Popular destinations for tourists
Tashkent is located in the north-eastern part of Uzbekistan, at an altitude of 440-480m above the sea level. All its 2000-year history Tashkent played a significant cultural, religious and economic role in the Central Asian region. As an important trading center on the Silk Road, Tashkent was the link between different civilizations and cultures.
Advantageous geographical location in the center of Tashkent oasis at the confluence of Syrdarya River with its tributaries Chirchik and Akhangaran provided a basis for of agricultural civilization already in the first millennium BC. Archaeological excavations of the religious buildings and city walls provide a clear picture of the typical architecture of the ancient city of the East.Archaeologists have found pottery, round bronze mirrors, hair clips depicting a camel, which give reason to judge that the locals were related to the nomadic tribes of the Volga and the Ural Mountains.
The first information about Tashkent as a city was mentioned in the Chinese sources of the 2nd Century BC. The Chinese called this city “Uni”.
During archaeological excavations in the settlement Mingyuruk (1st Century BC - 7th Century AD) by archeologists was found a palace with the halls, corridors, fire temple, decorated with frescoes in Sogdian style. "Mingyuruk" is translated as "a thousand apricots ", because near the ruins of the ancient city in the recent past were orchards of locals. From the settlement to our days is survived only a small hill by size 100x80 meters. The city was destroyed in the 8th Century by the Arabs. Because of the destruction of the water system, people had to leave this place.
From the end of the 10th Century to the mid of the 12th Century Chach (Shash) was part of Karakhanids Empire. During the rule of this dynasty city was named by its modern name - Tashkent. This name can be translated as "stone city". In the Chinese chronicles of that period the city was known as Shi (stone). Lapis lazuli and turquoise, and along with the silver were considered the main wealth of neighborhood Chatkal mountains.
At the beginning of 13th Century, the city was destroyed by the troops of Khorezmshah Muhammad. During the Mongol invasion (1220), Tashkent was already half-ruined city.
In the 14th - 15th Centuries Tashkent became a part of Timurid Empire and was turned into the important northern outpost.
In the early 16th Century, after the collapse of the Timurid state, Tashkent became part of Sheibanids Empire. The city was surrounded by the new wall. During the reign of Sheibanids in the city were built a large number of buildings, some of them have survived to our days. For example Kukeldash madrasah and Hast Imam Complex.
Since the 18th Century Tashkent was a part of the Kokand Khanate. Due to the close trade relations between Russia and the Khanate of Kokand, Tashkent had rapid economic growth. In 1865, Tashkent became part of the Russian Empire.
Historically, Tashkent is divided into two parts, separated by canal Ankhor: Old Town and New Town. In the Old Town majority of population were craftsmen, the new city became an industrial center.
In 1924 was founded the Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan, the capital was moved from Samarkand to Tashkent in 1930.
After independence, Tashkent got a new appearance: were founded parks, streets were widened, were built modern office buildings and houses.
Tashkent - a modern city with oriental atmosphere, the city of Peace and Friendship, is the true "Pearl of the Orient."
Nurata is located in the Navoi province, in the foothills of Nuratau mountain range, close to the Kyzyl Kum desert. The highest spot of this mountain range is 2169 meters tall peak Hayatbashi.
Nurata was founded over 2000 years ago. It had advantageous geographical position, because it was located on the border between oasis and desert. Ancient manuscripts can give a bright picture about the local life and customs.Outstanding scientist and historian Muhammad Narshakhi (10th Century) mentions in his book "History of Bukhara", that Nurata is the biggest city of the oasis. He wrote that many people, who have seen the Prophet Muhammad, were buried here, so that the settlement was a place of worship for pilgrims from all over the Muslim world.
