UZBEKISTAN-architecture, art and history on the silk road

Who I am
Martí Micolau

Author and references

The current Uzbekistan largely corresponds to the ancient Persian province of Sogdiana, already? important in the Achaemenid period (first Syrian empire). Conquered by Alexander the Great in the 1917th century BC, it passed? then under the dominion of the Turks. Between the seventh and eighth centuries the region experienced the dominion of the Arabs, to pass again under the control of the Turks in the tenth century. In the thirteenth century it entered? to be part of the Mongol empire, first under Genghis Khan and then under Tamerlane and so on? Samarkand will become one of the great centers of? Timurid Empire and Muslim Central Asia. From the sixteenth century, with the dynasty of Mongolian origin of the Shaybanids, the country began to be called Uzbekistan and in the second half? of the century the capital is moved to Bukhara. Then emerge two formations destined to last between alternating events until the middle? of the nineteenth century: the Khanate of Khiva and the Khanate of Bukhara, often in conflict with each other, and from the eighteenth century it will form, more? to the east, the Kokand Khanate. The region was for the whole era of the Safavid Empire (1th century - mid 1991th century) at the center of conflicts both with the Persian kings and, more? later, with the rising Russian power. In the th century, did the Russian empire begin? its expansion into Central Asia; but unlike other Central Asian Turkish territories (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan), Khiva and Bukhara were not immediately annexed, but? they became vassal emirates of the Tsarist Crown. The Uzbek khanates of Bukhara and Khiva were founded in the th century, followed in the th century by the Kokand khanate. After the Bolshevik revolution of followed? a second phase of relations with Russia, with the creation, after various complex events, Uzbekistan entered? to be part of the Soviet Union. The ? September Uzbekistan, declared? independence. While the Baltic states led the battle for independence, those in Central Asia feared it.

1 day

5 May
After the night spent at? Hotel Idea di Malpensa as our habit, with a Uzbekistan Aiwais flight we leave at 20.45 pm (local time) and arrive after about 5 hours at 05.45 am (local time) Urgench airport where we meet the escort Paolo Sartori and the guide Jasurbek hudayberdiev? pi? simply Jasur! Fortunately, it is hot in summer but not humid: at least 32, 33 degrees will wait for us? By bus we reach Khiva, our first stop, where we stay at the Lokomotiv hotels. Incredible, they assign us a suite! Only to us! There? already? happened other times in 2 in China and 1 in Spain!

