If Samarkand is known as "Edem of the East", Bukhara as "Noble city", Tashkent today aspires to rank one of the most beautiful cities in Asia.
Tashkent, the capital of a young independent state, is the largest city in the region. It is political, business, scientific and cultural center of Uzbekistan.
Tashkent is more than 2 000 years old. Its name has been changed many times during the centuries-old history: Chach, Shash, Binkent… All of these names could be transformed to Turkish word "Tash" (stone) that gave a name to the city Tashkent (means "stone city").
Actually city was appeared on the place having similar name and located on the mountain crossroads playing an important role in trade between East and West. That time Tashkent was a citadel that has repulsed attacks of nomad tribes. But at all times, Tashkent has been and remains to be an important international transport center.
Archaeological excavations have revealed that present-day Tashkent was the site of an ancient town which has continued to exist as a developed commercial and cultural center of the East. Eastern and western traditions and custom's have merged into a single whole. Unfortunately, many of historical monuments have been destroyed after the revolution of 1917. The unique historical monuments including Kukeldosh and Barak-Khana Madrassahs erected in 16th century have been preserved to this day. In 1966, a destructive earthquake shook Tashkent and raised half of the city into ruins. In a year Tashkent actually revived and became even more beautiful.
Today Tashkent is famous as one of the world science and culture center. The Navoi Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre is truly unique in its architecture and interior design. Theatrical Square with a splendid fountain adjoining the theatre is a favorite place of recreation for Tashkenters and guests of the capital.
There are 20 museums in Tashkent including the Uzbek Museum of Fine Arts one of the largest in Central Asia. Collection of the museum would do honour to any capital city. The Tashkent Metro faced with marble, granite and ceramic tiles leaves an amazing impression on the guests of the Republic. Decorated in the eastern style, it is deservingly considered one of the most beautiful and spacious Metro networks in the world.
For the years of independence, the capital of the Uzbek state is completely changed: many beautiful fountains are constructed to decorate squares and parks of the city, new constructed buildings decorated in national style look very impressive, international airports and railway stations have been reconstructed to provide passengers with top service on the ground and in the sky as well.
Mustaqillik (Independence) Square
This is the main square of Uzbekistan, symbol of its independence. The buildings of the Cabinet of Ministers and the Senate are located here. The square entrance is decorated by the Ark with the flushing the sky stoke birds on top. The road under the Ark leads to the square where the Monument of Independence and Humanism consisting of two monuments — the Independence and Happy Mother — is located.
The Independence Monument (1991)
Signifies the sovereignty of Uzbekistan and represents the gold colour globe with the state outlines. But the engraved territory of Uzbekistan does not show its real geographical location, it just symbolizes the aspiration of the young state for joining the world community and recognition by many world countries as well.
Monument of Happy Mother (1996)
Symbolizes the Motherland, a child – symbolizes Future. The monument looks plain but very majestic.
Amir Temur Monument
The monument of Amir Temur is an important landmark in Tashkent. It is located just in the center of the capital city, under the green-leaved branches of Amir Temur Square. Amir Temur is sitting on his horse, clad in battle garments, his steed in his left hand, his right hand stretched over the people meeting him, proudly wearing a crown as if only just returning from a victorious battle — announcing the coming of peace and tranquility.
The Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre
The theatre was constructed in 1947. Architect is Schusev A.V. One year later it was given the name of Alisher Navoi. The Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre is truly unique in its architecture and interior design. The interior is beautifully decorated with the guanch and marble carving. Theatrical Square with a splendid fountain adjoining the Theatre is a favourable place of recreation for residents and guests of the capital
The Tashkent TV Tower
It was built and put into operation in 1985. The Tashkent TV Tower (The Tashkent Television Broadcasting Center) is the highest construction in Central Asia. Currently the Tashkent TV Tower is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers which includes more than 200 towers! It is the ninth tallest tower in the world and the second in CIS after the Ostankino Tower in Moscow. The Tashkent TV Tower is 375 meters. The weight of its metal framework is 6.000 tons. The weight with equipment is 16.000 tons. The depth of the tower base is 11 meters. At the height of 110 meters there is a restaurant. In the day time one of the restaurant halls smoothly goes round. Through the glass Tashkent is plain to see.
The Japanese Garden in Tashkent
The Japanese garden is a real "piece of Japan" created by Japanese artists who have synergized the beauty of an authentic Japanese garden with its surroundings. The Japanese garden is a garden of contemplation. The area around the Uzexpocentre is the ideal place for such a garden with its old trees that have been preserved for centuries – Japanese believe that trees have a soul. The bank of the old lake has been restored and Sakura trees, the sacred tree of Japan, blossoms here in spring. A Japanese-style pier has been built on the lake from which visitors can take short boat trips. Stones are the main element of a Japanese garden. They keep the beauty of bygone eras and transmit the feeling of the eternity of time. A teahouse is located in the centre of the garden, built in the simple style of all Japanese teahouses. The small Japanese garden is an elegant combination of the bounteous beauty Nature has to offer.