Nurata is still one of the most important religious centers of Uzbekistan. City center, called Chashma consists of a complex of religious buildings like mosque Namazgokh, Holy spring, and burial of Saint Nur- Ota. The appearing of the Holy spring associated with a meteorite allegedly fallen here 40,000 years ago. At the crash site appeared the water spring, with healing qualities. Local people saw in the meteorite divine sign, and exclaimed: Allah sent us beam of light (" nur "). Like this appeared the legend about the origin of the name of the city Nurata. Holy spring water is in a reality unique: water temperature is permanently 19.5 degrees all the year round; in water have been found 15 minerals, including gold, silver, iodine, bromine. Due to the presence of silver, the water can be stored for a very long time. Bromine has a calming effect on to the human body. Particularly interesting is the fish Schizothorax (local calls them as a Marinka, a kind of carp) which lives in the water of the Holy spring. They are considered to be sacred among locals. Spring water flows to the city by the system of ariks (arik- a small canal).
Next to the spring is situated mosque Namazgokh with 40 columns and a dome with the diameter around 16 meters, which is one of the largest in Central Asia. The mosque has a good acoustics. Even whisper in the prayer niche, "mihrab", is clearly audible in every corner of the mosque. Large vessels (Hum) installed inside the columns under the dome, are the reason of this striking effect. Besides religious center, in Nurata also are situated ruins of the castle built by Alexander the Great, in the 4th Century BC. This is one of the oldest archaeological sites in Uzbekistan. This citadel was built, probably as a strategic fort on the border between the fertile lands of the oasis and the desert.
Fortress consisted of several parts that were surrounded by thick walls with watching towers. Entrance to the fortress was in the middle of the Northern wall. From the south walls are built on rock. The south wall was reinforced with four round and semicircular towers. In the east, more than half of the walls are partially preserved. The northwestern part is mostly devastated. There is a 130m long corridor from the south tower. It ends in a rectangular watchtower with dimensions 26x26 m. Castle is the subject for further researches.
Creation of the unique underground water supply system named as a Kariz also associated with the name of Alexander the Great. Kariz is the very effective water carrying system, sometimes reaching a length of several kilometers.
Samarkand - "Heart of the Muslim World", is one of the oldest cities in the East. The earliest archaeological finds in Samarkand belong to the first millennium BC. At different periods of history, the city was ruled by the Persians, Greeks, Chinese, Arabs and Turks.
For example, in the 4th Century BC city was captured by the army of Alexander the Great.Alexander was delighted with the beauty of the city; he saw that the descriptions of the city nothing compared with what he saw with his own eyes. In the1st -3rd Century AD the city became part of the Kushan Empire. During the rule of Kushans the city reached a heyday of its power, serving as a trading hub on the Great Silk Road.
In the 7-8th Century in Samarkand continued to develop trade and culture. But the Mongol invasion in the early 13th Century interrupted the peaceful life of Samarkand.
Afrasiab, the former name of the city of Samarkand, was destroyed by the troops of Genghis Khan. Palaces were devastated, houses were burned, famous water supplying system was destroyed..... Residents abandoned the city. Later the town was reborn, like a phoenix from the ashes, but not on the same place. In the late 14th and early 15th Century Samarkand became the capital of a vast empire that stretched from the Indus River to the Bosporus. This blossom of Samarkand was associated with the reign of the great Amir Timur and his descendants. He paid great attention to the city, the beauty of which had to surpass all other cities in the world. It is impossible not to notice the magnificent ruins of the Friday Mosque of Amir Timur - Bibi Hanum. Gur-Emir Mausoleum makes visitors admire its azure ribbed dome. Architectural masterpieces such as the necropolis Shahi Zinda or majestic Registan ensemble are called as the "pearls of Oriental architecture." These and many other buildings have a great scientific and cultural value and can be compared with the famous monuments of ancient Egypt, India and Iran. To this day, the city carefully preserves the unique treasures of the cultural heritage of the past.
Termez is located on the right bank of the famous Amu Darya (in Greek-Oxus) River, at an altitude of 302 meters above sea level. It is the southernmost city in Uzbekistan with a sharply continental climate. Termez is one of the oldest cities of Central Asia with more than 2000 - year history. Like other cities along the Great Silk Road, Termez also has a rich history.