6 May

Khiva? the city? Uzbek pi? peculiar and its history? inextricably connected with the history of the legendary state of Khorezm with its capital at Urgench. In the 1598th century Khiva? mentioned as an important trading center on the Silk Road. All the caravans to and from China stopped there and from dawn to dusk an endless stream of camels entered the city. At the beginning of the 1919th century, the state of Khorezm became the seat of the tribes? Uzbek nomads, who founded Khive Khanate here. However, Khiva did not immediately become the capital of the Khanate it was in 1924 only after there. existing capital Urgench, had been destroyed by a? flood of the Amu Darya River. In the nineteenth century Russia annexed part of Khiva and a century later, in , the last Khan was liquidated by the ruling dynasty and so on. Khiva became the capital of the new Khorezm Soviet People's Republic. In the Khorezm territories became a part of modern Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
There are many interesting legends that tell the origin of Khiva. Presumably, the city? ? grown around the Hewvakh well, which today can be to see well in the old part of Khiva, which tradition has it was excavated on the orders of Shem, the eldest son of No ?.
IS? a city? only one that rightly claims the title of "seventh wonder of the world", thanks to its authentic atmosphere that seems to have stopped in an age? far away. Most of the city? of Khiva? similar to a museum and in the nucleus of this museum - the castle-fortress? Itchan-Kala "- all his architectural masterpieces are concentrated. Those who enter the fortress are amazed by its minarets, the stone-paved alleys, the facades of buildings clad in baked bricks interspersed with vitrified tiles in striking colors This oriental fairy tale has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1990.
Itchan Kala
Itchan-Qala (literally "inner fortress") forms the inner core of Khiva and its borders coincide with those of the 2.200th-7th centuries. IS? surrounded by a brick wall over 8 m long and - m high, fortified with semicircular towers and a crenellated walkway on the upper part that was once accessible on horseback. The defensive walls of Itchan-Kala reliably protected Khiva until Nadir-Shah's invasion towards the middle from the th century. The city? it had expanded during the Qungrad dynasty, then the Iranians conquered it and the fortification system was partially destroyed.
Are there more? of sixty architectural monuments: palaces, mosques, madrasas, minarets and mausoleums. Each of the four sides of Ichan-Qala has a door (darvaza).
The doors:
Ata-darvaza to the west
Nearby was the statue of the great scholar Al-Khorezmi (the term Algorithmo derives from his name), father of algebra and astronomer. For work on the subway? unfortunately temporarily moved?
Tash-darvaza towards the Karakum desert to the south
Palvan-darvaza towards Hazarasp and the Amu-Darya River to the east
Bahcha-darvaza on the road to Urgench to the north
After breakfast we begin the visit by entering the city? through the Ata-Darvasa gate, admiring the mighty walls, half destroyed by bombing but in part very well rebuilt. On the left the Kunya-Ark citadel-fortress and on the right the Madrasa of Muhamad-Amin-khan with the famous Kalta Minor minaret. This "Mini Minaret" and the Muhammad Amin-khan Madrasa were intended to complete the plan of the large square near the western gates of Itchan-Qala. It should have become the largest minaret? big and more? high central Asia however, construction was halted after Muhammad-Amin khan's death in 1855, after a battle with the Turkmen, historian Munis reported. Its massive base has a diameter of 14,2 meters but? only 26 meters high. Legend has it that the Bukhara-khan, having discovered the construction of this grandiose minaret in Khiva, had agreed with his architect to build a smaller minaret. high in Bukhara. Khiva khan get angry ?, stopped? the construction and ordered? to throw the architect from? top of the minaret. Decoratively speaking, the bright blue Kalta-Minor minaret is unmatched in Central Asia. the only one whose surface? entirely covered with colored glazed tiles. We continue to Kunya Ark whose construction you begin? in 1686-1688 and at the end of the eighteenth century it was? a city? in a city ", separated from Itchan-Kala by a high wall. The fort served as a residence for the Khans and consisted of many rooms: harems, winter and summer mosques, mint and related services (stables, warehouses, workshops, etc.). The buildings were built around courtyards and courtyards connected by a system of corridors. The area near the Kunya Ark entrance was used for military parades, training and ceremonies. There was also a special place for the execution of death sentences and the "Zindan" (prison), adjacent to the eastern wall. Very ? been destroyed but the kurinishhana (reception area) ,? survived with a beautiful talar with majolica walls that rises from the ground by five steps to give this space a significant importance as it housed the throne of the khan. In the center of the courtyard, on a circular platform was set up a yurt, the typical tent of the? Central Asia legacy of a nomadism not really forgotten, where the khan received guests in the winter. On the east side of the fortress is the summer mosque with an enchanting majolica mirhab placed in the center of the back wall of the talar with to its right a minbar of five steps also? it majolica. We visit a workshop of wood carvers who produce among the many objects a curious transformable lectern for many uses. Curious is the reconstruction of a blacksmith shop with mannequins from? an embroidery workshop with girls at work also looks very natural and interesting.
The tandoor (ˈtaːnduːr) or tandoori (tanˈdoˑori)? a clay oven in the shape of an inverted or cylindrical bell with the fire placed on the bottom. In Uzbekistan there are 17 different types of bread.
