of the most ancient and largest city centers of Chach (Tashkent Oasis) is Kanka, located 70 km to the south-east of Tashkent and 8 km to the east of the right bank of Syr Darya. The city was the first capital of Chach. Kanka was founded on the left bank of the ancient bed of Akhangaran River, which once flowed into Syr Darya. Total area of the ancient site is not less than 400 ha. It consists of heavily-protected citadel, which is 40 m in height, as well as three shahristans and rabad, which are fortified with strong defensive walls. In the terrain of the ancient site it is possible clearly to observe mains streets, market squares, handicraft quarters, individual residential areas and caravanserais. Kanka is also known under the name of Kharashkent, in other words “the city of farna” (the fact mentioned in medieval Arabic and Persian sources).
The excavations demonstrated that the city emerged in place of the settlement belonging to the middle of the I millennium B.C. and was intensively inhabited until XII century A.D. Initial core of the city was located in place of the medieval citadel, where a complex system of defensive walls as well as some ceramic wares, typical for Hellenistic period, were found. The next stage in the evolution of the city is associated with the ruling period of Kangju state. Kanka becomes the capital of Yuni possession and of the whole Kangju (III century B.C. – III century A.D.). During this stage large-scale city-planning works take place, monumental royal and cult buildings are erected in the city. Furthermore, handicraft industry is given a renewed momentum, the assortment of the products expands, commodity and money relations develop rapidly. Chach mints its own coins, which are used far beyond the borders of the region. Coins of China and Sogd were found in Kanka, which point to its close trade and cultural relations with neighboring states.
Further growth of the city is associated with its becoming part of Turkic Khanate in the middle of the VI century A.D. Initially Kanka retains its status of political and economic center of Chach Oasis. However, after unsuccessful attempt of the residents of Chach to secede from Western Turkic Khanate in the VIII century A.D., the capital was transferred to the territory of Tashkent. As a result of this habitable area of the city gets reduced. Nonetheless, the city continues to play the role of large economic center of the region and already by the VIII century the life gets normalized here. Moreover, new manufacturing areas begin to be mastered, associated with different branches of handicrafts.
The next stage in the flourishing of the city relates to the XI-XII centuries, i.e. during the ruling period of Samanids and Karakhanids. During this period the city was known as Kharashkent. According to Arabic and Persian sources, it was considered as the second important city from among city centers of Tashkent Oasis after Binkent. During this period the area of the city gets expanded and covers almost 400 ha.
A very interesting architectural complex of palace-like nature relating to Karakhanids period was explored in the citadel, residential areas, manufacturing centers and trade shops in the territory of shahristan I and II were studied. Also, a very interesting urban caravanserai was excavated, etc. New materials were obtained concerning civil engineering. The archaeological objects and materials, which were found, point to a high-level of material and spiritual culture of the city people in the IX-XIII centuries. These are wonderful glazed ceramic wares, goods made of glass, and items of toreutics, adornments made from various semiprecious stones and metals, chess pieces and coins. At the end of the XI century life in the city declines because Ahangaran river, which was feeding the city with water, changes its bed. The residents of the city move to Benakent located right on Syr Darya riverside.
Throughout its history, thanks to the international route was closely linked to and practiced active trade relation with China, nomadic steppe and various cities of Sogd and Ferghana.
Khiva is a beautiful oasis city with ancient walls, minarets and unique clay buildings. According to archaeological data, the city was established around 1500 years ago. It is the former capital of Khwarezmia, the Khanate of Khiva, and the Khorezm People’s Soviet Republic. Itchan Kala in Khiva was the first site in Uzbekistan to be inscribed in the World Heritage List (1991). The astronomer, historian and polymath, Al-Biruni (973–1048 CE) was born in either Khiva or the nearby city of Kath.