Located in Zenghi-Ata settlement located close to Tashkent. The ensemble was built on the burial place of Ay-Hoja sheikh nicknamed Zenghi-Ata (means "black") who lived in 12th-13th centuries. By the legend, the ensemble was initiated by Timur. The ensemble consists of three territories including big garden; complex of buildings of 14th – 19th centuries including mosque, medreassah, minaret; and mausoleum Ambar-bibi.
The yellow colour burnt bricks were used for construction of the museum in honour of Khavendi Tahur sheikh died in 1355. It is assumed that it was constructed in the first part of the 19th century during the reign of the Kokand khans.
The mausoleum built in the 14th century over the grave of respected clergyman, popular scientist and connoisseur of the Koran and khadises – Khazreti Imam (full name is Abu-Bakr Mukhammad Kaffal-Shash) is a part of the Khazret Imam Ensemble. According to the historical information, he was buried in the place, developed later into Sebzar - one of the fourth Tashkent's regions. His grave was a sacred place. That is why the surrounding area in Sibzar part of the old city received a name of Khazret Imam. The monument is of great historical and artistic value.
The Zenghi-Ata Mosque built by the Zenghi-Ata in 1870, represents the outstretched building with wooden aiwan in front. In 1914-15 the mosque was reconstructed partly: the aiwan and the southern facade were renewed and the roofing over the galleries was arranged. The Namazgoh Mosque was used to hold a prayer services.
Juma Mosque of Khoja Ahror Vali
This is the third largest cathedral mosque in Uzbekistan surpassed only by two structures of this kind – the Bibi-Khanim Mosque in Samarkand and the Kalyan Mosque in Bukhara. The Juma Mosque forms the basis of the Registan Ensemble located in the area of Chorsu Square. Construction of the mosque is delivered to the 15-18th and the end of the 19th centuries. The main Juma Mosque of Tashkent has been completely rebuilt, and now not one but three domes crown the old city hall.
Located just opposite the Barak-khana Medressah, it was constructed by the Kokand khan Mirza Akhmad Kushbegi. Winter and summer housings for praying including the low minarets, household premises and library are located inside the mosque's inner yard. The famous Koran of Osman dated by the 7th century is keeping inside the library's special safe. The mosque is decorated with a mikhrab niche, minbar and the window openings as well. According to the legend, the gold hair of the prophet Muhammad is keeping here.
In recent times, it was a country territory where the people gathered together on great religious feasts. Currently the Imam Al Bukhari Islamic Institute is accommodated here. Building of the mosque represents the domed galleries with the aiwan constructed of the burnt bricks. The interiors do not have any decorations. In our times, the monument underwent some changes in decoration.
It is located to the east from the Chorsu bazaar, among the adobe buildings of the old city. Construction of medressah was completed in 1532. A few burial places there were found inside the inner yard surrounded with one-storeyed khujras but Barak-khan was not among them: according to the information he dies in 1556 and was buried in Samarkand. The Barak-khan Medressah has a portal-domed form with the four angular premises and the cruciformed hall. On the portal there is a board informing that the Residence of the Mufti of Theological Administration of Uzbekistan's Muslims is located here inside the mosque.
Medressah Kukeldosh — one of Central Asian largest and still preserved medressahs dated by the 16th century is stately located on the highland close to the Chorsu Square. The building was constructed of the burnt bricks (1551—1575) by the Tashkent khans' vizir nicknamed Kukeldosh (means "The khan's foster brother"). Medressah has a traditional composition: a vast inner yard built up with hujras; darskhona and mosque are located in the corners. At the end of the 18th century the mosque was used as a caravan-saray, in 1860 it serviced as a fortress for the Kokand khans. The monument has been restored for future generations.
The Abdulkasim Medressah
This monument was erected to the great thinker of past times — Abdulkasim-khan. The medressah is located in the south part of old Tashkent, not far from the Beshagach former gates, reminding about the grandeur and beauty of the Tashkent ancient architecture. According to the archaeological researches, historical documents and legends "the first stone" of the Abdulkasim Medressah was laid at the beginning of the 19th century. In ethnographical materials of 1908, this monument was described by N.Ostroumov as one of the places of honor popular far beyond Tashkent.
