Ancient Cities

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Uzbekistan’s historical heritage is very big and the biggest part of this heritage is represented by ancient cities. Even though they are called ‘ancient’, they are still active and prosper. In antique times there were powerful states of Baktria and Sogdiana. The ruins of the ancient fortress of Merv, Khorezm, Pendjikent and Afrosiab which kept hither to remind of those times. Here, in the Middle Ages a huge empire of Amir Temur was prospering. Wonderfully kept monuments of those times - Mausoleum of Amir Temur, Registan square and others will tell you about the grandeur of the epoch. But even modern aspect of the cities and valleys, picturesque East bazaars, original culture and traditions of local people won’t leave anyone indifferent.


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


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 Amir 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 these beautiful buildings.


The settlement of Bukhara in Uzbekistan dates back to the 8th century when it was the center of an expanding Islamic kingdom for 200 years and prospered as a trade and intellectual center of Central Asia. During the Mongol invasion, Bukhara 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.


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. Important spiritual and cultural values came from 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.


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, Genghis Khan, Amir Timur passed through this area.


Amir Timur’s hometown Shakhrisabz is a small town south of Samarkand. By the time of birth of Timur on 9th of April 1336 at the village of Hoja Ilghar, 13 km to the south from Kesh (former name of Shakhrisabz), Kesh was ruled by the Barlas clan, Mongols of the Chaghatai khanate.

Using his Barlas lineage, Timur gathered a band of followers, who helped him to become from a sheep-rustler to the lord of the valley by the age of 25. A decade later he became a lord of the whole Transoxiana, making the Samarkand the capital of his empire. As he rose to power, Timur paid great effort to strengthen and beautify Kesh. He built Ak Saray, the white palace, surrounded it by high walls and a deep moat, crossed by drawbridge, and laid out green gardens which gave a new name of Shakhrisabz ("A Green Town" in tajik).