The ancient name of the city Tarmita means "City on the banks of the river," but some scholars interpret it as the "Iron City". There also exists another version that the name of the city means "a place of ferry", because Termez in reality was situated next to the important crossing - over the Amu Darya River.During the rule of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom the city became one of the most important trade cities on the southern branch of the Great Silk Road. Especially during the reign of the Greco - Bactrian king Demetrius (200-185 BC) city blossomed. The trade and craft developed fast. The city was an important transshipment center between the kingdoms of Gandhara (Northwestern India) and Sogdiana (Samarkand) and was called at those days as Demetris.
At the beginning of the 1st Century AD Kushan Empire conquered the city, and Termez was renamed into “Talimi”. During the reign of King Kanishka (first half of the 2nd Century AD), Termez became an important religious center of Buddhism in Central Asia. From here Buddhism was spread to Sogdiana, China and Tibet.
Ancient Termez existed up to the beginning of the 13th Century, when it was destroyed by the hordes of Genghis Khan. In Middle Ages the city nevertheless was playing an important commercial role.
In the second half of the 18th Century, the city was completely destroyed as a result of feudal wars, and only two villages survived not so far from Old Termez. In one of these villages, Pattakesar, at the end of the 19th Century by Tsarist Russia was built border point, which became the core of modern Termez.
Bukhara is one of the oldest cities of Central Asia. It is situated on the left bank of the Zarafshan River. “Noble Bukhara “, “Star of the Islam”, “Oriental paradise” that are the names given by the poets and historians of different epochs.
The city had a very favorable geographical position on the Silk Road that was connecting China and India, Persia and Europe. Therefore, for many centuries, Bukhara was the center of science and arts, crafts and trade. In the markets and trading domes here merchants were selling various spices, jewelry, knives, precious metals and stones, silk and cotton textiles, carpets, etc.Sacred Bukhara has a history over 2500 years old. Numerous archaeological finds prove that the city during its long history was built and developed without changing a location. After multiply conquest and destruction, again and again residents were reviving Bukhara back to life.In the Chinese chronicles first mention of the town appeared in the 2nd Century BC, and was named as "Pu Ho ". Bukhara at that period of history belonged to Kang-kü/Kangju Empire.In the 5th Century the Hephtalites seized power in Bukhara also. And in the 6 - 7th Centuries, the city was under the control of the Turkic Khanate. At the beginning of 8th Century Arabs conquered the city. Arabs brought a new religion-Islam. Under their influence in the city appeared the first Muslim buildings.
In the 9-10th Centuries Bukhara became the capital of the Samanids Empire, as well as one of the most important cultural centers of the Muslim world. Architectural heritage of that epoch is the mausoleum of the Samanids, which still impresses with exquisite shapes and filigree ornaments.Mongol invaders led by the brutal commander Genghis Khan destroyed the city, sparing neither the city nor its inhabitants. And almost one century the city was in ruins.During the reign of the Great Timur in the 14-15th Centuries Bukhara was revived. Timur paid attention to the trade and crafts, and Bukhara gradually regained its status as one of the most important cities on the Silk Road.In the 16-17th Centuries Bukhara was the capital of Sheibanids and Ashtarkhanids kingdoms. Walls were protecting hundreds of mosques and madrassas, caravanserais and bathhouses, mausoleums and other buildings. In the 17th Century Bukhara became the capital of the Emirate of Bukhara.In 1868, the Emirate became a vassal state of the Russian Empire. European architecture was introduced and here was built banks, factories and etc. Emir of Bukhara was dethroned in 1920 and the Emirate was proclaimed as a part of the USSR.Since 1991, Bukhara is the administrative capital of the homonymous province of the Republic of Uzbekistan.Centuries have come and gone, replaced by dozens of rulers and regimes, but the ancient monuments in the old city of Bukhara, still testify to the glorious past of the city.