Khiva is split into two parts. The outer town, called Dichan Kala, was formerly protected by a wall with 11 gates. The inner town, or Itchan Kala, is encircled by brick walls, whose foundations are believed to have been laid in the 10th century. Present-day crenellated walls date back to the late 17th century and attain the height of 10 meters. The old town retains more than 50 historic monuments and 250 old houses, mostly dating from the 18th or the 19th centuries. Djuma Mosque, for instance, was established in the 10th century and rebuilt in 1788–89, although its celebrated hypostyle hall still retains 112 columns taken from ancient structures.
Kalta Minor, the large blue tower in the central city square, was supposed to be a minaret. It was built in 1851 by Mohammed Amin Khan, but the Khan died and the succeeding Khan did not complete it. Khiva was a home to a number of madrassahs (educational establishments), one of which, Sherghazi Khan madrassah, still stands today. It was built in the 18th century by slaves and is one of the oldest buildings in Ichan-Kala, that is the center of present-day Khiva. Among the renowned students of the madrassah were the Uzbek poet Raunaq, the Qaraqalpaq poet Kasybayuly, the Turkmen poet and sufi Magtymguly.
Muynak was one of the largest fishing cities in Central Asia. Here was clear water with river fish, wonderful beaches with numerous recreation areas. Now the city is located by the dry sea, and once it was possible to get to the city only by sea or by plane. Formerly a sea port on the Aral Sea, it is now 150 km from the water in the Aralkum Desert and thus is a disaster tourism destination. It is also the location for the biggest electronic music festival in Central Asia.
The Aral Sea Memorial is in the north end of Moynaq, amongst the rusting skeletons of the former fishing fleet. This ships’ graveyard is a reminder of the economic impact of the shrinking of the Aral Sea, which is often overlooked in discussion about the environmental disaster. Moynaq Museum has paintings and photographs of the town in its more prosperous days. The exhibits demonstrate the wealth and importance of the place, not only due to fishing but also other industries such as fur farming and rush mat manufacturing.
Stihia Festival, the largest electronic music festival in Central Asia, has been held in Moynaq annually since 2018. Described by Vice Media as “a techno rave in an abandoned ship graveyard,” the 2019 event attracted 10,000 people, as well as some of the best DJs in Uzbekistan and Europe. In 2022, the event was very successful, despite sandstorms. Stihia means “an unstoppable force of nature” and it is a reference to both the Aral Sea environmental disaster and the power of music to bring people together. The festival is a collaboration of musicians, artists, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs, and Stihia N+1, a series of talks about arts, science, and technology, runs alongside the music event.
The city is best known for its world-class Nukus Museum of Art. Nukus is host to the Nukus Museum of Art and State Museum. The State Museum houses the usual collection of artifacts recovered from archaeological investigations, traditional jewelry, costumes and musical instruments, displays of the area’s now vanished or endangered flora and fauna, and on the Aral Sea issue. The Art Museum is noted for its collection of modern Russian and Uzbek art from 1918 to 1935.
Nukus is also home to the Amet and Ayimkhan Shamuratovs house museum, a hub for Karakalpak music and oral culture. The museum’s collection represents personal belongings of the Shamuratovs including stage clothes, photographs, manuscripts, books, letters.
Namangan has been an important craft and trade center in the Fergana Valley since the 17th century. Namangan is mainly a center for light industry, especially in food. Located in the centre of the city, Babur Park was created in the late 19th century as the private garden of Namangan’s Russian governor, but it is now open to the public. The park is named after Emperor Babur, who was born in the Fergana Valley, and it is known for its many old chinor trees.
The Mullah Kyrgyz Madrassa, built 1910, is named after a local architect, Usto Kyrgyz. Founded by a wealthy cotton magnate from Namangan, it was closed by the Soviets and spent much of the 20th century as a literary museum. The madrassa was restored by local residents following independence and it is listed as an historic monument. The madrassa’s minarets and portal have been completely restored, and the white, blue, yellow, and green mosaic tiles are particularly beautiful. There is carved woodwork on both the ceilings and the columns, including some finely carved calligraphy. Inside is a small courtyard surrounded by 35 rooms, which would have housed nearly 150 students.