Khavendi Takhur Sheikh Mausoleum
It was founded at the 14th—15th centuries and its above-ground part was constructed between the 18th and 19th centuries. The preserved building was constructed on the old foundation keeping the basic architectural forms. Ziaratkhona and gur-khona are accommodated in the mausoleum. Light-yellow color bricks were used for construction of the mausoleum. No any decoration was used here.
The most ancient monument preserved in the territory of Tashkent. There is no any direct information about the date of its construction. The pyramidal dome of this monument dates to the 15th century differs the mausoleum from the other buildings in the complex and remaind the mazars in the Kazakh steppes. This is a fact that the mausoleum contains the tomb of famous Kazakh political Tole-biy nicknamed Kaldyrgach (means "Swallow"). Many people use to visit this sacred place.
The Yunus-khan Mausoleum
One of the ancient and few monuments of Temurids epoch located in Tashkent. It was constructed after the death of the Tashkent ruler Yunus-khan – the descendant of Ghingiz-khan (1415—1487). The Mausoleum of Yunus-khan — the poet and writer, the grandfather of great Babur, was built at the end of the 15th century. The building was restored many times and much changed in the course of time. There is no any decoration here except panjara used in the main fracade.
Mausoleum of Abubakr Mukhammad Kaffal Shashi
Abubakr Mukhammad Kaffal Shashi was one of the first Muslim Imams, the famous Muslim scientist, connoisseur of the Koran, the Moslem low and lexicology as well. He died in 976/77. The present mausoleum of rectangular form is crowned with a cupola. The wooden lattices — panjara are put in the window openings. The monument is of great historical and art value.
Mausoleum of Zainuddin-bobo Sheikh
Zainuddin-bobo Sheikh is a son of the founder of Suffist order Sukhravardiya — Zia addin Jakhim Sukhravardi sheikh. He was sent to these places by his father for spreading ideas Zainuddin-bobo sheikh was buried in Arifon country village located behind Kukcha gate. The monument belongs to khanaka-type mausoleums. The hall is covered with a double sphere-conical cupola. Quite near to mausoleum there is a chillyakhona (the underground monastic cell) constructed in the 12th—3th centuries.
The Roman-Catholic Church (1902)
It stands out against the metropolitan background of the city, both with its scope and the architecture. A Catholic Cathedral, commonly called "The Polish Church" not only stuck out because of its size, but also for its builders and construction materials – very unusual for this region. The excessive sculptural ornamentation was particularly unusual. The Cathedral, even as an unfinished construction, impressed onlookers. It was only after independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan that many believers returned to their traditional religion. This Polish sanctuary only then received true religion. The beautiful stained-glass windows are similar to those of the Krakow Castle by the popular windows depict local themes. The renovated church is now the new spiritual centre for people from Tashkent and guests of the Republic with the mass read in three languages: English, Russian and Korean. People can also enjoy wonderful organ concerts on the weekends.
"Precious pearl of the Islamic world", "Edem of the East", "Face of the Earth" were the names given to Samarkand by the poets and historians of the past.
Samarkand has a 2500 years-old history. Convenient geographical location of Samarkand in Zarafshan river basin made this city the important crossroads on the Great Silk Road.
Samarkand - one of the ancient cities of the world, along with Rome, Athens and Babylon, is the most popular tourist centre both of Uzbekistan and the whole Central Asia as well. Founded in the midst of 1st century DC, it was named first Marchanda and later Afrosiab. Its most prosperous time was under the rule of Amir Temur. Born in Shakhrisabs, the Sahibkiran made Samarkand the capital of his great empire stretching from the Ind River up to the Bosfore.
For many centuries the Registan Square was and still remains the centre of Samarkand. As the history says, many centuries ago, small river crossed the square where the first medrassah was constructed. Years have passed, the river dried up leaving only sands in the river-bad. In the 15th century the first medrassah was founded just on that place giving name to the square Registan (means "The Sandy Spot"). Beginning from that time, all celebrations, festivals and Sunday's bazaars took place just at that place.
Shakhi-Zinda Mausoleum located on the hillside of the Abrosiab settlement is a monument of pride of all Central Asian architecture. The main construction took place during the 14th and 15th centuries under the rule of Amir Temur. The female burial places of Temur's family predominate the ensemble.
The Gur-Emir Mausoleum was constructed by order of Amir Temur, because of the premature death of Sahibkiran's dearly loved grandson, Mukhammad Sultan, are preserved in the sacred memory of the Temurids under the turquoise domes of Ghur-Emir. (Ghur-Emir means "The Tomb of the Emir").