Shahrisabz (translated as a “green city”) was one of the major trading centers of the Southern branch of the Great Silk Road. The city is surrounded by green gardens and vineyards. The city is birthplace of the talented military leader and statesman Amir Timur, who founded a powerful state in the 14th Century on the territory of Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Middle East and India. Few years ago Shahrisabz celebrated its 2700-year anniversary.Archaeological excavations fulfilled by the scientists in the 20th Century provided numerous finds, the oldest of which dates back to 9-8 centuries BC .The city has experienced conquest of the Persian kings Cyrus and Darius , the army of Alexander the Great , the invasion of the Arabs , the hordes of Genghis Khan.During the reign of the Great Timur and his descendants in the 14th - 15th Centuries, the city had a period of prosperity. Timur was born in 1336 in the village of Khoja Ilgor, near the town, where he spent his childhood and youth. Although Samarkand became the capital of the empire in 1370, Timur did not forget his hometown. Shahrisabz was the unofficial capital of the whole empire. Here Amir Timur received ambassadors and guests from Europe and Asia. Famous scientists, calligraphers, skillful masters from the entire world were invited to this city.
That gave opportunity to develop the art and sciences, trade and crafts. Architects and artists from Khorezm, Iran, Iraq and North India created several outstanding architectural monuments in Shahrisabz. Majestic Palace "Ak-Saray" (White Palace) can serve as an example. The palace had to surpass the beauty of all other buildings of his era. Construction lasted nearly 20 years, and when the palace was complete, it had fascinated by its beauty all visitors. Residential buildings in the complex were located around several courtyards, facades were covered with the beautiful ceramic tiles, the interior was decorated with gold and lapis lazuli, and the courtyard was paved with mosaic tiles and white marble. Only two pylons of the entrance arch of the palace survived to our days, but even in the ruined shape it amazes by its monumentality.Shahrisabz today is a thriving city of Uzbekistan. Residents are very hospitable and friendly, the doors of their houses are always open for guests.
Khiva is located in the west of Uzbekistan, in the ancient land of Khorezm. The city is located not so far from the Amu Darya River. For the first time this region was mentioned in the first millennium BC in the Holy book of the Zoroastrians - Avesta as "Hvarazm - land of the sun."
Khiva according to the archaeological finds was founded in 6th-5th Centuries BC.The ancient name was pronounced differently - Kheivak. According to a legend the city was named after name of the ancient well.
In the 10th Century during the reign of Caliph Mamun ibn Muhammad Khiva had a cultural and economic prosperity. In 996 here was founded "Mamun Academy" and Khiva became the scientific center, where lived and worked well-known scientists such as Al Biruni and Abu Ali Ibn Sina (known in Europe as Avicenna).
At the beginning of the 13th Century Mongol invasion put the end for the peaceful existence of ancient Khorezm, majority of buildings were destroyed, and the city was burned.
After foundation of Khiva khanate the city became a capital in 1598. In the 18th-19th Centuries the city was totally rebuilt, most of the monumental structures, such as Khan's palaces, mosques, minarets, madrassas, baths and caravanserais were built during that epoch.
Today Khiva is a unique urban and architectural ensemble, which is surrounded by the mud-made wall and consists of two parts, Ichan-Kala (inner city) and Dishan Kala (outer city).In the central part of the city (Ichan - Kala), there are many religious, administrative and commercial buildings such as mosques, numerous madrassas, mausoleums, palaces of Khans, bazaars and caravanserais .In Khiva you can get a good knowledge about the life of ancient Khoresm.
Almost all the guests coming to Uzbekistan try to visit this fabulous city-museum under the open sky, where the legends of the Orient come true.
Kokand is situated in the east of Uzbekistan, in the southwestern part of the Fergana Valley, at an altitude of 404 meters above sea level. The first written sources about the land belong to the Chinese diplomat Zhang Jiang, who arrived with the diplomatic mission to the ancient Davan (Fergana Valley) in 138, BC.In his report to the Chinese emperor, he gave information about the fertile lands of the Fergana Valley with its rich gardens and fields. Also he mentioned about racing horses (Akhal-Teke). In 138, BC from China to the Fergana valley came the first caravan loaded with bronze mirrors and silk. Davan played an important role in the trade between East and West, especially at the beginning of the Great Silk Road. Blossom of culture and architecture in Kokand happened after joining in the 16th Century to the Emirate of Bukhara.The new fortress was built on the site of a former fortress Eski- Kurgan in 1732 and laid the foundation of modern Kokand.
