Samarkand, The Pride of Central Asia

South East Asia is the part of the continent that attracts most of the tourists from around the world, and then its China, South Korea and India.

But one part of this huge continent has been left virtually untouched by the foreign tourists, although it has some of the best scenic as well as architectural beauty of Asia.

It’s the central Asian states that have gained their independence after the collapse of USSR in 1990’s. One of them, Uzbekistan is considered as the cradle of culture and arts in this region and its three historic cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva have some of the most stunning architecture in Asia. But still you don’t hear that much about the country and the reason is the draconian regime that is ruling it.

Uzbekistan is a perfect example of a police state where you will find security personnel on each and every street corner, but it is also a country with one of the lowest crime rate in the region, so unless you are planning to start a coup there, you will be pretty safe in Uzbekistan. If Uzbekistan is the jewel of the central Asia, then its shine is not more evident in any other place than in the historical city of Samarkand.

Samarkand was the capital of one of the largest empires ever forged at the time of its famous ruler Tamerlane. And it has some of the most stunning Muslim and central Asian artworks in the form of its famous mosques and tombs. It was also one of the richest city states of the medieval era because of its proximity to the lucrative Silk Road, its wealth and grandeur gave it a reputation of Atlantis of the east. Although it has its own airport but if you are flying from outside the country then the best option will be to take a the capital of the country and then either take a connecting flight to Samarkand or make this journey by road.

The accommodation here is much cheaper than the rest of the Asia, so you can easily find a hotel which suits your budget. The first main attraction for any tourist in the city is the 14th century medrassa or the school called the Registan. It’s the centerpiece of Samarkand and has become a symbol of both Samarkand and the Uzbekistan. You will surely be amazed by the craftsmanship of the artists that did the beautiful calligraphy and painting on its walls. This school has remained an excellent center of learning in the central Asia for more than three centuries of the medieval era.

The mausoleums of the former rulers and scholars of this great city are also worth visiting as all of them are masterpieces of calligraphy and artistic construction. The most famous of them all are the Mausoleum of Shah-i-Zinda, which has been recently renovated in 2006, most argues though that it was an abomination rather than renovation but it’s still a place worth visiting. Bibi Khayanam Mosque and the Guri Amir Mausoleum are also famous with the tourists that arrive in Samarkand.

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