The Khodjamni Kabri Mausoleum and neighbouring Khodja Amin Mosque both date from the 1720s and are the work of local architect Usto Muhammad Ibrahim. They have both recently been renovated. Opened on all four sides, the portal-domed mosque hosts intricate terracotta tilework which was produced using a method which was commonplace in the 12th century but had disappeared in the Fergana Valley. The buildings are open for prayer, but only men may enter.
Built in 1915, the Ota Valikhon Tur Mosque is located 1 km east of Namangan’s bazaar. Arabic calligraphy adorns the brickwork on the exterior, with gorgeous star-shaped carvings. The large domes are decorated with blue mosaic stripes. This mosque was linked with the controversial Wahhabi sect during the 1990s and received funding from Saudi Arabia before it was closed by the Uzbek government. It is now a gallery of the Namangan Artists’ Union, displaying the work of local artists.
Qarshi is also famous for its production of woven flat carpets. Odina Mosque. Odina Mosque was built in the 16th century and is on the southeast side of Qarshi’s Eski Bazaar. The mosque was built on the site of an older Mongol palace, which had also been used as a prison. The mosque has an attractive domed exterior, and also a sardoba, a domed reservoir which stopped the water supply becoming contaminated or evaporating. It is no longer used for worship but instead houses Qarshi’s Regional Museum.
Kok Gumbaz (which means “blue dome”) is Qarshi’s Friday Mosque. It is the largest such mosque in the region, and was constructed by Emperor Ulugbek on behalf of his father, Shah Rukh, in the late 16th century. Kok Gumbaz is architecturally quite similar to other Timurid mosques, including in Shakhrisabz, but it has been less heavily restored, so more of the original features remain intact.
Samarkand or Samarqand is a city in southeastern Uzbekistan and among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia. The cultural heritage of Samarkand is quite large, for many centuries the city has been a key centre of the Great Silk Road. At the beginning of the XXI century, the city was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List under the name “Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures”.
From Khodjent, main route of the Great Silk Roads went to the West, and through Khavas, Zomin and Jizzakh caravans reached the city of Samarkand (the capital of Sogd), which justifiably received the title of “The Heart of the Great Silk Roads”. The greatest poets and philosophers of the world have given the city many names – the garden of the soul, the pearl of the east, the mirror of the world and even the face of the earth. However, they was not be able to describe the beauty and richness of this beautiful city.
Samarkand throughout its centuries-long history experienced the times of rise and fall, was subject to devastating incursions of foreign invaders. And every time it revived itself, and became more beautiful and magnificent. In the East, since olden times it was called as “The Pearl of Great Worth”, “Image of the Earth”, “Eden of the East”, “Rome of the East”, “The Blessed City”. And it received such epithets thanks to its ancient history, high culture, majestic architectural monuments, wonderful goods created by its craftsmen, great scholars and thinkers, special role it played in the lives of Central Asian and world powers of ancient and medieval times, and of course, due to picturesque nature and its gifts.
The most ancient cradle of Samarkand is the site of Afrosiyob, located in the northern part of the modern city. Its total area equals 220 ha. Archaeological studies conducted here allowed identifying its age – 2750 years old. Here magnificent palaces of Samarkand rules of early Middle ages, of Samanid and Karakhanid times, a cathedral mosque, large residential complexes, craft centers and many others were discovered and studied. Archaeological objects found here point to a high-level of artistic culture of the population throughout the whole history of the city.
The city is noted as a centre of Islamic scholarly study and the birthplace of the Timurid Renaissance. In the 14th century, Timur (Tamerlane) made it the capital of his empire and the site of his mausoleum, the Gur-e Amir. The Bibi-Khanym Mosque, rebuilt during the Soviet era, remains one of the city’s most notable landmarks. Samarkand’s Registan square was the city’s ancient centre and is bounded by three monumental religious buildings. The city has carefully preserved the traditions of ancient crafts: embroidery, goldwork, silk weaving, copper engraving, ceramics, wood carving, and wood painting.