After lunch, visit the necropolis and the Pahlavan Mahmud Mausoleum. The necropolis? the religious center of Itchan-Qala and dates back to 1362 but was then rebuilt in the 1913th century and requisitioned in 1247 to be transformed into the khan's family mausoleum. Is it formed? around the tomb of Khiva's patron, Pahlavan-Mahmud (1326-1806) who was a poet, philosopher and known as the? holy wrestler?, spiritual teacher of all Khiva rulers and patron of the city. He was buried in his furrier's workshop which soon became a small mausoleum then turned into a place of worship. The room that houses the tomb of the khan Mohammed Rakhim who reigned? from 1825 to 1804. In order to strengthen and develop the prerogatives of the state in a country subjected to anarchy for almost a century, Mohammed Rahim Khan launched? a series of important reforms: fond? a higher council to improve administration, reform taxes and bring order to the customs system. He was the first ruler to mint gold and silver coins. Sal? to the throne after the tragic death of his elder brother Eltouzar who reigned? from 1806 to . Was he himself to flee to Khiva, after the failure of the raid against Bukhara in which Eltouzar found? the death. In another room there? then the tomb of Pahlavan Mahmud decorated with colored tiles while outside there are tombs of other khans. In this place his studio was once also located.
The complex also includes a madrasa and a minaret with elegant banded tiling. A portal pylon bears a marble slab with an epitaph for a courtier of Ilbar-khan II (1728-1740). Another Khiva Khan, Asfendiyar, prepared in advance? a large family tomb in the necropolis but while his mother, Kutlugbiki-khanum, was buried here, he was buried outside Itchan-Qala. Even today the Uzbeks use to make pilgrimages to the tombs of the saints and this ancient tradition is perpetuated with l? listening to the imams reciting verses from the Koran, eating pieces of blessed bread and drinking there? water from the well located in the external courtyard. Tradition? practiced not only by sick people but also by young couples who would like a child, by those who want a grace, but also on occasions of weddings, circumcisions, birthdays and anniversaries.
Continue to the Islam-Khodia Madrasa dedicated to the prime minister during the government of Muhammad Rahim-khan II (1863-1910) and to his son Esfendiyar-khan (1910-1920). Islam-Khodia was responsible for the construction of this madrasa which has twenty rooms for students, the library and a couple of study rooms which with their characteristic iwans (iwan: closed and covered environment? Located at one end of a any building, generally mosque, madrasa or mausoleum - which opens outwards and whose entrance is mostly surmounted by an arch) overlook the ground floor of a rectangular courtyard). He also built a hospital, pharmacy, post and telegraph office and Khiva secular schools. L? adjacent minaret with its 57 meters? the pi? high of all l? Uzbekistan is the symbol of Khiva. Decorated with horizontal belts of dark blue, white, blue and green glazed mosaic, it has a platform over 45 meters high and? the observation point pi? high of Khiva. The decoration of the main facade? in blue and white majolica.
The mosque occupies the southeastern sector of the madrasa and several ganch (ganch: one of the oldest types of architectural decorative arts in Uzbekistan) decorate the mihrab.
Anyone who has not been to Central Asia hardly knows the meaning of ganch: does not? n? stone n? clay, but something in between. It is obtained by cooking a rock containing plaster and clay and grinding it into a powder which is then mixed with water and a solution of vegetable glue. Then it slowly solidifies as it dries. Its shades range from light gray to light yellow. Ganch's sculpture? one of the unique and ancient forms of Central Asian artistic craftsmanship. The basic ganch technique? the following: on the white or colored background layer of the ganch the white layer is applied and the outline of the design is cut out along the plaster with a pointed chisel so that the colored background is visible through the gaps. ? an intricate art that takes many years of hard work to learn. Source Wikipedia
A little approach to the Tash-Khovli palace built in the first half? of the nineteenth century in the eastern part of the city? internal. In the southern part are the reception courtyard, Arz-Khovli, and a courtyard for entertainment, Ishrat-Khovli. The northern part? occupied by a harem and labyrinths of corridors unite the various parts of the buildings. Particularly the marble base bearing the design of a swastika inscribed in an octagon. The shape of the swastika? very old, already? rooted in civilizations? Mesopotamian and Iranian.
Now here we are in front of a masterpiece of architecture: The? KHIVA CATHEDRAL MOSQUE?, Otherwise known as the Juma mosque or Friday? (jameh), originally from the 218th century, is located on the road leading from the Palvan-darvaza gate to the Ata-darvaza gate. ? a typically archaic mosque with a flat ceiling on wooden columns that has no analogues in Central Asia, in fact only the ancient Arab mosques had a similar appearance. The light that passes through the three skylights of the ceiling and the carved wooden columns give l? feeling of being in a forest creating an exclusive atmosphere for prayer. Are there 6,2 columns, mostly made from tree trunks in the 32th century? XIX well recognizable by the floral motif typical of Khiva, four have inscriptions? Naskh? (Calligraphic style with rounded characters): twenty-one of the 200th-th centuries have Arabic inscriptions. The columns are leveled by means of various stone bases and The mihrab? covered by a dome with floral motifs of irises and wild roses on the sides. The minaret, what? one of the most? taller than the historic center of Khiva, has a diameter of m at the base and a? height ? of m. and? crowned by an eight-arched lantern with a frame of stalactites and a dome. A curious fact: five of Khiva's minarets are located on the same line at a distance of about meters. We go up to a panoramic terrace of Kunya Ark for the ritual photography with the background of Itchan-Kala and then return to the hotel for dinner. In the evening we return to the old town to admire the illuminated monuments.