The Juma Mosque built in 1399 in honour of Amir Temur's beautiful wife, Bibi-Khanum, is one of the most magnificent buildings in Samarkand. Construction of the mosque was continued for five years. No expense was spared in terms of building materials and skilled workers for the mosque's construction. But in 1405 Amir Temur died during military maneuver in China. The mosque was not yet completed. Today only some of the renovated buildings bear testimony of the former splendor of the Bibi-Khanum mosque.
The history of Samarkand is closely connected to famous scientists, poets and philosophers such as Abu Ali ibn Sino, Rudhaki, Omar Khayam, Navoi, al-Khorezmi, etc.
Many tourists visit Samarkand to pay homage to the relics and sacred places of the Islamic world. One can visit the grave of Saint Kusam ibn-Abbas, a place that during the middle age, when visited was regarded equal to a Hadj to Mecca.
Samarkand with its unique historical and architectural monuments, age-old national traditions and holidays and secrets of Asian cuisine awaits guests to this experience of time long gone.
History knows Amir Temur who died in 1405, as a great sovereign, commander and founder of world power. During the years of his reign, Temur was constantly dealing with building activity: he created new and reconstructed old towns, built fortresses and constructed irrigation systems. Having established a huge empire and having become its absolute ruler — Emir, Temur made Samarkand the capital of his state. The city made a deep impression on Temur's contemporaries: it was named "The Sparkling Point of the World". Amir Temur is esteemed for having revived belief in Islam, infringed during the Mongolian dominions and for his leading role in stimulating the Renaissance of Middle Eastern culture which took place during the 15-16th centuries.
Mausoleum of the Prophet Daniil
The Biblical Prophet Daniil, known in the East as Hoja Daniyar, lived in 4—5th century BC. He was a descendant of Solomon tsar, revered by the three world religion. It is considered that parts of Daniil remains, namely a hand, were conveyed to Samarkand by Temur. The beautiful mausoleum was constructed over the burial place of Daniil, being reconstructed at the beginning of the 20th century. Quite near to mausoleum there is a water spring with delicious water that is considered a sacred one and everyone wishing to visit mausoleum, should have a drink of this water and wash the open parts of the body. This is a place of pilgrimage both of residents and numerous guests from all over the world. In 1996, the Patriarch of All Rus Alexey II during his stay in Samarkand put a visit to mausoleum and sanctified it. As they say, after sanctifying the mausoleum, the pistachio-tree being dead, began to blossom again.
Next to the Gur-Emir Mausoleum, the small-sized Rukhabad Mausoleum (means "Adobe of the Spirit") could be found. Central Asian sheikh Burkhan ad-Din Sagarji, famous for his contribution to the conversion of the East Turkestan nomads to Islam, his wife Bibi-Khalifa and their ten children were buried at this mausoleum. Burkhan ad-Din Sagarji was married to Chinese princess and died in China. It was Burkhan's wish to be buried in Samarkand called by him as "Town of the God". By order of Temur the domed mausoleum was constructed in 1380. Later Burkhan's son Abu Said and other members of family were buried near the famous sheikh. According to legend there is a copper box with seven hairs of the Prophet Mukhammad under the dome of the mausoleum.
Construction of the palace was started in 1380 and completed in 1404. The Ak-Saray Palace can serve as an example of the main government building — the residence. The arch of the huge construction had a span of about 22 meters — the biggest one of all Temurids structures. The palace, encircled with gardens and ponds, stood out in its beauty of decoration. The yard was encircled with magnificent apartments, reception halls and rooms for feasts. Unfortunately only the picturesque ruins of Ak-Saray have survived to this day, but even these scarce fragments provide an idea of the former beauty of this architectural work of art.
It was constructed by order of Amir Temur because of premature death of his dearly loved grandson Mukhammad Sultan in 1403. He was first in the line to the throne and go-Governor of the state. The great ruler, his sons and grandsons as well as sheikh Mir-Said Bereke are preserved in the sacred memory of the Temurid's under the turquoise domes of Gur-Emir. Gur-Emir means "The Tomb of the Emir". All the headstones are made of marble, and only that one belonging to Temur was made of nephritis. It was brought by order of Ulugbek and put on the grave of Amir Temur. The ensemble includes medressah, khanaka united by the square-formed inner yard with the high walls, four corner located minarets and a portal decorated with beautiful mosaic. Grandeur and beauty of architectural forms as well as colorful mosaic decorations make the Gur-Emir Mausoleum the unique masterpiece of Middle Asia.
The Chapan-ata Mazar (15th century) located to the north-east from Samarkand, was built in honour of the myphical holy "The Herdsmen's Father". Since olden times, his cult was very popular among the people especially among the cattle-breeders. By its architecture it was constructed as a mausoleum, but archaeological excavations did discover neither burial nor crypt. Being located on the rocky top the mazar is good observed from any point of the city.