The city became the capital of the Khanate of Kokand in 1740. In the 19th Century Kokand khanate was a powerful state, controlling part of modern Uzbekistan, southern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Among all of the 29 rulers of Kokand Khudoyar Khan is considered to be the most influential. He was coronated at the age 12, in 1845, and ruled until 1876. The Khan paid great attention to the development of the city. In the city were built many mosques, madrassas, as well as the – Urda, citadel-palace. Khudoyar Khan Palace is one of the main attractions of modern Kokand. Architects not only from Kokand, but also from others cities like Chust, Namangan and Kashgar participated in the construction of the palace. The building has a length of 138 m and a width of 65m. The palace had 7 courtyards and 119 rooms. Unfortunately only two courtyards and 19 rooms survived. After the Independence in 1991 experienced architects restored the beauty of the main facade of the palace. The facade is decorated with geometric patterns and floral arabesque ornament. Inscription in Arabic script above the arch mentions the name of Muhammad Khudoyarkhan the Great. Palace combines traditional style of architecture of the Fergana Valley. There are other attractions in the Kokand, such as madrasah of Norbutabi ( 1799), Juma ( Jami : Friday) Mosque , built during the reign of Umarkhan (1809-1822), necropolises Madorikhan (1825) and Dakhmai Shakhon which are one of the most interesting examples of Islamic architecture.
In the history of human civilization, there are many examples of the mutual cultural and economic exchange between countries and peoples of different religious and ethnic traditions. One such example can be the Great Silk Road. The so-called trade route stretched from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the shores of the Pacific and covered the entire Eurasian continent and connected the countries of the Mediterranean to the Far East.The activity of this great trade route lasted from the 2nd Century BC to the end of the 17th Century. It was not simply a cultural and economic bridge between East and West, but a bright example of peaceful cooperation. Along the routes of the caravan trade appeared settlements and cities with rich caravanserais. Samarkand, Bukhara and Shahrisabz were the richest trade centers of the Silk Road. Merchants, travelers and pilgrims brought along these roads not only goods but also new religions, customs, and crafts. Up to the 2nd Century BC there was no trading road from Europe to Asia, to the borders of China.The Chinese embassy of Chzhan Tsjan came with a diplomatic mission to Central Asia in 138 BC. The object of his mission was to convince the nomads of the tribe Yuedji to be allies of the Chinese Han Empire in the war against Syunni nomads who had attacked China from the north.After return, Chzhan Tsjan reported to the Emperor about the unique countries situated west of China. He informed about the developed crafts, agriculture and the cities of Central Asia, who traded with India and the Middle East. He also told the Emperor about the thoroughbred horses that were superior in comparison to the Chinese horses. However, the people of these countries did not yet know the sericulture and silk production. In 121 BC the first caravan with silk and bronze mirrors came to the Fergana valley.
Thus, in the last decade of the 2nd Century BC, was given the start to the Great Silk Road. In addition to silk, from China to Central Asia were brought metal products, jade, coral and other goods. To China from Central Asia were brought grapes, alfalfa, onions, cotton, pomegranates, walnuts, and figs. Trade relations between Central Asia and China began to develop and get stronger.The length of the Great Silk Road was over 12000km. The Road consisted of several routes that ran via various mountain passes and ridges and dry deserts. Although the routes of the Silk Road varied, it is possible to note two main routes from East to West:The south route - from the north of China via Central Asia to the Middle East and North India;
The northern route - from the north of China via the Pamirs Mountains and via the Aral Sea to the Lower Volga and to the Black Sea.The name "Great Silk Road" for the first time was introduced by the German geographer and historian Ferdinand von Richthofen in 1877, in his book "China".The decline of the Great Silk Road is related with the development of merchant shipping along the coasts of the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia. In the 14th and 15th Century maritime trade was more attractive than the dangerous overland caravan routes. As a result of these factors in the 16th Century trading along the Great Silk Road finally stopped. However, some branches of the Silk Road functioned for a long time (the caravan trade between Central Asia and China stopped only in the 18th century).The history of the Great Silk Road is now regarded as the example of the peaceful cultural and economical dialogue between different countries and nations.