In 2001, UNESCO added the city to its World Heritage List as Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures. Modern Samarkand is divided into two parts: the old city, and the new city, which was developed during the days of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union. The old city includes historical monuments, shops, and old private houses; the new city includes administrative buildings along with cultural centres and educational institutions.
The best-known landmark of Samarkand is the mausoleum known as Gur-i Amir. It exhibits the influences of many cultures, past civilizations, neighboring peoples, and religions, especially those of Islam. Despite the devastation wrought by Mongols to Samarkand’s pre-Timurid Islamic architecture, under Timur these architectural styles were revived, recreated, and restored. The blueprint and layout of the mosque itself, with their precise measurements, demonstrate the Islamic passion for geometry. The entrance to the Gur-i Amir is decorated with Arabic calligraphy and inscriptions, the latter a common feature in Islamic architecture. Timur’s meticulous attention to detail is especially obvious inside the mausoleum: the tiled walls are a marvelous example of mosaic faience, an Iranian technique in which each tile is cut, colored, and fit into place individually. The tiles of the Gur-i Amir were also arranged so that they spell out religious words such as “Muhammad” and “Allah.”
The ornamentation of the Gur-i Amir’s walls includes floral and vegetal motifs, which signify gardens; the floor tiles feature uninterrupted floral patterns. In Islam, gardens are symbols of paradise, and as such, they were depicted on the walls of tombs and grown in Samarkand itself. Samarkand boasted two major gardens, the New Garden and the Garden of Heart’s Delight, which became the central areas of entertainment for ambassadors and important guests. In 1218, a friend of Genghis Khan named Yelü Chucai reported that Samarkand was the most beautiful city of all, as “it was surrounded by numerous gardens. Every household had a garden, and all the gardens were well designed, with canals and water fountains that supplied water to round or square-shaped ponds. The landscape included rows of willows and cypress trees, and peach and plum orchards were shoulder to shoulder.” Persian carpets with floral patterns have also been found in some Timurid buildings.
The elements of traditional Islamic architecture can be seen in traditional mud-brick Uzbek houses that are built around central courtyards with gardens. Most of these houses have painted wooden ceilings and walls. By contrast, houses in the west of the city are chiefly European-style homes built in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Eternal city situated in Silk Road Samarkand complex. This site which occupies 17 hectares accurately recreates the spirit of the ancient city backed up by the history and traditions of Uzbek lands and Uzbek people for the guests of the Silk Road Samarkand. The narrow streets here house multiple shops of artists, artisans, and craftsmen. The pavilions of the Eternal City were inspired by real houses and picturesque squares described in ancient books. This is where you can plunge into a beautiful oriental fairy tale: with turquoise domes, mosaics on palaces, and high minarets that pierce the sky.
Visitors to the Eternal City can taste national dishes from different eras and regions of the country and also see authentic street performances. The Eternal City showcases a unique mix of Parthian, Hellenistic, and Islamic cultures so that the guests could imagine the versatile heritage of bygone centuries in full splendor. The project was inspired and designed by Bobur Ismoilov, a famous modern artist.
From Samarkand the route of the Great Silk Roads led to another capital city of Mawarannahr, i.e. the city of Bukhara. And the route between these two cities in the medieval times was called as “Shohrukh” or “Royal Route”. Medieval authors noted that the distance between Samarkand and Bukhara represented 37 farsakhs, so caravans could cover it within 6-7 days. The road passed through densely populated territory of Samarkand Oasis. After Samarkand, caravans went to the city of Rabidjan (Rabinjan) and then to Dabusiya and approached to Karmana and Rabati Malik, located right near the steppe. From Rabati Malik the road went through the steppe, passed the towns of Tavavmsark and Vobkent and led to Bukhara. In Bukhara one branch went to the north, to the oases of Khoresm through Varakhsha, another one – to the west, to Poykend, and further – to Merv. Caravans covered the distance from Bukhara to Poykend in one day.
