Central Asia has always been a cultural and intellectual crossroads.
Discover 2500 years of history as you travel through Uzbekistan - minarets soar towards the sky, bazaars bustle with commerce and blue-tiled madrasahs sparkle in the sunlight. The Uzbeks are hospitable, gregarious, generous and universally kind so it may well be the people that leave the most lasting impression!Read More...
A fascinating ancient city which sees an interesting mix of modern office buildings, hotels and parks alongside crumbling Soviet-style apartment blocks. Visit the Barak Khan Madrasah, the world’s oldest Uthman Quran (8th century).
A majestic city which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with monuments of ancient architecture, a heritage of scientists and arts schools and artisans’ workshops. Visit the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, one of the most impressive historic mosques in Central Asia. Immerse yourself in the colours, scents and sounds of the Siab bazaar with an abundance of produce and handicrafts.
A living museum city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 140 monuments dotted about the city. Explore the former capital of the powerful Emirate of Bukhara, the most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia. The centre is an architectural preserve, full of madrasahs, minarets, a massive royal fortress and the remnants of a market complex.
Once an important trade hub situated along the Great Silk Road, it is now a sleepy town which is split into the old and new town. The old town is a labyrinth of narrow mud-walled alleyways and stunning blue mosaics.
Located in the north-east of Uzbekistan and a treasured destination which attracts visitors with stunning ruins and beautiful architecture, with well-preserved monuments and buildings dating back to the 11th century.
The best time to go is during April – June with clear skies, sunshine and cool air creating perfect conditions. July can be extremely hot. In September – October the days will remain warm.
The difference between my first visit to Uzbekistan in the early 90’s shortly after it declared independence from the former Soviet Union, and my most recent, is indescribable.
Don’t get me wrong, the wonderfully welcoming people, majestic architecture and spectacular landscapes are just as overwhelming as they always have been, but it is a revelation to be rid of the tricky visa rules, grey hotels and frustrating bureaucracy that dogged my every step the first time around. Visa free entry, gleaming hotels and smooth communications now compliment the fascinating history and culture.
The first caravans on the Silk Road appeared in 138BC – ostensibly due to China learning about prosperous regions of Samarkand and Bukhara, in particular wanting to harness the power of the magnificent, strong and quick Fergana horses of the regions for military use. The cities along the Silk Road blossomed as vital centres of trade, culture and crafts. Merchants and traders travelled with spices, ivory, silk and gold as well as bringing religions and philosophies along for the ride.
Samarkand, like much of the country, is just layered in history. Part of Alexander the Great’s empire, it was eventually conquered by Turkish invaders, giving rise to the extraordinary Islamic architecture and art. Registan Square in the centre of the ancient city, is surrounded by three madrasas (Islamic Schools) which transformed the area in to a centre of learning. As I wandered open-mouthed staring at the glistening mosaics, the genetics of generations of traders were evident in the local vendors as they tried to attract my attention to buy colourful scarves or jewellery. Bukhara too, is wonderful example of a medieval centre for Islamic theology and culture. The winding labyrinth of streets is like a siren call and you can wander for hours while the hundreds of well-preserved mosques and caravanserais provide photo opportunities without end.
Hospitality is the beating heart of Uzbek culture – don’t be surprised if you are invited to sit with some locals to try Uzbekistan’s national dish of plov, a succulent mela of rice and vegetables, usually served with hot tea while you are grilled about your home life, family and job. Uzbeks believe not to receive a guest brings disgrace to the family and the generous nature of the locals guarantees a warm welcome wherever you travel in the country.
It’s time to go to Uzbekistan!
Kate Couling, Director
Currency Uzbek sum
Language The main language and the only official language is Uzbek.
Why we love it You will come away with many unique travel experiences! It sits along the rich ancient highway called the Silk Road so Uzbekistan is home to a number of ancient and medieval monuments. The great cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Shakhrisabz are all UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Weather The best time to go is during April – June with clear skies, sunshine and cool air creating perfect conditions. July can be extremely hot. In September – October the days will remain warm.
Social customs & quirks There are a number of customs that travellers need to be aware of when in Uzbekistan. The traditional Uzbek bread called lipioshka should never be placed upside down or on the ground, even if wrapped in paper or plastic. Women should always wear modest clothes, never shorts, in public places. Displaying wealth such as jewellery is generally frowned upon.
Festivals & events The biggest and most culturally significant event is the Boysun Bahori, or the Boysun Spring Festival. Held in mountainous Boysun in Surkhandarya Province, this festival dates back to pre-Islam times and features costumes, songs, dance performances and storytelling. This event is so immersed in history and culture that UNESCO has named the Boysun cultural space as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Health* Please contact your General Practitioner for advice regarding the recommended vaccination programme for travellers to this region. The only compulsory health requirement is a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate if coming from, or travelling through, an infected area. Malaria precautions should be taken.
Notes *Please be aware that Health information is subject to change at any time and you should always double check these requirements at the time of booking and before travel.
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