Tashkent is one of the most ancient cities in Central Asia. It has been founded more than 2 thousand years ago. During the different periods it was called as Chach, Shash and Binkent. For the first time the name «Tashkent» («the City of stones, a stone city») meets in XI century. The City has arisen in a densely populated valley on border of dwelling settled and nomad tribes as trading centre. In the beginning of XIX century Tashkent had appearance of a typical eastern city: low mud houses with flat roofs, narrow streets over which domes of mosques and madrassah rose. Changes have begun in second half of XIX century when the city became the centre of Turkestan krai. In Tashkent appeared the so-called «Russian city» with avenues, parks and houses constructed in the European style. In XX century the city has absolutely changed: Its population has grown more than in 10 times, appeared industrial enterprises.
In the city remained the ancient monuments among which are the architectural constructions of XV-XVI centuries: madrassah of Muslim mystic Khodzha Ahror, madrassah of the governor Yunus – Khan, madrassah of Kukaldosh, the mausoleum of Muslim theologian Kaffal Shashi, the mausoleum of ancestor of Khodzha Ahrar — Sheikh – antour, etc. In the suburbs of Tashkent there is an architectural complex erected by Timur in honour of Saint Zangi – Ota. Today Tashkent is a large cultural and science centre. Here there are a number of museums, theatres, cinemas, libraries, scientific and educational institutions.
The Uzbek capital also operates as a scientific center. Present the Academy of Sciences, the Art Academy, the Academy of Armed Forces, the University of World Economy and Diplomacy, the University of World Languages, the National Institute, the Institute of Law and the Islamic University are located in Tashkent. The six universities and numerous institutes in Tashkent educate more than 90 000 young people from all the provinces of Uzbekistan and further afield. There is a series of special sight-seeing tours where guests can see and experience the harmonic combination of modern architecture with historical monuments. Examples are the Kukeldash madrassah on Chorsu square built in the 16th century, the Kaffal Shashi mausoleum also from the 16th century, Kukeldsash madrassah and the others. As was the case long ago, so it is today - we continue to say our guests and friends as we did centuries ago: "Hush kelibsiz", welcome on Tashkent's hospitable soil!In 2007, Tashkent was named the cultural capital of the Islamic world as the city is home to numerous historic mosques and religious establishments.
SAMARKAND – one of the most ancient cities of the world was formed approximately in V BC. It existed under the name Marakanda even by the middle of 1000 BC and was the capital of Sogdiana. Later the old part of ancient Samarkand was renamed Afrosiab. Samarkand was the capital of Temur Empire in XIV-XV centuries. The history of Samarkand goes back to VI BC when it was ruled by Akhemenids empire, ruled by Alexander the Great in 4 BC. In "Divanu lugatit turk"(XI C) Samarkand was called as "Semizkand"("Fat city").
Historically, Samarkand has faced many periods of upheaval and decay, it has taken a difficult historical path. Every period in the life of Samarkand has its characteristics, embodying the spirit of the times. Throughout the years of its existence, Samarkand has played a great role in the historical, political, economic and cultural life of Central Asia. Its favorable geographical location was very important. The city is situated in a fertile and well developed part of the Zarafshan Valley, along the Great Silk Road from China to Byzantium.
Places of interest in Samarkand:
REGHISTAN(«sandy site») — one of the most known places of Samarkand. In the Middle Ages served as the central city square. It is the architectural ensemble from three massive buildings — madrassahs:
ULUGBEK'S MADRASSAH — the western building of 1417 year. There studied about 100 students.
MADRASSAH TILLYA-KARI («Gilt» pers.) — the central architectural group with the mosque of the same name built in 1660.
MADRASSAH SHERDOR («With lions» pers.) — east group of 1636 year.
BIBI-KHANYM MOSQUE - The gigantic mosque, powerful and shapely even in ruins, was finished shortly before Timur's death, and must have been the jewel of his empire. The majestic ruins of the Bibi-Khanym mosque give an idea about the building techniques and architecture of their time, leaving an indelible impression.
GUR-EMIR MAUSOLEUM. The Emir's grave with its splendid bright dome is a masterpiece of historic architecture.
SHAKHI – ZINDA (literally, «living king») — a monument of medieval architecture. Ensemble of memorial-worship constructions of XIV-XV centuries, decorated with multi-color majolica. It consists of eleven mausoleums, consistently build one after another during ÕIV-ÕV centuries.
ULUGBEK'S OBSERVATORY — one of the most considerable observatories of the Middle Ages, constructed by Ulugbek in 1424-1428, on a hill of Kuhak in the environs of Samarkand. The observatory has been discovered by archeologist V. Vyatkin in 1908.
