Thursday, January 14, 2010

Visit Uzbekistan

Photo: Top of a Cupola - Tashkent

Uzbekistan has a long and magnificent history - located between the two great rivers the Amudarya and Syrdarya Rivers and is one of the cradles of world civilization. It is the home of some of the world's oldest sedentary populations and several of its most ancient cities.

Beginning at the height of the Roman Empire, the region was a crossroads on the transcontinental trade routes between China and the West, the most important being the legendary Silk Road.

Subject to constant invasion and to imigration of nomads from the great grasslands to the north, being shaped by each conquests, today Uzbekistan is a land where many peoples with different traditions and customs came, and eventially came together as one.

It has seen endless number of rulers and empires. The famed trio Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane all ruled these lands. Arabs brought Islam where it prospered. Later on the lands divided into the Khanates of Bukhara, Khiva and Kokand, before being absorbed into Tsarist Russia and then as part of the Soviet Union after the revolution of 1917, before once again becoming an independent state in the year 1991.

The three UNESCO listed ancient cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, situated along the ancient Silk Road linking China with Europe, fully live up to their reputation of being among of the world's most special places.

Photo:The Registan - Samakand

Samakand with its majestic and colorful architecture is over 2500 years old; it is where Tamerlane (Timur) established the center of his Empire and left a remarkable architectural legacy; magnificent courtyards of Registan and Shahi Zindah, stunning blue, white and gold complexes of 15th century medressehs, mosques and tombs, the town's winding alleys and its chaikhanas (teahouses).

Photo: The Ark - Bukara

Bukhara with its narrow streets, small squares and markets was one of the most important commercial centers on the Great Silk Road has hundreds of monuments from the Middle Ages. Such ensembles as the Ark, Poi - Kalan, Kosh Madras, mausoleum of Ismail Samoni, the minaret of Kalyan fascinate visitors.

Photo: Ichan-Kala

Khiva an ancient walled city (almost intact), is similiarly fascinating. Around the famed Ichan-Kala are minarets, madrassas and residencies little changed from 300 years ago.

Photo: Ayaz Kala

Near by are more than 300 ancient Chorasmian forts lying in the dry lands of the adjacent Karakalpak Republic which has amongst the most interesting ancient monuments in all of Central Asia. There are also many other interesting places to visit include the famed Savitsky Art Museum in the capital Nukus.

Tashkent the capital of the Republic, centre of Government and Finance and its biggest Industrial centre and has a population of 3 million people. It is the largest ancient city in Central Asia (rose in the II century B.C) known in ancient times as Chach and has been a crossroads of traders carrying silver, gold, precious stones, spices, silk and splendid horses to and from Europe the Middle and Far east for almost three thousand years. Despite the earthquake of 1966 it still has a fascinating old city.

Photo - The ruins of Ak-saray - Shakhrisabz

Other very interesting places to visit include Shakhrisabz (near Timur's birthplace), an beautiful mountain town with one of the largest architectural ruins in Cental Asia Ak-saray.

Photo: The palace of XIX century Kokand Khan Khudayarkhan

Kokand, an ancient Silk Road city situated in Fergana Valley in 250 kilometres east of Tashkent once the capital of Kokand khanate and nearby Margilan - is famous for its fabrics and silks.

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