The largest as well as the shortest trade route, which was uniting Bukhara with Merv, passed through Poykend, located on the border with desert areas, 55 km to the south-west of Bukhara (Pic.) Caravans covered this distance in four days (about 20 farsakhs). Ruins of Poykend, in terms of planning structure, represent a rectangle, which stretches from East to West. Total area of the ancient site is 18 ha. Poykend structurally consists of a citadel and two shahristans. Around the city, except for its northern side, there are ruins of many rabads – caravanserais. The citadel with total area of 1 ha is located in the north-eastern part of the city. It was once surrounded by heavily-fortified walls, flanked by projecting towers, and a deep moat. The ruins of the citadel have survived to a height of about 20 m. Shahristan of the city has fortified defensive walls with eight square-shaped projecting towers, which have rectangular loopholes.
Near Poykand there was a large lake, into which Sogd River (Zarafshan River) flowed. Also he informs that all residents of Poykand were merchants. They traded with China, were engaged in maritime trade, and therefore were very rich. Narshakhi also mentions about the epithet, which was given to the city – “Shahristoni roin” (“Bronze Shahristan”). The most intensive growth period of the city falls on the Early Middle Ages. It appears that is was due to intensification of relations on caravan routes and strengthening of the role of the city in this process.
Al-Tabari, Al-Khordarbek and Al-Fakih mention another epithet of the city – “Madina al-tudjor” (“The town of merchants”). The sources have preserved valuable information concerning the history and historical topography of the city. Of particular interest is the information provided by al-Maqdisi, who informs that “Boykent is located near Jayhun (Amu Darya) on the border with the desert; it has a citadel with one entrance, inside it there is a crowded bazaar and a mosque, in the mihrab of which there are precious stones; at its foot there are suburbs (rabad), in which there is bazaar”. He also provides a list of goods manufactured in Poykend, which were meant for selling. These were various types of soft fabrics, prayer rugs, copper lamps, horse munitions, sheepskin, fat, etc.
Poykend was one of the richest cities in Mawarannahr, it is one of the few monuments of Uzbekistan, where continuous investigations have been taking place already for several decades. These archaeological works gained a new momentum and rose to a new level during Independence years. As such, fortification systems of the city were studied, public and residential areas, crafts and manufacturing quarters, caravanserais and many other objects were excavated. All these illustrate peculiarities in the development of city planning of Poykend and its surroundings. Found archaeological objects allowed to reconstruct the life and habits existing within the city at different stages of its existence, especially during the last stage.
Erection of the stronghold in this place is associated with vicinity of caravan routes; with the aim of exercising control over strategically important section, i.e. crossing over Amu Darya, through which goods arrived from west to east and vice versa. The city near river crossing was the resting place for caravans before they journeyed further. And it is exactly this advantageous location of the city that became one of the sources of its economic strength. In the IV-V centuries A.D. the first shahristan of the city gets formed. In the V-VII centuries it includes new territories with emergence of the second shahristan. It bears mentioning that during excavation works, along with ceramic wares, terracotta figurines, items made of iron, etc., Chinese bronze coins of Tan dynasty were found.
At the beginning of the VIII century A.D. Poykend was significantly damaged during Arabs’ campaign to Sogd. The traces of this destruction were clearly identified during archaeological works. The results of these works also demonstrated that the Arab conquest, creation of a large centralized state, the Arab Caliphate, and assuming of power by representatives of local nobility on site, had a positive impact on consequent political and economic life of the city.
Poykend within short period of time freed itself and recovered its status. Ceramic wares and glass items of Poykand in terms of quality and artistic design could compete with those manufactured in various handicraft centers. Here the most ancient drugstore in the whole Mawarannahr was discovered. At the end of the X century A.D. the city gradually declines. Soon the life in Poykend fades away. This was associated with shallowing of Zarafshan River, the water of which, since olden times, had been feeding the city and its surroundings.