In the 20ties of 15th century on one of the hills, the governor of Samarkand, Mirzo Ulugbek, built the biggest observatory in the East that can not compare with any other in the world. His star tables Zidji-Gurgani plied by him in his observatory in Samarkand, have kept their scientific value to date: astronomic tables content coordinates of 1018 stars. By Babur's words, who have seen the observatory, it was the three-storied building covered with beautiful glazed titles. The observatory 30-meters height building had 46 meters in diameter. A huge instrument — sextant was placed in the observatory to observe the Moon, the Sun and other starts of the vault of heaven. Shortly, after the death of Ulugbek the observatory was destroyed and its location forgotten. In the early years of the 20th century the observatory was rediscovered and excavated by the archaeologist V.Vyatkin. The bottom part of its main device was found — a huge quadrant with a radius of 40.2 meters and an arc 63 meters long. Presently, the Ulugbek Museum is situated next to the remains of the former observatory. Pages of the Zij as well as medieval engravings, photographs of the archaeological dig and a collection of astronomical instruments are displayed at the museum.
The most grandiose construction to be built in Samarkand on the Emir's order, was the Bibi-Khanym Cathedral Mosque which was named after his senior wife. Construction of the mosque was started in 1399 and continued till 1404. According to Temur' idea this new mosque had to outshine anything he had seen before in the conquered lands. It was a large-scaled construction where the skilled masters' achievements of that time were concentrated including mosaics-, marble- and wooden-carvings, as well as plaster paintings. Public worship was started in the mosque in 1405 when Amir Temur died during military maneuver in China. The mosque was not yet completed. Today only some of the renovated buildings bear testimony of the former splendour of the Bibi-Khanum mosque.
On the south side of Afrasiab hill stands a mosque constructed in honour of the legendary Muslim saint Hazret Hyzr (an eternal wanderer and patron of merchants). For a trading city receiving caravans Hazret Hyzr was very valuable as a patron saint, capable of granting riches and success for distant journeys. The present mosque was constructed in the middle of the 19th century over the remains of the ancient mosque. Decoration of the mosque includes the elements of carved alabaster and the ceiling paintings. The mosque is a wonderful sample of Samarkand school's national architecture.
On south-eastern slope of Afrasiab is situated one of the famous architectural ensembles of Samarkand — Shakhi-Zinda Necropolis. This picturesque memorial ensemble (Shakhi-Zinda means "The Alive Tsar"), named after burial complex where the first cousin of the Prophet Kusam Ibn Abbas was buried, could be rightfully called "The Necklace of Architectural Masterpieces". Shakhi-Zinda is the most ancient architectural monument of Samarkand (midst of the 11th c.). The ensemble consisting of eleven mausoleums, built on one after another during the 14th — 15th centuries, was known as a big religious and cultural centre. Beginning from the 14th century, the Shakhi-Zinda Ensemble is considered a holy place of Samarkand. The Amir Burunduk Mausoleum, the portals of two anonymous mausoleums and the octahedral mausoleum were added in the 1380s to'90s. Mausoleums constructed under the rulers of Amir Temur, Mirzo Ulugbek and other Temurids are the brilliant page in the history of architecture of Samarkand. The ensemble created during centuries, is remarkable for the unprecedented magnificence of its architectural decor. The refined beauty of Shakhi-Zinda seems to defy death and proclaim the eternity of the true, spiritual life.
The Registan Square
It is located in the centre of the ancient city of Samarkand and includes many architectural monuments that make up this unique complex. Ulugbek, "The Scientist on the Throne", patron of science and education and grandson of Amir Temur, erected buildings such as medressahs, khanakas and mosques on the central part of the square. The beautiful and majestic buildings of Ulugbek (15th c.), Sher-Dor (17th c.) and Tillya-Kari (17th c.) are still part of Registan Square today. In the time of Amir Temur the Registan became the main meeting place and focus for trade and crafts activities. It became a centre on which the six main streets of the city radically converged. Under Ulugbek the Registan was used for military parades and public decrees. After completing construction of medressah Ulugbek gave lectures on mathematics and astronomy till his death. Two years later after construction of the Ulugbek Medressah, the ruler of Samarkand Yalangtush Bahadur ordered to build the copy of the medressah and the second, Sher-Dor Medressah was built opposite it. Several years later, the same ruler of Samarkand ordered the third — Tillya-Kari Medressah that was built like medressah but used mostly as mosque: Tillya-Kari has low minarets to call people to pray.
