Samarkand is the beauty of the earth, but Bukhara is the beauty of the spirit
Traditional Bukhara, the most shameless sink of iniquity that I know in the East
Armenius Vambery (1868)
Bukhara! For centuries it had glimmered remote in the Western consciousness
The most secretive and fanatical of the great caravan cities, shored up in its desert fastness against time and change.
Colin Thubron (1994)
Bukhara the Holy, Bukhara the Noble, the Dome of Islam, the Pillar of Religion, the most intact city in the hoary East, the most interesting city in the world. This is the place where Imam Ismail Al Bukhari was born, a person who gave the Islamic world one of the best collections of Hadith (Hadis) and the most trusted ones. Uzbekistan is proud to have Bukhara as one of its most ancient cities.
The traditional founder of the city has always been the Persian prince Siyavush who built a citadel here shortly after marrying the daughter of Afrosiab in Samarkand, but its growth has for centuries depended largely upon its strategic location, uniquely placed on the crossroads of the Silk Road: Herat, Kabul and Samarkand.
The early town was taken by the Persian Achaemenids in the sixth century BC, by Alexander the Great in 329 BC and by the empires of the Hephalite and the Kushan. By Sogdian times, the town was known as Numijent, later to be renamed after the Sanskrit word for monastery - Vikhara and was a major city in the Sogdian confederation until Islam came and was well accepted in the region.
Lyabi Hauz - around the pool
Lyabi-Hauz is a plaza built around a pool in 1620 (around the pool, in Tajik), is the most peaceful and interesting spot in the town - shaded by mulberry trees as old as the pool. The old tea-sipping, chessboard-clutching Uzbek men who once inhabited this corner of town have been moved on by local entrepreneurs bent on the tourism industry. Still, the plaza maintained its old-world style and has managed to fend off the glitz to which Samarkand's Registan has succumbed.
On the east side is a statue of Hoja Nasruddin, a semi-mythical 'wise fool' who appears in teaching-tales around the world.
Further east, the Nadir Divanbegi Medressa was built as a caravan serai, but the khan thought it was a medressa and it became one in 1622. On the west side of the square, and built at the same time, is the Nadir Divanbegi Khanaka. Both are named for Abdul Aziz Khan's treasury minister, who financed them in the 17th century.
North across the street, the Kukeldash Medressa, built by Abdullah II, was at the time the biggest Islamic school in Central Asia.