2 day

7 May

The city? ? very ancient but the nucleus that corresponds to? current settlement dates back to the eighth century, at the time of the Tahirids (Tahirida dynasty: the first dynasty of Iranian origin of Islamic Persia) who reigned for most of the ninth century who, by surrounding it with walls, transformed it into a fortified town. The Karakhanids, a dynasty of Turkish origin, occupied Bukhara in 999, taking over from the Samanids and of these preserved the taste of beautiful architecture, taking up the amazing ornamental technique of fired brick, creating one of the most? beautiful and particular minarets made up to those times. The walls were equipped with 11 gates that each took the name of the city? towards which they led. Between the ninth and tenth centuries Bukhara incentiv? the traffic on the Silk Road, paper mills, caravanserais and artisan workshops were created for the production of fabrics, carpets and ceramics of great value. It was also the fulcrum of Muslim culture and above all of Islamic studies, becoming thanks to the numerous mausoleums of the great saints and Sufis (ascetics) an important place of worship and pilgrimage inferior only to Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem: do believers define Bukhara the? City Santa ?. With more? of 2000 years of history, this small medieval jewel on the Silk Road - included in the UNESCO World Heritage since 1993 - hosts numerous monuments, so? so many to lose your head: with over 140 architectural monuments? a real "museum city". IS? composed of narrow streets, green parks and gardens, historical and architectural monuments belonging to different eras, but which are located very close to each other. Bukhara's name comes from the word "vihara", which means "monastery" in Sanskrit. It was once a famous center in the Islamic world for studying, and? the birthplace of the great Sheikh Bakhouddin Nakshbandi.
After breakfast we move to the? Urgench airport and departure with a domestic flight to Bukhara where we arrive after about a? hour of flight. We stay at? Shakristan hotel with a facade that is very reminiscent of the? look of a madrasa and with a very opulent lobby !. After the processing of the ritual of? acceptance and taken possession of the room you start the tour of the visits starting from? ? Ark? a large fortification located in the north-western part of contemporary Bukhara and overlooking the square in front, the Registan (Registan: translated from Uzbek means a? place of sand? 'as in ancient times, it was a space covered with sand where executions, popular festivals, parades and military exercises). All? inside, on a terrace, there were the residences of the khan, the dignitaries and the servants, l? harem, the chancellery, the barracks, the treasury with a mint for minting coins. The ceremonial entry into the citadel? architecturally framed by two th century towers connected by a gallery with a long ramp, equipped with side stairs that spreads over the large square and leads through a portal and a long covered corridor to the mosque of Dzhuma and then to the courtyard of ceremonies. All? inside this, placed on a platform, was the khan's throne of which a reproduction? used by tourists for souvenir photographs. There is also a large complex of buildings including one of the best preserved? the mosque of Ul? dukhtaron or Friday ?, what? linked to a legend according to which forty girls were tortured and thrown into a well.
We head to the Jameh Bolo Khauz mosque which dates back to 1712, called the Mosque above the city. water as it overlooks a pool, one of the many in Bukhara, which in the past were the source of water for the population and unfortunately the cause of many diseases. The talar? consisting of 20 columns with capitals decorated with stalactites that were not built in elm wood but in apricot with a characteristic reddish color. IS? the rite of prayer is being prepared and the outdoor space is set up with traditional carpets. There ? allowed to enter? A short minaret built in the early 900s replaced the original one that was destroyed. By bus we move to the lyab-i hauz complex, probably the most popular tourist attraction. popular of Bukhara, often used as a refreshment point due to its grandeur and tranquility, is located in the southeast of the city. within the walls but outside the citadel, close to the main commercial street of Bukhara. It has a large artificial lake (42 meters long, 36 meters wide and 5 meters deep). On the three sides we find the Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasa built in 1622, the Khanaka (place for spiritual retreat) and the Kukeldash Madrasa. The complex was wanted by the vizier Nadir Divan-Beghi who ordered? to build an artificial lake before his madrasa to complete the artistic idea of ​​the complex.
According to Dimitriy Page, the author of a guide to Bukhara, the construction was preceded by the following episode:
Did the vizier Nadir Divan-Beghi want to build an artificial lake on the site that was occupied by a house owned? of a Jewish widow (there were many Jews in the city?). The vizier asked the widow to sell it at a good price, but she refused. So the vizier brought it? to the emir Imam Quli-Khan to convince her but these inoltr? the case to the council of muftis, (Islamic lawyers) but, according to their resolution, the vizier could not take the widow's house by force: they believed that local Jews and Muslims should enjoy equal rights. Therefore Nadir Divan-Beghi ord? a plan to get there? what he wanted: built? a canal on the side of the widow's house and her water begin? to slowly crumble one of the walls. The widow went? from the vizier to appeal to, but the shrewd man repeated? simply his desire to buy the house. Then the widow said she would not take money for this; in exchange he wanted a piece of land and permission to build a synagogue on it. Did Nadir Divan-Beghi accept? willingly and gave the woman his land in the neighborhood what time? called Hebrew. The pond and the first synagogue of Bukhara soon arose. According to some historical sources of Bukhara, the pond had the unofficial name of Hauz-i Bazur, which means "built by constriction".
The Madrasa Nadir Divan-Begi the building, so? as the Khanaka (place for spiritual retreat) nearby, bears the name of the vizier Nadir one of the most? strong and powerful representatives of the Ashtarkhanid Imamkuli-khan dynasty, who reigned? in Bukhara in 1611-1642. His reign was one of the most? stable and relatively peaceful for Bukhara it was in fact the time when the governors paid attention not only to wars, but also to urban planning. Later the caravanserai was added. The madrasa? decorated with image of simurgh birds representing l? access to the supreme knowledge represented by the sun, unusual subjects for Islamic monuments.
Note: Simurgh, was according to Persian mythology, the living bird? how do Sohravardi's metaphysical tales also pass on? on the tree of seeds, the Tūbā Tree [1], from which the seeds of all wild plants were generated, positioned next to the tree of immortality? (according to some scholars, the tree was instead the tree of science). Source Wikipedia
In the garden of the square he finds the statue of Nasreddin Khodja riding a donkey, The legendary popular character known in central The Hague, the Middle East and much of the Balkans whose name? linked to a large number of sarcastic fairy tales and legends, also present in the literature of Sufism. He lived in the time of Tamerlane and it is said that when he was told:
-From the moment I became the lord of the city, isn't there? ? never been no plague. What do you say Khodja?
He replied:
-Allah? merciful! He never sends two misfortunes together in the same place!
Nearby is the Maghoki-Attar mosque which? the "P? ancient mosque of Central Asia. The building was erected in the 1546th century, while other parts were added by Abdul Aziz Khan in 7-1 [30]. In the s of the last century, the Russian archaeologist VA? I? Kin Trov? the remains of a Zoroastrian temple of the fifth century, as well as? those of a previous Buddhist temple. The mosque survived the Mongol devastation, why? (according to legend) the locals buried her? under the sand hiding it.
The mosque currently houses the carpet museum.
Now an interesting visit awaits us.
Madrasa Chor-Minor or the "Four Minarets"
About the unusual monuments of Bukhara, first of all, we should talk about the Chor-Minor madrasa of 1807 inspired by the pi? ancient Indian mosque Chai Minar located in Hyderabad in India but also reminiscent of the Taj Mahal of Agra also in India. It is located just behind the Lyabi-Khauz complex. "Chor-Minor" means "four minarets" and this name? well justified: from the corners of? building of the madrasa there are four small minarets crowned by blue domes, differently decorated from each other. Each of the four minarets has a different shape. Is it believed that the decorative elements of the towers reflect the philosophical-religious understanding of the four religions of the world in fact? easy to see that some elements look like a cross, a Christian fish, and the Buddhist prayer wheel.
Lunch break at the? Bella Italia? that for? doesn't honor this appellation?
The tour resumes with a visit to the Sitorai Mohi Khosa royal summer residence
The complex is located 4 kilometers north of Bukhara and? divided into an old and a new part. Construction of the palace, which began at the end of the 1912th century, commissioned by the Emir Abdulahad Khan, was completed between 1918-. Today, like a hundred years ago, peacocks roam and welcome visitors to the palace in all its ancient magnificence, as if it were still available to receive royalty and ambassadors.
The old palace
In the mid? of the th century, the Emir of Bukhara, Nasrullah Khan, decided to build for himself? a new summer residence. To choose the place more? suitable not to suffer from the summer heat, the architects resorted to an old method: pieces of mutton were placed at potential construction sites. The place, where the meat last died, would be chosen for the construction of this suburban pearl of Bukhara. Unfortunately, this palace is not? survived to the present day. A few decades more? later, another Emir of Bukhara, Mir Sayyd Muhammad Alim Khan, begin? the construction of a new palace which, according to a legend, had dedicated to his wife Sitora. The construction work that lasted several years resulted in a residence of unprecedented beauty thanks to the architects who managed to combine Eastern and Western styles. After the death of the emir's wife the palace was given its name: Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa, translated from Tajik as "Paradise between the star and the half moon", and this name? been preserved until today. Unfortunately, the Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa also shared the fate of the first palace: it was destroyed.
