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Uzbekistan Travel & Holiday Tips


Uzbekistan lies astride the Silk Road, the ancient trading route between China and the West. The country boasts some of the finest architectural jewels among the Silk Road countries, featuring intricate Islamic tile work, turquoise domes, minarets and preserved relics from the time when Central Asia was a centre of empire and learning. Good examples of this architecture can be found in the ancient walled city of Khiva in Urgench, the winding narrow streets of the old town of Bukhara and Samarkand, known locally as the ‘Rome of the Orient’. The Ferghana Valley, surrounded by the Tian Shan and Pamir mountains, still produces silk and is well worth visiting for its friendly bazaars and landscape of cotton fields, mulberry trees and fruit orchards.

Uzbektourism will arrange tours to suit taste and budget. An increasing number of Western tour companies offer packages that take travellers to Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent, with all accommodation and travel paid before leaving. Owing to the difficulties of touring independently, travellers with limited time are advised to buy a package and make use of the services of a recognised tour company.


The capital lies in the valley of the River Chirchik and is the fourth-largest city in the CIS. Tashkent has always been an important international transport junction. Unfortunately, it preserves only a small proportion of its architectural past. A massive earthquake in 1966 flattened much of the old city and it was rebuilt with broad, tree-lined streets and the new buildings are of little architectural interest. The earlier buildings lie in the old town to the west of the centre. A myriad of narrow winding alleys, it stands in stark contrast to the more modern Tashkent. Of interest among the older buildings are the 16th-century Kukeldash Madrasa, which is being restored as a museum, and the Kaffali-Shash Mausoleum. Many of the Islamic sites in Tashkent are not open to non-Muslims, and visitors should always ask permission before entering a mosque or other religious building. Tashkent houses many museums of Uzbek and pre-Uzbek culture. These include the State Art Museum, which houses a collection of paintings, ceramics and the Bukharan royal robes. The Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts exhibits embroidered wall hangings and reproduction antique jewellery. As important historical figures, such as Amir Timur – better known as Tamerlane in the West – are being given greater prominence, the exhibits and perspective of the museums are also changing.

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