Imam al-Bukhari Memorial Complex
It is located 12 kilometers from Samarkand. At one time, the mosque was constructed here, quite near the grave of Mukhammad Ibn Ismail Bukhari. The complex includes mausoleums, mosques, administrative and other buildings constructed along the perimeter of inner yard. The Imam al-Bukhari mausoleum is located in the center of complex. This cubical building is crowned with a seventeen-meter dome. The right side door leads downstairs do dakhma — place of worship. On right side, under the sagana decorated with light blue onyx, there is a grave of al-Bukhari covered with marble. On left side of the inner yard there is a mosque that can accommodate simultaneous around 1500 prayers. Walls are decorated with light-green, blue and white glazed slabs, as well as with marble, onyx and granite; floor is decorated with girikh. Near the mikhrab niche there is Kisva — Kaaba covering, presented to Uzbekistan by the king of Saudi Arabia.
By the decision of UNESCO Bukhara was included on the list of the world's most impressive scientific and cultural treasures. "Bukhara-i-Sharif" or "Noble Bukhara" is the name given to Bukhara in the Muslim East.
Bukhara is one of the most ancient cities of Uzbekistan, situated on a sacred hill. It is one of few cities appeared and developed at one the same place beginning from the 5th century BC. This city was remained in a holy book "Avesto". The name of Bukhara originates from the word "viraha" which means "monastery" in Sanscrit. This is the only city in Central Asia where the unique historical atmosphere is remained in whole. Bukhara is a museum-city: more than 140 architectural monuments of world significance constructed in different centuries, have been preserved in Bukhara up to date. Its ancient walls store the memories of 25 centuries' history, the rain of various rulers both successful and unsuccessful.
This unique Bukhara has been restored once again into a fertile oasis and scientific and cultural centre on the Great Silk Road. Trade cupolas constructed during 15th—16th centuries - Toki-Sarrafon (cupola of moneychangers), Toki-Telpak-Furushon (cupola of headdress sellers), Toki-Zargaron (cupola of jewelers) are a good testimony of Bukhara location just on the caravan crossroads.
Many scientists and philosophers were from Bukhara. It was here that the great Sheikh Bohouddin Nakshbandi lived. He was a central figure in the development of the mystical Sufi approach to philosophy, religion and Islam. The scientific center for studying the heritage of Bohouddin Nakshbandi operates here.
Main part of Bukhara's center is so called "architectural area": a lot of former madrassahs are located here including Madrassah Chor-Minor and citadel Ark, Madrassah Ulugbek and Kukeldash. Walking along the narrow and shady streets, one can reach Poi-Kalyan Square with the Kalyan Minaret in the center. Built in 1127, even today it is known as the "Great Minaret" with its ingenious engineering construction reaching 47 meters into the sky.
...The numerous palaces, mosques, mausoleums and minarets are unsurpassed in their beauty making the ancient city of Bukhara unforgettable in its history and splendour.
High citadel Ark, strengthened with walls, was the centre of the city, showing the military power of the ruler. The palace, treasury and prison were located just here too. Buildings preserved today in the Ark, were constructed at the end of the 18th — beginning of the 20th centuries.
Today the Ark Citadel is a big earthen platform stretched from west to east. A lot of buildings are located inside the Ark Citadel. Presently, the eastern part of the Ark represents the archaeological monument. Childukhtaron Mosque is still preserved here accommodating now the historical museum.
It was built more than 1 000 years ago undergoing great reconstructions from that time. Varakhsha Palace delights by its huge sizes and picturesque frescos. Walls surrounded the courtyard were beautifully decorated. Main accommodations of the palace were constructed on the platform rising up the other buildings of shakhristan. Palace is located outside Bukhara.
The four-towered entrance preserved to date is especially majestic giving the complex its name — Chor-Minor (Four Minarets). It was constructed at the beginning of the 19th century by order of the rich merchant, Turkmen Khalif Niyazkul, a traveler and carpet and horse seller. It stands by itself and as a beautiful pearl, shining in the sunlight under a perfect blue sky. It is truly unique, a philosophical monument that has no match in the architecture of Central Asia.
The Kalyan Minaret known as the Great Minaret is famous for its 48-meter tower reaching into the blue sky. This is a unique engineering construction comes deep to the ground. The building was constructed with a burnt brick and guanch solution. On top the minaret is finished with a cupola provided with 16 openings, where from the mullah called the people to pray. New minaret is constructed completely of the burnt bricks.