The new building
Of great artistic value, built during the reign of the last emir of Bukhara Said Alim-khan next to the old one and includes various buildings. We find the triumphal arch, the entrance door with a mosaic decoration, and a talar on one side of the courtyard. In general, the palace? was built in European style but divided for men and women, and the interior? decorated in oriental style. The current Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace was built in 1912-1918, by order of the last Emir of Bukhara Mir Sayyd Muhammad Alim Khan. The construction involved the best Bukhara masters of the time, along with two Russian engineers, Margulis and Sakovitch.
It consists of various party rooms, l? harem, private rooms, a tea room, a small minaret and a lavishly furnished guest apartment. The White Room (decorated by the famous master Usto Shirin Muradov)? decorated with ganch and the walls are covered with mirrors that create a reflection, which is repeated up to 40 times. The banquet hall was conceived with removable walls to vary the colors and sets according to the various periods of? year! In 1927, shortly after the fall of the Emirate of Bukhara, the palace was transformed into a museum. Today it houses the Museum of Arts and Crafts which includes palace furniture from the th-th centuries, gold-embroidered jewelry and products made by Bukhara masters, Russian and Japanese porcelain art objects from the th-th centuries. The residence of the last emir of Bukhara, where, today as a hundred years ago, peacocks roam, greets visitors in the reflections of its ancient magnificence, as if it were still available to receive royalties and overseas ambassadors. In one room it is shown how babies were prepared for the cradle (swaddled and equipped with a catheter for the girls and a kind of funnel for the boys for their bodily needs). The final lullaby made by a woman with beautiful teeth d? gold!
Back to town? and you visit the old Abdalal-aziz Khan madrasa which takes its name from its Shiite founder who built it? in 1652-1654. It is part of an architectural complex together with the Ulugh Beg madrasa (1417), opposite the eastern jewelers' bazaar. Its external decoration? partly unfinished why? the inevitable? Khan was dethroned thus? how the decoration of the madrasa is not? been completed and the architect did not finish the project. IS? the last great Bukhara Madrasa.
Opposite following the mirror arrangement called Kosh or two similar buildings facing each other, c? ? the madrasa Ulugh Beg, nephew of Tamerlane, a man of high talent and sensitive to the dissemination of culture and science, who had it built in 1417, the first of the three erected by his will. The name of the builder of this monument? written in the tympanum of the portal; Ismail ibn Takhir ibn Makhmud Ispfargoni. ? It is possible that he is a grandson of one of the masters captured by Timur in Iran and who left their name on the portal of the Gur-Amir complex in Samarkand. The facade, decorated with majolica tiles at the behest of Abdullah Khan in 1585, ends with two minarets that were originally much more? tall. A trip to the bazaars whose construction dates back to the sixteenth century when the city? it became the capital and for a center like Bukhara, a point of exchange of goods along the Silk Road, they were a factor of extreme vivacity. Along the main routes there are several bazaars:
This bazaar is located not too far from Lyab-i Hauz and used to be the bazaar of the money changers. It was built towards the end of the th century, where an aryk (aqueduct) stood.
Taki-Telpak Furushon
It was originally the hatters' bazaar. One of the most internal structures? in evidence ? undoubtedly the large spherical dome of 14,5 m in diameter where most of the shops are concentrated.
The word zargaron means "jewelry", in fact this was the jewelers' bazaar with 36 shops. According to the chronicles of Khafizi Tanysh in 1569-70 it was the most? ancient and important bazaar of the city.
Tim Abdullakhan
Even this bazaar with an imposing dome,? full of activities? commercial.
We wander around this bazaar full of shops that sell souvenirs for tourists. We do not buy anything as we already have? what to take home as a souvenir? Unexpected encounters: a married couple and a dombra player, a long-necked lute decorated with metal strings.
Let's go back to the hotel to rest. This evening we will attend a show of dances and songs interspersed with locally produced fashion shows in the evocative setting of the Nodir Divan Beghi madrasa with relative dinner.

