While Kyrgyzstan is famous for its natural beauty, so is neighboring Uzbekistan renowned for its spectacular Silk Road architecture. From Khiva to Samarkand, the rule of Emperor Timur and the legacy of the Silk Road are evident in the magnificent caravanserais, madrassas, and mosques. Uzbekistan is the only landlocked country surrounded by landlocked countries in the world, so it needs more than beaches to attract visitors. Luckily, it does in abundance. From India to Iran, Islam had given the world some spectacular architecture, and it is also very evident in this country.
The madrassas and mosques of Samarkand are as exquisite as any buildings you will find anywhere in the world. The old town of Khiva is a living museum with its imposing buildings echoing history. In Bukhara, the soft earth-colored towers, domed, squares, and forts are all guaranteed to take you back in time. Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan. This was once the fifth largest city of the Soviet Union. Surprisingly, Tashkent is a quiet place with great hotel options as well as large leafy cafes and parks. Typically, Tashkent is a start or endpoint for many visitors to Uzbekistan.
According to the author of The Road of Oxiana, Robert Byron – there is one goal in the mind of all travelers through Central Asia and that is to see Samarkand. Pearl of Islam, Jewel of the east, Garden of the soul, Mirror of the world, Centre of the Universe, Samarkand has had poets and writers waxing lyrical for more than two millennia – and for good reason. The Registani is a public square where royal proclamations were once heard. It is surrounded by magnificent madrassas and mosques. At the time the Bibi Khanum mosque was built, it was the largest in the world. There are delicate gold inlay and exquisite carvings in Emperor Timor’s tomb. Ulam Beg’s observatory is impressive and fascinating.
Bukhara is a sleepy town brimming over with magnificent sites. Kolan Minaret is probably the most famous. This 150-foot high square was once used as a means of execution by Nazarullah Khan, a 19th-century ruler. Other notable of 40 pillars, the Char Minar mosque, and the impregnable citadel. There is also great shopping in Bukhara where you will find all types of trinkets, spice, shawls, and carpets. In the 19th century, Khiva was one of the most powerful Khanates but it has now grown into a sumptuous walled city. One of the great experiences here is watching the sunrise over the old town. Uzbekistan is not just about ancient monuments; there are also beautiful mountains and hills, the fascinating and extraordinary Aral Sea and the famous art collection at Nukus.