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Home : Holidays : Asia : Uzbekistan : Uzbekistan - History and Present

Uzbekistan - History and Present

Uzbekistan has well preserved relics from the time when Central Asia was a center of empire, education, and trade. Uzbekistan cities including Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Shakhrisabz and Tashkent live on in the imagination of the West as symbols of oriental beauty and mystery.

Ancient cities of Uzbekistan were located on the ancient Silk Road, the trading route between China and the West. The route took its name from silk, the commodity most in demand in Europe from China during the Roman period. Some of the most influential and savage conquerors came and ruled these lands. Alexander the Great set up at least 8 cities in Central Asia between 334 - 323 BC before the caravans began traveling through the Silk Road after around 138 BC China opened its border to trade. Between 484 - 1150 Huns, Turks and Arabs came from the west and the latest brought with them a new religion of Islam. Many mosques and Madrassahs were built in Uzbekistan cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva during this period, including remaining structures of the Samanids. Most of the cities were destroyed during the invasion of the Genghis Khan in 1220. Later Timur, known also as Tamerlane, resurrected once famous cities by using the labor of slaves and artists captured during successful crusades. Timur conquered Persia, captured Baghdad, and lead expeditions to Anatolia and India. Most of the architecture that is found in Samarkand was build by Timur and his grandson Ulugbek.

Uzbekistan Cities

  • Samarkand, Uzbekistan

One of the oldest cities of Uzbekistan and in the world is Samarkand, established during the middle of the first century BC under the name Marakanda and later known as Afrosiab. It was the capital of the powerful state Sogd, the center of Emir Timur's great empire. The numerous monuments of Samarkand and its suburbs impress tourist with their beauty and splendor. The refined architectural shapes, intricate ornamentation, mosaics, blue-tile domes and facades are interesting for all who visit theses beautiful buildings.

Samarkand, Uzbekistan 


  • Bukhara, Uzbekistan

The settlement of Bukhara in Uzbekistan dates back to the 8th century when it was for 200 years the center of an expanding Islamic kingdom and prospered as a trade and intellectual center for Central Asia. During the Mongol invasion, It was destroyed by Genghis Khan in 1219. Subsequently it was ruled by a succession of regional powers, including descendants of Genghis Khan, Turks, and Uzbeks. Once one of Islam's most sacred cities, Bukhara contains many examples of fine Islamic architecture. 

Bukhara, Uzbekistan
 

  • Khiva, Uzbekistan

Khiva is known as a museum city under the open sky. It existed as a town for about 900 years, but developed into the settlement seen today only in the 19th century, when it was the last oasis on the northern Russian slave trade rout. Important spiritual and cultural values came form the large scientific centers of astronomy, mathematics, and medicine that existed in this area centuries ago. One can wander through the narrow streets of Khiva, peeking into the small courtyards through the wooden carved doors. The life inside the gardens assures the visitor that it is not just a museum, but also a living city.

Khiva, Uzbekistan


  • Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Although Tashkent was probably first settled around the 1st century BC, written records date the city to its Arab occupation in the 8th century AD. The 13th-century defeat to Genghis Khan and his Mongolian forces threw Tashkent into an era of turmoil. The Mongols lost the city in the 14th century when the Timurids Empire seized control. The Timurids Empire ruled Tashkent until the late 15th century, when the Sheibanids swept through the region. Today, Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan.

Tashkent, Uzbekistan


  • Baysun, Uzbekistan

Do you wish to travel into time that will transfer you to a forbidden territory that keeps the memory of culture of Greek and Baktrian and Kushan kingdoms that fell into oblivion of heathen ceremonies of fire-worshippers, and shaman cults? Trade caravans traveled here through Iron Gates in narrow mountain canyon for thousands years. Armies of Alexander the Great, Chengiz Khan, Tamerlan passed through this area.
 

Baysun, Uzbekistan


Great Silk Road

Great Silk Road

The Great Silk Road, the commerce route between the East and West, was not a single road, but consisted of a network of routes, connecting the West (mainly Rome ) to the East (especially China ). Some of those roads went through Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Also, the Great Silk Road not only served for transporting silk, but all kinds of goods were exchanged between the big empires. The traders did not go from one end to the other, but travelled only a short part of the route, trading their goods in the big cities of the Silk road , buying others, and going back.

The Great Silk Road existed already more than 2000 years ago, but its most flourishing time was in the 2 nd century. In the mid of the first millennium, the popularity began to decline, as the sea routes were becoming easier accessible and its importance as a connector between different, far away from each other people disappeared slowly. Shorter parts of the routes nonetheless were being upheld as local trading routes.

The fascination of the Great Silk Road is for a big part due to its intercultural importance: People of all different cultures and religions met in the trading towns and exchanged, besides goods, also ideas, opinions, attitudes, traditions, philosophies, knowledge and much more. Tolerance was absolutely necessary and one of the most important values, and out of the yearning for such an open world probably the very special attractiveness of the Great Silk Road arises.