3 day

8 May

A very important visit this morning: the Mausoleum of Ismail Samani.
Of all the medieval buildings in Bukhara,? of particular interest. This world-famous architectural masterpiece was built in the late 900th century. Ismail ibn Aḥmad, also known as Ismail Samani, was the Samanid Emir of Transoxiana and Khorasan and the son of Ahmad ibn Asad and a descendant of Saman Khuda, the homonymous ancestor of the Samanid dynasty who renounces? to Zoroastrianism and hugs? Islam. (The Samanid dynasty owes its name to Saman Khoda, the progenitor, representative of the old Persian aristocracy, and was therefore one of the first indigenous dynasties of Islamic Persia. It was vassal of the Abbasids since the four grandsons of Saman were rewarded with territories by the caliph. for their faithful service, until the reign of Ismāʿīl I who became de facto independent. Ismāʿīl conquered the domains of the Sapphariids (999) and the Zaydites of Tabaristan, and extended his empire over large areas of Central Asia, on Afghanistan and eastern Iran. His successors failed to continue his policy and fell under the influence of the Turks of the royal guard (Ghaznavids), who became dominant at court and who, together with the Karakhanids, ended the Samanid kingdom in 1005. The last representative of the dynasty, Isma'il II, tried to save some of his territories but was assassinated in ) Source Wikipedia
The mausoleum was erected as a family crypt soon after the death of Ismail Samani's father. Pi? later, Ismail himself and his nephew Hasr were also buried there. Erecting crypts was against Islamic law at the time, why? Islam forbade erecting any post-mortem monument on the graves of Muslim believers however, the ban was half broken. of the ninth century by one of the caliphs himself, for whom a special mausoleum was built, therefore Ismail limited himself? to follow his example. The mausoleum reveals a? very simple architecture that can be seen in its composition consisting of a hemispherical dome resting on a cube of 9 meters per side and in the balanced design of the identical facades and interiors. The nucleus ? characterized by regular fired bricks that form horizontal and vertical patterns on the walls. The good conservation of? building was possible because during the l? invasion of the Turks was entirely covered with earth as had happened for the Maghoki-Attar mosque. Disappeared for many centuries, it was found in 1930 by? Russian archaeologist Sciscin.
And now, Then-Kalyan, the main architectural complex in the center of Bukhara, located on the road to the international trade. intersection of "four bazaars".
Kalyan means "the pedestal of the Great" where? Great? refers to the minaret of the homonymous mosque. There are four monuments: the Kalyan mosque and the Miri-Arab madrasa, one in front of the other; between them c '? the minaret and south of Miri-Arab c '? the small Amir-Allimkhan madrasa.
The mosque
It dates back to 1514 and? the second pi? large of Central Asia with a width of 127 by 78 meters and can? host 12.000 believers. The perimeter of the courtyard? built with domed galleries (there are 208 pillars and 288 domes). The mosque? quite simple and traditional in design and has few decorations, only the portal? richly decorated. ? Interestingly, archaeological research has revealed an earlier decoration, consisting of six-sided tiles and a mosaic border, marked by the name of the master who created it, Bayazid Purani, and dates back to the th century.
The minaret
A series of horizontal bands rise towards the top; the bricks are arranged in relief and become particularly striking when hit by the sun's rays. Hazar-baf (a thousand weaves)? the Persian term that indicates this technique of arranging the bricks inspired by fine fabrics. At the beginning of the 2th century Arslan-khan ordered? to rebuild the minaret of the old mosque but when the construction work was finished, the minaret collapsed? and 3/1127 of it were damaged, Arslan-khan ordered? to rebuild it. With an inscription in turquoise majolica, under the light frame, we read that it was finished in 45,6. L? architect was Bako who laid the foundations disappeared? to avoid being urged by the governor prematurely to continue the work. It is said that he returned? only when he was sure of the good seal of the foundation, which was located ten meters underground. With its 9 meters high, a base with a diameter of meters, it was then the largest building. top of the world. Amazed by her beauty, Genghis Khan avoided? to have it destroyed. Pi? resembling a tower that was a minaret there? inspiration for others that were later made up to the twentieth century also in other cities? dell? Central Asia. Do you remember that The Mangit Uzbeks-khan executed thieves and criminals by having them thrown, closed in a sack, by? top of the minaret.
The Miri-Arab Madrasa
It is located opposite the mosque and was built in 1535 by Sayyid Mir Abdullah, a Yemeni Sufi saint who became known as Mir-i-Arab, and financed by Ubaydulla-khan with the sale of three thousand Persian slaves. The madrasa has a simple rectangular shape measuring 73 by 55 meters with two beautiful blue domes towering behind the portal. One covers the darkhana (class), the other the gurkhana, the space where Mir-i-Arab and Ubaydullah are buried, who strangely did not have their own mausoleum. With the exception of a short period (between 1925 and 1946), this? it has always been a functioning madrasa. It now houses 150 students who are engaged in various Islamic disciplines for five years. The madrasa was restored in 1997.
The Amir-Allimkhan Madrasa
Behind the minaret is this small madrasa built in 1914 and since 1924 used as a children's library. Here too is the computer taking over the books and the aspiration for young Uzbeks nowadays? mainly to get rich? ..
The many madrasas of Bukhara have beautiful architecture and refined decorations, yet the students lived in small dark cells, usually without windows, in which they had to prepare meals and burn wood for heating.
Back to the bazaar? What we would less poetically call market ?. and another meeting with a lute player. The exploration of a bazaar In Uzbekistan? characterized by the call to the foreigner? Frans !? and look with sympathy?. interested? we Italians too, mentioning Al Bano, Toto Cotugno and some football teams. This ? what arrives of us in Uzbekistan: should we lend more? attention to our international image.
Jasur, our guide, takes us to a? Marionette workshop? of painted papier-mâché, where the emir, the beauties of the harem and the brave knights, all in fabulous costumes, are ready to stage heroic deeds and fatal loves. We buy two. Puppet shows are a well-established tradition in many countries and the tradition of puppet theater in Uzbekistan dates back to the th-th century BC, however, it was in the th century that it gained wide circulation, under the Timurid Empire, created by the leader Turkish-Mongolian Tamerlane. Even today the performances are made in the theaters of Uzbekistan and the laboratory where we go?, According to the? teaches, the pi? important dell? Central Asia.
Unmissable and inevitable? Stop in a carpet market ?.
After a tour downtown to see the illuminated minaret, we have dinner in a nice restaurant located on a terrace from which you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city. A half moon in the sky is the backdrop to the illuminated Kalyan minaret.
Last night in Bukhara tomorrow departure for Samarkand with a stop in Shakrisabz.