Termez is the Center for Ancient Civilizations and ReligionsPopular landmarks. It is notable as the site of Alexander the Great’s city Alexandria on the Oxus, as a center of early Buddhism, as a site of Muslim pilgrimage, and as a base of Soviet Union military operations in Afghanistan, accessible via the nearby Hairatan border crossing. In the most southern city of Uzbekistan, many unique monuments and interesting places have been preserved.
One of the active routes of the Great Silk Roads from Samarkand went to the south-west, in the direction of Kesh and near Guzar turned to the south, in the direction of mountainous region, and through the passage of Akrabat reached “Dar-i-ahanin” (“Iron Gates”), where there was a border between Sogd and Bactria. Here there was a border between Kangju and Kushan Empire. From “Dar-i-ahanin” (“Iron Gates”) the road went along Sherobod Darya and led to the city of Sherobod, located on the flatland, from where it went further to the south, to the Valley of Amu Darya and the city of Termez. Termez was one of the most ancient and largest cities of the East. The ancient name of the city was Tarmita. Chinese traveler and pilgrim, Xuanzang, who visited the city in 630 A.D., calls it Tami.
Termez Archaeological Museum opened in 2002 to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of Termez. It exhibits archaeological finds and other historic artefacts from sites across Surxondaryo Region. The modern building has a turquoise domed roof and an attractively tiled facade. It is one of the largest and best museums in Uzbekistan. There are around 27,000 items in the collection.
Much of the museum’s collection focuses on Termez’s Buddhist history, in particular the Graeco-Bactrian and Kushan eras. There are scale models of archeological sites including Kampir Tepe, Fayaz Tepe, and Khalchayan; and magnificent wall paintings and sculptures, as well as coins, ceramics, and even ancient chess sets.
Kyr Kyz (The 40 Girls Fortress) takes its name from a Central Asian legend about a princess and her 40 companions who defended their land against invaders. Although this monument is called a fortress, archeologists believe it was actually either a caravanserai or a summer palace. It was built during the 9th century in the Samanid period. Although it is now in ruins, it is still possible to see the 54m long mud brick walls, which in places are two storeys high. One section has been restored so you are able to compare the old and the new.
The Al Hakim At-Termizi architectural complex dates from the 10th to 15th centuries. It is centred on the mud brick mausoleum of Al Hakim At-Termizi, a Sufi saint, jurist, and writer who died in Termez in 859. The site was expanded and improved at the instigation of Timur’s son, Shah Rukh, in the 15th century.
The Sultan Saodat architectural ensemble developed in stages between the 10th and 17th centuries. It was the family necropolis of the Termez Sayyids, a politically and religiously influential local dynasty which claimed descent from Ali. There are approximately 120 graves in the complex, as well as a number of religious buildings. The mortar holding the mud bricks together is an unusual mixture of clay, egg yolk, camels’ blood, and milk. There are pre-Islamic decorative symbols on some of the buildings, including a Zorastrian star motif which represents infinity and fertility.
The Kokil Dara Khanagha was built by Abdullah Khan II of Bukhara in the 16th century. The building was created as a resting place for itinerant Sufi dervishes and other holy men. It has cultural links with various buildings in Afghanistan, including the styling of the vaulted ceiling. There is no central courtyard as this order of Sufis didn’t whirl, but instead focused on quiet, solitary meditation.
Kara Tepe is a rock cut Buddhist temple complex founded in the 2nd century AD on the hills outside Termez. It is right on the Uzbek–Afghan border, and so a permit is required to visit. The site includes cave cells (which were used as burial sites once the temple was abandoned in the 4th century), a series of brick buildings, and small stupas. It is similar in design to other Buddhist temples built in Gandhara.
