Samarkand is a UNESCO World Heritage City
The beauty and marvel of Samarkand is powerful and addictive. It’s home to one of the most recognisable monuments in Central Asia, the Registan – a square with three prominent madarassas. The buildings really come to life during dusk when the hues of the setting sun coupled with yellow lights illuminate the structures. Also visit the tomb of Amir Timur at Gur-Emir Mausoleum, Shah-i-Zinda necropolis and the observatory of Ulugbek.
Uzbekistan is a cattle-rearing nation so it’s no surprise that most delicacies include meat. Meals are often over several courses starting with salads, followed by soup, a main and dessert. Try the Plov (similar to a pulav or biryani) – made with rice, meat, carrots and spices, the samsa and shashlik kebabs. Local markets are a good place to try homemade delicacies, sweets and pastries.
Original Oldest Qur’an in The World
On the other side is a slightly neglected but much more authentic old city, at the heart of which is Chorsu Bazar. Here you’ll experience Uzbek life as it is, with stalls selling everything from fresh fruits to lepeshka (traditional toasted bread). Not far from the dome-shaped market is the Khast Imam complex, home to a mosque, mausoleum and one of Muslim world’s most sacred relics, caliph Osman’s Qur’an, which is one of the Oldest Qur’ans in the World.
Mausoleum and Masjid Imam Al Bukhari
The Mausoleum of Imam al-Bukhari is about 30 minutes north of the central area of Samarkand. so you’ll need to catch a taxi to get there. The architecture of the complex is similar in architectural style to most of the buildings listed above and it is a revered pilgrimage site in Uzbekistan for the devout. Imam al-Bukhari was a theologian and authored the second most important book for Muslims after the Quran.
The complex houses a mausoleum, mosque, a library and museum, and several souvenir stalls.
The Ulugh Beg Observatory is an observatory in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Built in the 1420s by the Timurid astronomer Ulugh Beg, it is considered by scholars to have been one of the finest observatories in the Islamic world.
Some truly magnificent discoveries were made in this observatory. Ulugh calculated that the length of a star year was equal to 365 days, 6 hours, 10 minutes, and 8 seconds which is only off by less than a minute to our current calculations.
The only thing that remains of the observatory today is the sextant, which was an instrument that was used to determine midday. It is covered by a roof but you can peer down into the large hole and see a large section of it below. There is also a very small museum that gives some history of Ulugh and of the work that was done in the observatory in the 1400s.
The Kalyan Mosque and Minaret (Tower) is the central focal point of the Po-i-Kalyan Complex as it stands almost 150 feet above the ground. This is the second iteration of the minaret that is meant to summon Muslims to prayer five times a day, as the first collapsed due to the unstable ground underneath. The ground was fortified and the current minaret was completed in 1127.
The Kalyan has an interesting history as it was spared by Genghis Khan as he appreciated its beauty while he was destroying everything around it. It is also known as the “tower of death” because for several centuries criminals were executed by being tossed from the top.
Be sure to check out the Kalyan Minaret at night as well, when it is all lit up against the night sky!