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Where to go in Uzbekistan

Hast Imam Square

Uzbekistan

Hast Imam is literally translated into “the first saint.” This stunning holy complex lying in the heart of Tashkent houses three eminent mausoleums: the Barak-Khan madrasah, Tilla-Sheikh mosque, and the mausoleum of the saint Abu Bakr Kaffal Shashi.

Hast Imam is the sanctuary of approximately 20,000 books and 3,000 manuscripts brought from different parts of the world. In fact, one of the most famous Qurans in the world, the Othman Quran, is well preserved in this solemn complex.

On Fridays, thousands of Muslims from different parts of Uzbekistan flock to Hast Imam to worship. As early as five o’clock in the morning, people are already coming in to pray before they begin their workday.

Fergana Valley

Uzbekistan

Fergana Valley is the largest desert basin found between the Pamir and Tian Shan mountains. It is fed by two rivers, the Kara Darya (“black river”) and the Naryn, which flows from the Tian Shan. These two rivers eventually merge to form one of the largest rivers in Central Asia, the Syr Darya.

The valley is a must-visit for people looking forward to understanding Uzbek farming. A lot of produce – fruits, grains, vegetables, and the area’s major product, cotton – come from this valley.

Visitors are welcome to visit Fergana Valley’s vast cotton fields and fruit orchards. Other places of interest in the valley include silk shops and colorful bazaars.

Samarkand

Samarkand

Samarkand, a UNESCO World Heritage site whose name literally means “rock town” or “stone fort,” is perhaps the most renowned city of the modern Uzbekistan.

This majestic city lies at the center of Silk Road, the trade route where China met the West.

Here in the city of Samarkand, you will behold an amazing collection of ancient architectural structures.

Guri Amir Mausoleum, or “the tomb of the king,” is the tomb of Tamerlane, the founder of Central Asia’s Timurid dynasty in the 14th century. The building has a very simple construction, which gives it a very formal regal appearance. It is ornamented with rich mosaics made of blue and white tiles. Inside, you will find a high chamber with arches decorated with gilded papier-mâché cartouches

The Registan, which means “sandy place,” is another must-see destination. Here you will find three grand madrasahs (Muslim schools): the Ulugbek Madrasah, the Sher-Dor Madrasah, and the Tilya-Kori Madrasah (1646–1660).

It was once the center of public activities – including royal proclamations and public executions. It was, for many centuries, the heart of the city. Today, it is one of Uzbekistan’s biggest crowd drawers.

Khiva

Khiva

Entering Khiva is like stepping out of a time machine and stepping into a centuries-old Orient town devoid of modernized buildings and big trees. In fact, Khiva is one of Uzbekistan’s museum cities.

Even today, in modern times, Khiva is still sprawling with citadels such as the Kunya Ark (meaning “old fortress”) and a palace called the Tash-Kauli.

Like most Uzbek destinations, Khiva is also filled with imposing and intricate madrasahs, minarets and mosques.

But what truly sets it apart from other Uzbek destinations is the intricacy of the wood carvings that you will find in the structures here. Beautiful patterns and complex designs are carved into doors and columns all over the palaces and buildings in Khiva.

With Khiva’s magnificent architectural specimens, visitors are in for a visual feast as they walk on the city’s paved streets.

Tashkent

TashkentTashkent is one of the cities on the Great Silk Road. Today, it is Uzbekistan’s capital city and the country’s political, cultural and economic center.

If there’s something that Tashkent has a lot of, it’s mausoleums. One of these is the Kaldyrgach-bly Mausoleum, the oldest one in Tashkent. Others are the mausoleums of Abubakr Muhammad Kaffal Shashi, one of the world’s first imams, and the mausoleum of Zainuddin-bobo Sheikh, who is the son of the founded the Sufi order.

Tashkent also has an old town filled with mosques, Asian bazaars and madrasahs. The old town’s winding streets, courtyards and ancient buildings are a must-see for anybody taking a trip to Uzbekistan.

Chor-Minor

Chor-MinorChor-Minor is one of the most prominent structures in the city of Bukhara. It was commissioned by a rich Bukharian, Khalif Niazkul, in 1807.

The most striking feature of the Chor-Minor is its four minarets, each topped with a sky-blue cupola.

Although the cupolas may look identical at first glance, one will find upon closer examination that each, in fact, has its own shape and design, making this monument a truly interesting addition to the city skyline.

The four minarets were meant to symbolize the four Bukhara dynasties: the Mangyts, the Sheibanids, the Samanids, and the Karakhanids.

Just beneath the dome is a library through which one can enter the minarets. A laidback courtyard with a small pond also lies on the grounds of Chor-Minor.

Bukhara

Bukhara

The ancient city of Bukhara is one of the holiest places of worship in Central Asia. But it’s not just about religion. With its architecture remaining untouched for centuries, Bukhara is also a showcase for the old glamour of Central Asia in the years long past.

Bukhara is one of the most well-preserved historical sites in Uzbekistan. Its restoration has been funded and prioritized by the government.

Largely because of this support, Bukhara has not lost any of its grandeur. It was able to retain the original structures of its madrasahs, the famed Uzbek market complex in the city center, and the imposing royal fortress with walls that tower over the ancient city.

Most visitors come to Bukhara to view its protected buildings. Talking a walk through town is a great way to experience Uzbek history and view more closely the city’s well-preserved architecture.

Stay until dusk in order to appreciate the city more. Watch as the sunny skies slowly turn into dusk, bathing the city’s domes and intricate mosaics with a beautiful golden light.

Charvak Lake

Charvak Lake

A huge man-made lake, Charvak Lake, is a favorite summer destination of Uzbeks and their guests.

This artificial lake was created by putting up a dam, the Charvak Hydropower Station, in the Chirchiq River.

Today, the Charvak Lake functions as a resort. Lodges, conference halls, bars, food chains are now in found in the area. Locals and tourists alike come to enjoy the picturesque view of the lake against the majestic mountainous background.

Mir-i-Arab

The Mir-i-Arab Madrasah is a massive monument founded in the 16th century. Not much else is certain about its creation.

What is certain is that it is one of the most breathtaking monuments in all of Uzbekistan.

The edifice’s enormous size alone is astounding. In addition, the madrasah is elaborately decorated with beautiful calligraphy and mosaics on its walls. Behind the main façade, you will find the tomb of Mir-i-Arab.

The madrasah has more than a hundred cells for students to stay in. Many famous religious and political figures got their education from the madrasah of Mir-i-Arab.

In fact, as of today, over a hundred students are enrolled in the renowned institution.

Samani Mausoleum

Samani MausoleumThe Samani Mausoleum holds the remains of Ismail Samani, the founder of Samanid dynasty. It is also the tomb of his grandson and his father.

It is one of the oldest monuments in the city of Bukhara and one of the most beautiful man-made structures in all of Central Asia.

The mausoleum boasts of ornate terracotta brickwork, which fortified by 2-meter-thick walls that are so well built, they have never required significant restoration in all the mausoleum’s 1,100 years of existence.

An especially fascinating fact is that as the sun moves across the sky and the light changes its direction, the designs on the terracotta seem to move and change.

Today, the area around the mausoleum is called the Samanids Recreational Park.