May 21, 2013
Discovering Uzbekistan. 2800 Years in the Making
By Steve Gillick, Travel Industry Today (Canada)

Uzbekistan is on e of on ly two doub le land-loc ked count ries in the wo rld (count ries that are themselves surroun ded by landloc ked count ries). The Repub lic lies just no rth of Afg hani stan and bo rders on Turkmeni stan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Uzbekistan, while only 22 years old, has a history that dates back nearly 2800 years to the establishment of the ities of Samarkand and Bukhara. And what do travellers do during a visit to Uzbekistan? Niche interests include ports (football), culinary (more than 50 varieties of palov – rice pilaf) – as well as samosas, breads, fruits, getables, grilled meats, soups and dairy products. Arts and Crafts include ceramics, wood carving, metal engraving, silk production and ‘ganch carvings’-elaborate rock carvings onbuildings. Architecture includes outstanding structures built from the 9th century onward with many dating to the ruler Amir Temur’s construction activities in 14th century. Uzbekistan is a treasure-house of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Tourists interested in photography, religion and culture will have a heyday.

But there are also adventure activities that include hiking, mountaineering, horseback riding, hang gliding, the desert and fishing. The music of the region is traditionally played on stringed instruments resembling lutes, wind instruments (trumpets and flutes) and drums. In 2013, the International Music Festival “Sharq Taronalari” (Melodies of the Orient) will take place in Samarkand from August 25-30th. And there are several museums in the main cities celebrating ancient and modern history, decorative and fine arts, cultural traditions and archaeology.

Without doubt the main attractions relate to the country’s fabled cities. Tashkent (literally“Stone City”) is the capital with a population of about 2.5 million. The subway system is beautifully decorated with glazed ceramics, marble columns, crystal chandeliers and displays relating to each station (from poets to cosmonauts). City attractions include the Chorsu Bazaar-a huge market of foods and crafts, the 16th Century Kukeldash Madrasah, the Khast Imam Mosque which houses the oldest Qur’an in the world, as well as mausoleums, palaces, the ballet and opera house, and several major museums. Samarkand (Rock Town) is a city of legendary proportions, founded almost 2800 years ago and known as ‘The Heart of the Silk Road’ and ‘The Pearl of the East’.

The ruler Amir Timur, created a world capital city in the 14th century with the mosques and madrasahs that today comprise Registan Square, a World Heritage Site, as well as the necropolis and the 15th century observatory of Ulug’bek. Bukhara (Lucky Place) dates from the 6th century BC with its historic city core being designated a World Heritage Site of minarets, mosques, madrasahs and mausoleums.

Khiva (Low Land) is another 6th century BC city of historic monuments, houses and mosques. We know that tourists in all generational groups are looking for travel to destinations that capture their imagination, lead them to discover new cultures, remove them completely from their daily routine and open their eyes to sites and activities that are a bit off-the beaten track.

When we are greeted with the words Assalomu Alaykum (hello) and then Khush Kelibsiz (welcome), we know it is delivered from the heart. (Source: “Uzbekistan travel news” newspaper)


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