Wednesday, September 26, 2007
On the way to Silk Road Bukhara and Samarkand
The armies of many of the great conquerors of the ancient and medieval world passed through these oasis cities: Cyrus the Great, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Timur (sometimes called Tamerlane). Transoxiana, as it was known, the land beyond the Oxus River, was the crossroads of the world. Its cities — Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, and others, also my name Abu Derya River located within Uzbekistan — have been ruled and fought over by Sogdians, Zoroastrian Turks, Arabs, Samanids, and Mongols.
Me On the way to Silk Road
Merchants and travelers following the Silk Road between the Mediterranean, China, and India in the first millennium also sought food, water, and shelter in Transoxiana.
Timur's capital of Samarkand, which he intended to be the capital of the world, was built on the labor of tens of thousands of captured architects and craftsmen. The majolica-tiled mosques and schools they built, and the later buildings modeled on them, are among the most gloriously decorated buildings ever constructed.
The Guest House that we stayed in, Bukhara
Timur's immediate descendants, the Timurid rulers, were also enthusiastic builders. His grandson especially, the learned scientist-ruler Ulugh Beg, undertook many extravagant urban projects, building mosques, madrasas (seminaries), caravansaries, and khanagas (guest houses) in Samarkand, Bukhara, and elsewhere.
Turquoise Domes, Samarkand
When you admire the famed turquoise domes, the elaborately constructed minarets, the madrases blooming with stars and edged with Kufic inscriptions, give a thought to the resilience of these ancient cities. Among those nurtured here were the philosopher- scientist Ibn Sina and the poets Firdausi and Rudaki - figures with stature in the Persian Islamic world that, for example, Newton or Shakespeare enjoyed in the West .
The majority of sights lie scattered around the old town (shakhristan) and are thus most easily reached on foot. The following itinerary starts at Registan and proceeds through the heart of the old bazaar quarter to the area around the Lyazi Hauz square .
The Kalyan Minaret, Bukhara
The dominant feature in Bukhara is the Great Minaret. It was a beacon to the caravans. It dates back 800 years. The Bolsheviks, stupidly, bombed it in 1920 when they came into Bukhara. It was fixed a few years later with stone of a color which didn't exactly match.
This is a view of the Bukhara old town. If you look closely, you may be able to see Prince Charles; he was visiting Bukhara the same day as us! It is being said, that he is an expert in Islamic architecture.