BAZAAR SIYAB. Oriental Bazaar in old part of the city represent a feast to the eyes with fresh fruits, vegetables and most exotic spices and local delicatessen.
MEROS CENTRE – visit to local craftsmen center and getting experience of different crafts like ceramics, toy-making, needlework, painting and etc. Tourists will participate in the process and may prepare something for themselves. The highlight of the visit is the process of making Samarkand paper from mulberry tree."AISHA" SILK PROCESSING WORKSHOP – Here tourists can see all the stages of natural silk production. It is also a good opportunity to buy fashion cloth that no one other will have. Valentina Romanenko – designer and owner of the atelier is known around the world and ladies from different countries come back here after visiting once. Her hand fashioned original designs are fashioned from stunning hand painted silks, antique laces, traditional suzanie embroidery & apliqued designs enhanced with her planet-based secret dying techniques.
Shakhrisabz is a unique town-building and architectural monument of Central Asia.
It holds a special place among other historical cities of Central Asia.
Shakhrisabz is situated at the foothills of Zerafshan mountain range, at the altitude of 658 m above sea level, 80 km away from legendary Samarkand. The road to this town lies through the high mountainous pass of Takhta-Karacha.
This ancient town witnessed the troops of Alexander the Great and hordes of Genghis khan. In the XV century, during governing of Amir Timur (Tamerlane), Kesh was surrounded by the fortress walls and became a big center under name of Shakhrisabz which means "Green town". Though Shakhrisabz was a hometown of Tamerlane, it never became a capital of his empire, but during his governing, it became the center of trade, handicraft, science and culture. Shakhrisabz is indeed the center where a peculiar style of architecture was originated and later this style spread in other medieval cities of Timurids period.
The architectural monuments, erected in Timurids era, astonish the whole world to present day.
The Ak-Saray Palace is the main architectural monument of Shakhrisabz . The name of the Palace had nothing to do with its color (Ak-Saray means "White Palace"), but with its elegance and grandness. The palace was constructed more than 20 years (1380-1405), but unfortunately, only two pylons of the entrance portal have remained up to this day. The Spanish envoy R. Gonzales de Clavijo, having traveled via Shakhrisabz in 1404, found it still under construction and described it in detail. He described the main entrance as being very long and portal very high. He also mentioned the magnificent parks and a big fruit garden attached to the dwelling part of the Palace. Besides, there was a water pool over the ark that kept the Palace cool.
Shakhrisabz is one of the unique towns of Uzbekistan with several medieval mausoleums. One of them is Dorus Siadat - ruins of the memorial which was to serve as Timurids burial-vault. The earliest of these mausoleums is the mausoleum of Sheikh Shamsuddin Kulyal, Timur's spiritual mentor. In 1373-1374 Timur's father Taragai was also buried near Sheikh's grave, "at his feet".
Timur's eldest son Jekhangir died in 1376 at the age of 20 and his corpse was removed to Shakhrisabz where masters from Khorezm erected a burial- vault on Timur's instructions.
Jekhangir's mausoleum is highest building of this complex. The height of dome is 18m.
Next monument is The Kok Gumbaz Mosque ("Blue cupola"), built in 1435 by Ulugbek. This mosque was erected in the usual place of public worship, on the foundations of a Juma (for prayers every Friday) mosque that was put up at the time of Karakhanids in the
«Bukhoroi-sharif» — «Blessed Bukhara» is one of the numerous epithets which this ancient city was awarded. Great poets of the East of IX-XV centuries, Rudaki, Dakiki and Firdousi devoted to it kasidas(verses). Bukhara is one of the most ancient cities of Uzbekistan(more than 2500 years). The centre of Bukhara region. In ancient time it was a part of Sogd — one of the provinces of Central Asia, where already at the times of Alexander the Great the town-planning structure was well developed.
Its modern appearance Bukhara obtained at the times of Sheybanids and Ashtarkhanids dynasties in XVI-XVII centuries. In that period when there have been constructed the majority of its amazing mosques and madrassahs, caravans-sheds and baths, fortifications and gates, and also large architectural ensembles and tombs. The city preserved up to now the walls of the ancient citadel Ark, more than 140 architectural monuments of the Muslim epoch: the Poi-kalon minaret of XII century, Kukeldash and Ulughbek madrassahs of XI-XVI centuries, Lyabi-Khauz of XVI-XVII centuries, the mausoleum of Ismail Samani of IX-X centuries, amazing quarters and narrow small streets of the old part of the town. In the remained monuments one can trace the features of four local original architectural schools showing the outstanding skills of ancient Bukhara architects.