History of Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum is linked with the legend according to which the well of the biblical prophet Iov-Ayub, passing by the waterless area of Bukhara, stroke the staff and then here it was appeared a well with a very clean and healthy water. Building preserving up today, was constructed in the 80ties of the 15th century. Khorezmian masters brought by Temur worked here giving to Bukhara attractive view. At present, museum of water and movable carpet exhibition are located here.
It is the only building remained in Bukhara in memory of the great astronomer Mirzo Ulugbek. Medressah Ulugbek is a rectangular building with a courtyard and front door decorated with a high portal. The astral elements predominate Ulugbek's life philosophy: "Pursuit of knowledge is the duty of each follower of Islam, man and woman".
It was built in the first part of the 15th century. The mosque is one of the unique and biggest in Central Asia after Bibi-Khanum (Samarkand). The main entrance is finished with a big portal decorated by mosaic. The rectangular courtyard is surrounded by galleries including 288 cupolas based on 208 pillars. Occupied territory is one hectare.
Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Complex (end of the 19th — beginning of the 20th centuries) is one of the best Bukharan palaces. It is a must for tourists. The complex consists of two adjacent buildings located in the suburbs of the city. A new palace was built in 1912—1913 and boasts exceptional artistic value. The hall is decorated with the exquisite ornamental paintings and the walls are covered with mirrors. Today, a branch of the Bukhara Ethnography Museum is located here.
Bakhauddin Nakshbandi Complex (17 c.)
Sheikh Bakhauddin Nakshbandi was a cleric teacher of Amir Temur. Worship of the sheikh's sacred grave was equated with the Hadj to Mecca. In the 80ties, the complex was completely renovated and now it includes the separate courtyard with a khauz, the beautifully decorated mosques Kushbegi and Muzafarkhona, a minaret, small medressah and the burial vault of the Bukharan rulers as well.
Namazgokh Mosque (12th c.)
It was constructed outside Bukhara and the people from all the city and suburb were gathered to pray. From that time it has been changed a little bit.
Medressah Modari-khan (17th c.)
It was built by Abdulla-khan II in honour of his mother. The main facade of medressah was beautifully decorated by many-coloured brick mosaic making different geometrical designs. All the design looks very modestly.
Baland Mosque (16th c.)
Baland means "tall". Name of the mosque comes from the place of its location on the high stone base ground. This is a typical sample of the Ghuzar mosques. Mosque is very attractive because of its beautifully decorated interior.
Seifeddin Bokharzi Mausoleum
It was built above the grave of popular Central Asian mystic. Has a huge size but simple decoration. The building has a complicated plan of construction: the burial vault — gurkhona, prayer's room — ziaratkhona covered with small and big-sized cupolas. There is no decoration anywhere. The only beautifully decorated element is a splendid wooden gravestone of the 14th century established in gurkhana.
Medressah Nadira Divan-Begi
Primary it was built as a caravan-saray, being transformed to medressah in 1630. The two birds of phoenix facing a symbolic sun above the portal lead into the medreassah with its many small shops where arts and crafts are displayed. A dinner and show program with folk dance accompanied by traditional instrument and contemporary fashion is held under the stars in the courtyard.
Bordering the Lyabi-khauz square, this medressah is among the biggest and most monumental in Central Asia, with 160 hujras as well as a splendid example of "white interior". The entrance gate is of particular interest, inlay and fixtures are devoid of glue or nails and covered with heraldic ornaments.
Located just opposite the Kalyan Mosque. The main facade in the centre is finished with a portal adjoining the two-tiered loggias. In the centre of gurkhona (the burial vault) the wooden tombstone of Ubaidulla-khan is installed. Medressah is beautifully decorated with the covered mosaic. At present, the theological seminary is opened in this medressah.
The Lyabi-khauz Ensemble, bearing the same name as the khauz dug on the same site in 1620, is a majestic architectural ensemble in the centre of the city connecting the beautiful architectural monuments of the Kukeldash Khanaka and Nadira Divan-Begi medressah.
Khiva is included in the list of the wealth common to Mankind. It is one of the ancient cities of Central Asia that saved its unique architecture formed in the last two centuries. But the real age of Khiva goes deep to the history breaking the time-borders of our Epoc.
Khiva is like a fairy-tale town. Capital of Khiva Khanate in the 17th century, it has still retained the exotic flavour of a medieval town which time has not destroyed.
There is a legend according to which Khiva was founded that time when Shem the son of Noi has found the wealth here. People started to call this place Khivak reffered to Khiva.
Khiva the pearl of the Khorezm oasis impresses one with its beauty. A complete immersion into the past, concentrated and compressed into a comparatively small space enclosed by fortress walls this is Khiva. Here you can listen to the sounds of past centuries: the shouts of traders, the negotiations of buyers, the noise of crafters' workshops, the calls for evening prayer.