Not only archeology, history and cultural heritage attract visitors to Uzbekistan, but also diverse ethnic cuisine. Delicious and nutritious meals are an important aspect of traveling.Traditional cuisine of Uzbekistan includes a large variety of dishes, especially lamb and beef, a variety of salads, as well as many vegetarian dishes. And for lovers of fruits and vegetables - Uzbekistan is truly paradise.
Freshly baked bread with a crispy crust is the best meal that is second to none! For the Uzbek people bread is considered sacred and is treated with care. In Uzbekistan the flat loaves of bread named “non” are baked in a special clay oven “Tandoor “. Two types of flat breads are famous: “Obi – non” - made from flour and water and "Patir non" - from flour, water and lamb fat or butter. There are also flat breads of puff pastry with minced meat, onions or nuts.The history of Tandoor ovens for baking bread goes back to ancient times. Local potters pass on their skills from generation to generation.The baker stick the flat bread next to each other onto the hot walls of the Tandoor and then the bread is sprinkled with water and baked in this way under heat for about 10 min. At once baker can make up to 50 loaves of bread.
Many traditions and customs of the Uzbeks are related to the bread. There are for example the tradition that when a person leaves the house for an long time, he/she bites off a piece of bread and the rest of bread would be kept until the person comes back, being as a protector.Each hostess welcomes guests with bread and tea. Flat bread is not cut with a knife but broken by hand. During the ceremony of engagement, the parents break bread at the table of the bride and groom.
Every province of Uzbekistan has their bread recipes with a unique flavor.The flatbread “Galaosiyo”, a village near Samarkand, is famous far beyond the borders of Samarkand. Any guest, who visits Samarkand, buys the bread as a gift. The Fergana Valley is famous for the flaky "Katlama" bread that is consumed with butter and sour cream.
Surprisingly Uzbek bread keeps its unique taste, even when it is stale.
Somsa is the most popular pastry in Uzbek cuisine - pastry rolls baked in the oven or fried in oil. There are more than 20 recipes of making it. Somsa come in different shapes: triangular, square or round. Fillings can be also very different: the minced meat with onions, mashed potatoes, vegetables and mushrooms. In the spring is popular somsa with herbs, full by vitamins that nourishes the body after a long winter. And in the winter there is nothing better than somsa with pumpkin.
Soups have a special place in Uzbek cuisine. They consist of several ingredients that have a high nutritional value and very tasty. Frequently used vegetables for soup - onion, carrot, sweet pepper and tomatoes. Among Uzbek soups the most popular are " Mastava " - rice soup , " mashhurda " soup with rice and mungo beans, " Lagman " - noodle soup , " shourpa " - soup with lamb broth with lots of vegetables , " Mampar " - soup with slices of dough , etc. In Uzbek cuisine are common spices such as cumin, barberry, coriander, sesame, fennel and basil. Soup purees are not widespread in Uzbekistan (except for large restaurants and hotels).
The most famous Uzbek dish is the pilaf, which is one of the most popular dishes of the Uzbek people and served at all events - weddings, family celebrations. Pilaf consists of simple products, but together they create a unique combination. The main ingredients are: rice, meat, onion, cotton seed oil, carrots and spices such as garlic, dried barberries, raisins,and sometimes also fruits like apricots, quinces. Experienced cooks say for tasty pilaf most important ingredients are copper cauldron and.... good mood.
In Uzbekistan, the most popular drink is green tea. There are also a large number of other beverages, particularly alcoholic beverages such as wine, vodka, beer. Uzbekistan nowadays produces quite a big quantity of fine wines. The most famous local wines in Uzbekistan is Gulyakandoz , Shirin , Cabernet and Aleatiko . Uzbekistan also has dozens producers light beer.