Our latest guest blog comes from Travel Bureau’s preferred partner Cox & Kings. The longest established travel company in the world, Cox & Kings pride themselves on organising high-quality tours, with destinations especially selected by experts. One such tour takes travellers to the heart of Central Asia, to the beautiful country of Uzbekistan; here they reveal the top five experiences to be had when visiting this varied and vibrant nation.
There are countless cultural treasures to be discovered when visiting Uzbekistan. This unique destination combines Islamic heritage, Soviet influences and ancient associations with the Silk Road, providing a wide variety of attractions that make for a memorable holiday.
The chance to visit the Silk Road (a series of ancient trade routes linking East and West) is one of the main reasons to travel to Uzbekistan. Another is the abundance of spectacular Islamic architecture: blue-domed mosques and imposing madrassas (religious schools), quite different to what you can see elsewhere in the Middle East, create some of Uzbekistan’s most iconic sights.
Experiencing Uzbekistan’s fascinating mix of peoples and cultures is another reason to head to this beguiling country. Located at the crossroads of several civilisations and having been under Soviet rule for many years, Uzbekistan has everything from Russian-speaking taxi drivers to commonly-practiced Chinese customs such as tea rituals.
As well as its distinctive medley of cultures and wealth of historical sites, Uzbekistan possesses a wonderful mix of beautiful landscapes, including river valleys, desert and steppe, making it one of Central Asia’s most captivating destinations.
With so much on offer, the only question that remains is, just what are the finest experiences to have here?
1) Visit Tashkent’s museums
Uzbekistan’s capital city, Tashkent, has the best selection of museums in the country and these are among the finest places to learn about Uzbek and pre-Uzbek culture. The History Museum of the People of Uzbekistan looks at the region’s past from ancient times all the way to the present, giving first-time visitors a fantastic overview of the country’s history. In addition to its excellent museums, Tashkent’s art museums display a host of fascinating artefacts, including ceramics, wall hangings, and antique jewellery, which provide an illuminating window onto the country’s culture.
2) Admire Samarkand’s Registan Square
Samarkand is perhaps Uzbekistan’s most splendid and fascinating destination. This ancient hub of civilisation was once a key location on the Silk Road and during the 14th century, was one of the world’s greatest cities. Peppered with incredible sites it is the spectacular Registan Square that really stands out. Home to three vast madrassas which are decorated with stunning, intricate mosaics, the square’s grandeur and vibrant colour create a real sense of the city’s past glories.
3) Marvel at Bukhara’s Mir-I-Arab
Uzbekistan’s towering madrassas are one of the elements that makes it stand out from other Middle Eastern destinations. Mir-I-Arab, located in Bukhara, is one of the finest examples of these Islamic religious schools. The Mir-I-Arab madrassa is adorned with exceptional tile work and this, paired with its great size, render it one of the city’s, and indeed the country’s, most impressive buildings. The architectural and aesthetic quality of this historic building is further enhanced by the fact that it has been considered Bukhara’s foremost educational establishment for hundreds of years.
4) Discover the spy stories of the Ark
Also located in Bukhara is the Ark, a building filled with some of the nation’s most intriguing spy stories. The oldest building in the city, the sprawling Ark is more like a small town, though much of it is now in ruins after bombings in the 1920s. The remarkable compound, which was occupied from the 5th century right up to the time of the bombings, has an incredibly rich history for travellers to discover. The Ark now houses a series of museums, including an archaeological museum, where you can delve deeper into the country’s past.
5) Explore Tamerlane’s birthplace, Shakhrisabz
The birthplace of Tamerlane, Uzbekistan’s famous 14th-century conqueror, Shakhrisabz, like Samarkand, was also located on the Silk Road. The city is over 2,000 years old and would have regularly welcomed hosts of traders from across the world on the Silk Road. Today the city is an enchanting tangle of ancient quarters, fine monuments and bustling markets. The suzani, silk or cotton coverlets, are among the city’s most famous products and would make an excellent memento or gift.
To find out more about Cox & King’s guided tour of Uzbekistan, contact our personal travel experts on 0191 285 9321 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.