In modern Samarkand, amongst a wealth of historical monuments, visitors constantly "fall" from the past to the present, in Bukhara they cross the streets of history from century to century, but in Khiva they are transported to the past "forever" leaving behind the massive walls of the Ichan-Kala "a town within a town".
The Ichan-Kala surrounded by fortress walls with four gates facing in all four directions is the centre of the city. Here you may walk through the narrow streets touching the roughness of the old walls, passing under arches of buildings into the cool shade of ancient trees.
Let us climb up to the Akshi-Bobo bastion used by guards to patrol and protect the city. From here the Ichan-Kala is clearly visible.
About 20 medrassahs high-education schools are preserved in Khiva. Medrassah Mukhammad Amin-khan is the biggest one. Really remarkable peculiarity it its coupled khudjars special cells for students' living.
The Juma-Mosque is very beautiful. The date of its construction still is clearly written on the entrance: 1778/82. The 210 columns supporting the roof are very old: from the 12-15th centuries. These columns come from other ancient constructions. The columns are admired because of their intricate ornamentation.
There are many wonderful buildings outside the walls of the ancient town. The whole oasis of Khorezm is rich in memorials. Deep in the Karakum Desert, scientists found a large town, Kuzeli-Gyr, dating back 2500. A canal flowed towards the town and a deep moat surrounded the fortress. As the water disappeared, life in the town died and today only sand dunes and the grief of past centuries remains.
There are so many medressahs and mosques big and small located in the limited territory of the town that its is hard to believe while walking through the labyrinth of the oldest past of the town that a modern city churns with life just a few yards away.
The medressah is not so great with a traditional architecture but the main facade is covered with a rich decoration. The majestic 45-metre Minaret Islam-Khoja can be seen from everywhere. It is narrow at the top, with a lantern-shaped top crowned with a small cupola.
Close to the Muhammad Amin-khan Medressah it was started construction of minaret, which according to the khan's idea should be the highest one in Khiva. But because of the khan's death the construction of the minaret was not completed. That is the reason for its title Kalta Minor ("Short Minaret"). Its massive trunck coming thinner on top, is decorated with glazed bricks.
It is the oldest one in Khiva. It is located in the centre of Ichan-Kala, representing very big building without any decoration. It was constructed by slaves captured by Shigaziz-khan in his march to Khorasan. They were promised to be released after completing construction. But Shirgazi-khan delayed work and in 1726 the insurgent slaves killed him in the unfinished medressah. His mausoleum adjoins the building's main facade.
Medressah Mukhammad Amin-khan
It is the largest one in Khiva. The main characteristic of the medreassah is its hudjras (special little rooms where students live). The facade of the building is made of coloured bricks and mosaic.
It is majestic in its beauty. The date of its construction 1778/82 is inscribed above the gates. The mosque's 212 wooden columns supporting the roof are older, dating back to the 12—15th centuries. They were recovered from other old buildings that were destroyed.
It is a part of ensemble and located near the eastern gates of Ichan-Kala. The mosque represents the monumental domed hall surrounded by wooden aiwan from three sides. Foundations of the mosque were laid in 1657. As for the existing building, it was constructed in 1838—1842.
To the south-east from the Shirgaziz-khan Medressah there is a small but very outstanding building of local quartal mosque Bogbonli. It was built in the 19th century, but for its aiwan the covered wooden columns of the 15th century were used.
Seid Allauddin Mausoleum
This grown into the ground double-room monument is located between medressahs Mukhammad-Amin-khan and Matniyaz-Divan-Begi. A small burial vault with the unique majolica tombstone was constructed in the first part of the 14th century and in the 19th century it was added by spacious hall — ziaratkhona with a portal entrance.
The Akshi-Bobo Bastion
Rising above Khiva, it was used an observing area for frontier guards. The khan palace Kurinish-khana used for official meetings was here the main building. The walls of the building were faced with a rich majolica ornamented with vegetables and fruits.
It was built in memory of this respected Khivan poet. After his death he was considered a saintly protector of the city. Pakhlavan Makhmud's grave and the mausoleum of Khiva's khans are part of this complex.
Makhmud Rakhim-khan Palace
It is located in the territory of Old Fortress, known as the Kunya Ark. Walls of the palace were decorated with painted frescos. Nearby is a harem, a two-story building with many richly decorated halls and rooms.
You can find more about tourist destinations in Uzbekistan, in particular on Shakhrisabz, Surkhandarya, Ferghana Valley, Andijan, Kashkadarya and Navoiy, visiting the website of National Company "Uzbektourism" at http://www.uzbektourism.uz/en/