LIFESTYLE

UZBEKISTAN SAMARKAND: Crossroads of cultures


The greatest poets and philosophers of the world have given the city many names – the garden of the soul, the pearl of the east, the mirror of the world and even the face of the earth. However, they was not be able to describe the beauty and richness of this beautiful city

Uzbekistan is a mysterious country of the East, where the history of cities gathered in legends, where the sun shines all year round and this reflects the unique nature and beautiful hearts of people. Due to its rich history, the movement of a large number of different nationalities across the territory, Uzbekistan combining eastern and western civilizations became a country with a rich culture and interethnic harmony.

In the far east of this desert country, Samarkand is located – a city of extraordinary beauty and turbulent history. The cultural heritage of Samarkand is quite large, for many centuries the city has been a key centre of the Great Silk Road.


Samarkand was included in the List of “50 cities worth visiting in this life”


At the beginning of the XXI century, the city was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List under the name “Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures”. Having visited the city, you will be surprised with the number of historical monuments located here.

HISTORY

Did you know that Samarkand is the same age as such ancient capitals of the world as Rome and Nanjing? Yes! The city founded about 2,750 years ago, which gives it the right to be called one of the most ancient cities not only in Central Asia, but in the world as well.

For more than 2,700 years, the walls of this city were silent witnesses to numerous significant events in the history of civilization – Alexander the Great passed through its gates, it was almost destroyed by Genghis Khan in 1220, and numerous Arab invaders “passed through”.


Magnificent, colorful mosaics, religious symbols and abstract geometric patterns are considered the hallmark of Uzbekistan


The peak of prosperity of the city falls on the reign of Amir Temur (Tamerlane) and his descendants. At that time, Samarkand became the capital of his mighty empire. There is a legend about how Temur has chosen his capital. In order to make a choice, he ordered his subjects to ride through all the cities and hang a ram carcass on their gates and a month later personally bypassed them. At all the gates, the carcasses decayed, and only at the gates of Samarkand, it was almost completely intact and even became wilted. Had seen this, Temur said: “This city has the cleanest air and healthy land. The capital will be here”! Tamerlane’s grandson, Mirzo Ulugbek, made this city the centre of world science.

The heart of Samarkand has always been the Registan, a public square where people gathered to attend celebrations, listen to royal proclamations, and where public executions took place. During the medieval period, it housed three madrasas, the Ulug Beg Observatory and the Shah-i-Zinda, a magnificent mausoleum complex built in the 15th century in honor of Kusam ibn Abbas, who brought Islam to this area.

Samarkand is known for a large number of mosques, and the one that is particularly important to mention is the mosque named after Tamerlane’s wife Bibi Khanym, who, according to legend, built it. It is one of the tallest buildings in Samarkand, and was destroyed in an earthquake in 1897, after which it was reconstructed.

Modern Samarkand is divided into two parts: the old city and the new city that developed during the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. The old town includes historical monuments, shops and old private houses, while the new city includes administrative buildings along with cultural centers and educational institutions.

CLIMATE

The climate of Samarkand has a pronounced seasonality. Winters are usually mild and temperatures do not often fall below 0°C. Cold snap is very rare and mostly at night, so do not forget to take a warm sweater and scarf. Summer is very hot, so do not forget to bring a hat and sunglasses with you.

GIFTS AND SOUVENIRS

Samarkand souvenir shops can make happy the fans of woodcrafts, textile and other materials. By tradition, most of the workshops are placed in the old madrassas and all crafts are hand-made by local artisans. However, in Samarkand, in addition to the usual souvenirs, you can find several more features that you will not find in other regions of the country.

First of all, we advise you to visit the Siab bazaar, which is located next to the Bibi Khanum Mosque, almost in the centre of the old part of Samarkand. This market is abundant of dried fruits, nuts and sweets. Among other things, the Samarkand flatbread and halva can be distinguished. Also in the Samarkand region, there is a paper-mill called “Meros”. Its masters have kept the method of preparing paper from mulberry bark. This method originated in the X-XI century and was particularly durable. At this factory, you can buy unusual paper crafts, such as postcards, notebooks, masks, and even dresses, dolls and handbags.

Samarkand is called an invaluable treasury of the culture of the Central Asian nations. The greatest monuments of medieval architecture have been survived here – architectural forms and murals of incredible beauty and each of them deserves special attention. Once Fred Barnard said, “One look is worth a thousand words”. Therefore, welcome to Samarkand – pearl of the East and the garden of the soul!


Everything that I heard about Samarkand is all true, absolutely everything! Except is one thing: it turned out to be more beautiful than I could imagine

Alexander the Great

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