Fayaz Tepe is a Buddhist monastery, most of which dates from the 1st to 3rd centuries AD. The main stupa (which is now encased in a protective dome) could be much older. Fayaz Tepe was a regionally important site, attracting Buddhist scholars from along the Silk Road, as is evidenced by pottery finds inscribed with Brahmi, Punjabi, Kharosthi, and Bactrian scripts. The Buddhist frescoes excavated here are now on display in the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan in Tashkent.
The Zurmala Stupa is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Uzbekistan, dating from the 1st to 2nd centuries AD. Its brick structure is 16m high and is the only remaining part of a vast Buddhist stupa which would have been originally clad in stone and richly decorated.
Kampir Tepe was a substantial city built on the Amu Darya river by Alexander the Great. Known as Alexandria on the Oxus, the city had an important harbour with a lighthouse, as well as a citadel, temples, and a gateway that is a replica of one found in Pamphylia in Turkey. The site is still being excavated by archeologists but is open to the public.
Shakhrisabz is one of the most ancient and picturesque cities of Uzbekistan. Historically known as Kesh or Kish, Shahrisabz was once a major city of Central Asia and was an important urban center of Sogdiana, a province of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. It is primarily known today as the birthplace of 14th-century Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur. The city with its green trees and flowers rightfully got its name “Green City”. Its historical centre is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Arriving to Shakhrisabz, you should definitely see the ruins of the ancient Ak-Saray Palace, the Kok-Gumbaz mosque, the Dor-ut Tilovat memorial complex, and the mausoleums of Dor-us Saodat, Shamsad-Din Kulala, Gumbazi-Seyidan.
Ak-Saray Palace – Timur’s Summer Palace, the “White Palace” was planned as the most grandiose of all Timur’s constructions. It was started in 1380 by artisans deported by Timur from the recently conquered Khwarezm. Unfortunately, only parts of its gigantic 65 m gate-towers survive, with blue, white and gold mosaics. Above the entry of the Ak-Saray are big letters saying: “If you challenge our power – look at our buildings!”
Kok Gumbaz Mosque / Dorut Tilovat (Dorut Tilavat) Complex – A Friday mosque built in 1437 by Ulugh Beg in honor of his father Shah Rukh, its name meaning “Blue Dome”. Located immediately behind the Kok Gumbaz Mosque is the so-called “House of Meditation”, a mausoleum built by Ulugh Beg in 1438 but apparently never used for burials.
Hazrat-i Imam Complex – East of the Kok Gumbaz is another mausoleum complex called Dorus-Saodat (Seat of Power and Might), which contains the Tomb of Jehangir, Timur’s eldest and favorite son. The adjacent mosque is said to house the tomb of a revered 8th century imam Amir Kulal.
Tomb of Timur – Behind the Hazrat-i Imam Emsemble is a bunker with a door leading to an underground chamber, discovered by archaeologists in 1943. The room is nearly filled with a single stone casket, on which inscriptions indicate that it was intended for Timur. However, the conqueror was buried in Samarkand, not at Shahrisabz, and mysteriously, his tomb in Shahrisabz contained two unidentified corpses.
Zaamin State Nature Reserve is located on a vast territory, including Bakhmal forestry, Zaamin forestry, Zaamin Natural Park, with a total area of 26,840 hectares. The fabulous landscapes and the purest mountain air, a variety of fauna and flora, the ancient places for pilgrimage and a unique national health resort all are Zaamin.
The Nurata ridges surround the southern and partly western part of the oasis and provide a temperate climate, as well as give the originality of the relief and natural beauty to the Aidar-Arnasay lakes system in the north of the region. “Zaamin” Sanatorium is located at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level in the Zaamin National Park health. The cleanest air, mountain landscapes, and coniferous trees – all this creates the best conditions for conducting wellness procedures for adults and children.
In the Zaamin district, in one of the most beautiful gorges of the Morguzar mountain range, you can visit the unique Teshiktosh cave and the tomb here, popularly named as “Parpi oyyim”. It is located near the Teshiktosh hole. This place is especially popular among women planning maternity.