The major part of the centre of Bukhara is the architectural zone mostly occupied by former madrassahs. Emir castle the Ark (Õ-ÕIÕ centuries) became now a museum. Just opposite the Ark is a mosque Bolo-Khauz — the official prayer place of the Emir, it was constructed in 1718. By narrow small streets lengthways the Ark you can walk to the small square with Poi-kalon complex which consists of the Kalon mosque (XVI century) — one of majestic buildings of the Central Asia, with the capacity of up to 10 thousand people; madrassah Miri-Arab — operating Islamic seminary, and the Kalon minaret — a 47 meter tower (10 meters in depth) which can be seen practically from any part of the old town. In the centre of the old town there is the Lyabi – Khauz ensemble with its elegant constructions round the small pool surrounded with mulberry trees. Street dealers and old men behind chessboards and tea settled here. In its eastern part you can see the Nadir-Divan Begui.
Khiva — in the ancient time — Khorasmiya, later known as Khvarezmi — Khoresm, in the past it was the large khanate on the west of Central Asia, to the south from The Aral sea. Now it is the territory of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
Khoresm more than once repulsed the attacks of such severe conquerors as Alexander the Great and Kuteyba Ibn – Muslim. They attacked Gurgange but failed to subdue the whole khanate. Only incorporated armies of Chingiz-khan managed to do so. After a half-year siege they have destroyed dams, and the Amudarya has flooded Gurgandzh. The city has been wiped off the face of the earth, 100 thousands were killed, and each soldier took with him 24 captives. Only in 200 years the capital of Khoresm has been re-built again. Five times Tamerlane raided Khoresm, but only in 1388 he managed to conquer it.
In IX-XII centuries, along with Islamic educational institutions, in Khoresm functioned large scientific centers: astronomic, mathematic, chemical, medical etc. «The house of wisdom», actually academy of sciences which was created in Bagdad by governor of that time Al-Mamun, was supervised by native khorezmian Muhammad-al-Khorezmi. In IX century its fundamental works on mathematics, geography, and geodesy were known in Europe and have not lost their value up to nowadays. A huge scientific heritage has been left by Al-Beruniy, Agahi, Najmiddin Kubro and many other scientists and theologians, whose names also are connected with Khoresm.
Most of the architectural monuments in Khiva are concentrated in its center — Ichan-Kala. It is the «city inside a city», enclosed with massive fortifications with four gates, facing each part of the world. Along the line, connecting the western and eastern gates are concentrated the main part of the monuments.
From the observation tower of Ak-Sheikh-bobo Ichan-Kala is visible clearly. The unusual silhouette of Kalta-Minor minaret draws one's attention, seems like it was cut off to the middle. Its massive trunk, elegantly decorated with wide and narrow belts of glazed brick, shows that it was planed to be a grandiose, majestic construction, the main vertical of the city. But after death of the governor during which the minaret was constructed, it was left unfinished and soon received the name «Kalta» — «Short».
On the territory of Kunya-Arc («Old fortress») — the palace of Muhammad – Rakhimhan is located. Its interiors have a rich and unusual decor: hall walls are decorated by carving on plaster with coloring. The next two-storied building is a harem, it has many rich chambers and living rooms.
Ferghana Valley is a unique place of Central Asia where one can see sands, mountains and fields. The valley is surrounded by the Tian Shan range to the north and Alley to the south.
The only exit from the valley is "Bekabad Gates ", which is 20 meters wide. The territory of the valley is 77.9 thousand square meters. The elevation is 300-1000 meters above the sea level. The Ferghana Valley is made up of three regions (viloyats). They are Ferghana, Namangan and Andijan regions.
One of the first sources in which the Ferghana Valley is described belongs to Chinese visitors. Chinese used to call this place the State of Davan. Chinese diplomat Chjan Zian writes.
About the rich farming, agriculture and craftsmanship of the valley which certifies that the people led a non-nomadic way of life. Owing to the archaeological expeditions organized in Soviet times a few dwellings of a primitive person were found.
It was Davan (The Ferghana Valley) that gave an impetus to the development of The Great Silk Road.
Such unique architectural monuments as Buddhist Temple remains near Kuva and Friday mosque of Kokand astonishing with its size and the beauty of its 98 columns sit in Ferghana Valley. Many monuments date back to the 18-19th centuries, which was the height of Kokand khanate.
The abundance of local architectural monuments in Kokand, Andijan and Namangan attracts a great number of guests from all over the world. A special interest is displayed to Hudoyar-khan Palace built in late 19th century, which became the symbol of the whole valley. Kokand was the capital of Kokand khanate from the 18th to the 20th century, which was one of the three states on the territory of present Uzbekistan after the collapse of Shaybanid Empire.
Margilan, one of the most ancient cities of Ferghana Valley, is presently considered to be the center of silk-weaving in Uzbekistan. Silk fabrics manufactured here were well-known for their picturesque and the rich ornament and color.
Rishtan is famous for its ceramics masters. This craft is still in place owing to a few craftsman families passing the secrets of output from generation to generation. Rishtan ceramics stands out with its rich decor where the blue color dominates.
Termez is the cradle of Buddhism in Central Asia. Present Termez, which is the regional center of Surkhandarya province, was founded around Russian garrison fortress in the 19th century.
The city is located on the right bank of the Amudarya (Oxus) river where the Syrkhandarya River flows into it at the Afghan border.
Surkhandarya province is separated from the rest part of the republic by the mountains which are not very high to local measure: Kugitangtau in the west, Gissar mountain range in the north and Babatag in the east. These mountain massifs create a unique subtropical climate in the region. Termez is the hottest town in Uzbekistan with very warm winter and long hot summer.
Today's Surkhandarya used to be a part of Bactria whose capital was ancient Balh, which is presently in Afghanistan. The city itself is in the list of the most ancient cities of Central Asia.
Goods from India, China, and Parthia and even from Roman Empire were brought to the city's bazaars. The arts and architecture, also affected by this International exchange, breed a unique combination of Indian, Iranian, Greek and local arts. A number of Buddhist temples such as Zurmala, Fayaz-Tepe, Kara-Tepe date back to this period. Their ruins are still in place on the outskirts of Termez.
Termez was at its height of prosperity in this period. This time was the zenith of economic development, trade and crafts. The port and fortress were reconstructed and the city was expanded due to fortification constructions built around new districts.
Such great monuments as Hakim-at- Termizi and Sultan Saodat mausoleums date back to this period. In 1220 Termez was invaded and completely destroyed by Mongol hordes of Genghis khan, which led to total desolation up to the XIV century. In the second half of XIV century in the epoch of Timurids reign, the city revives and becomes a large center of Timur's and Timurids state till XVI century. In XVI century Sheybanids conquer the city and again the city was in complete desolation till XIX century.
Kashgar is said to mean "variegated houses". Kashgar is sited west of the Taklamakan Desert at the feet of the Tian Shan mountain range, south of Argu Tagh mountain range.
Situated at the junction of routes from the valley of the Oxus, from Khokand and Samarkand, Almati, Aksu, and Khotan, the last two leading from China and Pakistan, Kashgar has been noted from ancient times as a political and commercial centre.
The Kashgar oasis is where both the northern and southern routes from China around the Taklamakan Desert converge. It is also almost directly north of Tashkurgan through which traffic passed from the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Gandhara, in what is now Pakistan, and Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan.
The earliest mention of Kashgar is when the Chinese Han Dynasty envoy traveled the Northern Silk Road to explore lands to the west.
Another early mention of Kashgar is during the Former Han (also known as the Western Han Dynasty), when the Chinese conquered the Xiongnu, Yutian (Khotan), Sulei (Kashgar), and a group of states in the Tarim basin almost up to the foot of the Tian Shan mountains. This happened in 76 BC.
Contemporaneously, Nestorian Christians were establishing bishoprics at Herat, Merv and Samarkand, whence they subsequently proceeded to Kashgar, and finally to China itself.
After another defeat of the Chinese forces in 670, the Tibetans gained control of the whole region and completely subjugated Kashgar in 676-8 and retained possession of it until 692, when China regained control of all their former territories, and retained it for the next fifty years.
Kashgar's Old City has been called "the best-preserved example of a traditional Islamic city to be found anywhere in Central Asia, but it is now being raised by the Chinese government which plans to replace the old buildings with new." "The demolition of swaths of the Old Town of Kashgar is being carried out in the name of modernization and safety. The famed trading hub on the Silk Road, on which caravans carrying silk and jade from China crossed with merchants from Central Asia bringing furs and spices, will effectively disappear. . . . A small area visited by tourists seeking a flavour of Kashgar's rich history will be preserved." At present, it is estimated to attract more than one million tourist visitors annually.
The huge Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China, is located in the heart of the city.
An 18-m (59 ft) high statue of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong in Kashgar is one of the few large-scale statues of Mao remaining in China. The tomb of Abakh Khoja in Kashgar is considered the holiest Muslim site in Xinjiang. Built in the 17th century, the tiled mausoleum 5 km (3.1 mi) northeast of the city centre also contains the tombs of five generations of his family. Abakh was a powerful ruler, controlling Khotan,Yarkand, Korla,Kucha and Aksu as well as Kashgar. Among some Uyghur Muslims, he was considered a prophet, second only to Mohammed in importance.