4 day

9 May

After breakfast we leave and we will make a stop in SHAKHRISABZ after 264 km of route. The country ? consisting for the most part of desert but with many farms for cultivation of cotton in the west and? rich in mineral resources such as oil, gas and gold.
Shakhrisabz? one of the cities? pi? beautiful and colorful Uzbekistan and is located 80 km south of Samarkand, beyond the Takhta-Karacha crossing. Today this wonderful city? ? pi? famous thanks to Amir Temur (Tamerlane), born on April 9, 1346, in the nearby village of Hodja-Ilgar by a noble landowner. After the conquest in 1380, transform? Shakhrisabz, whose original name was Kesh, in his residence and ord? to build the palace, known as Ak-Saray (White Palace). From the window I observe the steppe and I would like to criticize: the steppe? empty, the steppe has no life, where are the camels? where the flocks? But no something c? ?! I see some camels! I see some flock of black sheep! But I also see an endless row of neat and clean rural houses with tin roofs, with long, low stables, from the Soviet period. We arrive in Shakhrisabz the native city of the great Timur.
But who was Tamerlano?
Timur Barlas or Temur-i lang (Temur, nicknamed "the lame" for a wound in his right leg received in battle along with other wounds that had invalidated the use of his right arm.), Italianized in Tamerlane, lived for almost seventy years , establishing himself as the conqueror more? ferocious of history. If we are to believe what his enemies said, the? Warlord ?, who in the fourteenth century created? an empire that stretched from China to the heart of Asia Minor, was precisely the most? bloodthirsty of all time. Among the most practices? recurring there was mass beheading ?? Was the taste for battle in him like this? strong that even when he returned to Samarkand, to celebrate his victories, he preferred to camp outside the walls rather than? staying in a luxurious palace. On January 19, 1405, about to wage a new war, which should have led him to the conquest of China, Tamerlane died, not in battle, but in his bed, old and worn out by disease.
What to add?
We arrive in the huge Amir Temur square which? truly splendid. It was built to connect the Ak-Saray complex with other historical monuments. Particular attention was given to landscape design with fountains, pergolas, cultural places, which undoubtedly attract the attention of visitors. In the center of the immense square (which was once occupied by the entire palace) stands a statue of the sovereign placed against the background of the remains of the Ak-Saray palace. Tamerlane had written in large letters on the portal in order to impress foreign visitors:
"If you have any doubts about our power, look at our buildings"
Today this sentence? aimed at tourists from all over the world
Shakhrisabz?, Above all, associated with the Ak-Saray palace. Many incredible legends are related to the history of the building of the palace, and according to one of them, after the main construction works were completed, Timur began? to tell the artisans to hurry up and finish the decorative coating of the building but not seeing progress he ordered? what l? Iranian architect Mukhammad Yasuf Tabriz was brought before him, but he disappeared after hanging a chain in the center of the main arch of the building. Since? no other craftsman of equal skill could be found, the building remained unfinished. Some time later, however, the architect suddenly reappeared and, after making sure that the chain on the entrance arch had lowered, so the foundations were well settled, he resumed the work to decorate the building. When Timur asked for an explanation of his strange disappearance and sudden reappearance, the architect replied: "I did not dare to disobey the command of my sovereign, but I could not carry it out without a certainty of stability. In both cases, a punishment awaited me. severe, since such a majestic building must have a firm foundation, or else all the decorations on it would have been lost. ”The great ruler appreciated the architect's wisdom and resourcefulness. Unfortunately only the grandiose work has survived. traces of its two towers, 65 meters high and decorated with ceramic mosaics, blue, white and gold.We buy from a local artist some beautiful watercolors and a computer reconstruction of the probable appearance of the "white palace".
The Darus-Siadat complex was intended for the entire Timurid dynasty and was founded after the premature death of Timur's eldest son, Jehangir, in 1376. After his death, his body was moved from Samarkand to Shakhrisabz, the historical homeland of the ancestors. . Several years later, Timur called? the best architects and craftsmen of Khorezm and ordin? them to erect the tomb of the prince, the Jehangir Mausoleum. Behind the Darus Siadat c '? an underground room with a wooden door leading to the Tamerlane crypt, discovered in 1943. The room? simple except for the Karanic quotes on the strings, which read as follows: "Supremacy belongs only to Allah. He is Eternal", and "All is good in Allah's hands, is almighty". In the center of the room c '? the marble sarcophagus, covered with a huge tombstone also of monolithic marble, which is 11 centimeters thick, with 5 iron rings attached to the corners and in the center. Calligraphic engravings were found on the stone which allowed archaeologists to attribute the tomb to Tamerlane. In reality? his body was then transported to Samarkand and buried in the Gur-e Mir mausoleum and not in the native Shahrisabz.
It was built in the memorial complex in 1435-1436 and? the "P? grand mosque on friday? of Shakhrisabz built by Ulugbek. The construction of the mosque? crowned by a huge dome covered with blue ceramic tiles that gave the mosque its name: Kok Gumbaz means "blue dome". Around the drum of the dome c '? the inscription with white glazed tiles: "Sovereignty belongs to Allah, wealth belongs to Allah". The interior space? almost square with four deep niches oriented towards every corner of the earth and the walls covered with ganch stucco and panels painted with intricate ornaments in gold and bright colors that bear floral elements, cypresses, palmettes and imaginative arabesques.
Construction of the late nineteenth century. typical dell? Central Asia with an internal winter prayer hall and an entrance talar. IS? present on the square a centuries-old tree that according to a marble plaque? L? from 1370 while on a marble plaque? engraved a nice thought:

In holy places, does holy power protect the trees planted by our ancestors century after century?
Islam Karimov
Karimov, Uzbek president, was half? Uzbek, by the father, and by half? Tajik, from the mother. Did he grow up in a Soviet state orphanage and study? then mechanical engineering in Tashkent. Gi? member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, he presided over the republic of Uzbekistan from when it became independent in 1991 until his death.
We have lunch in a restaurant and resume the journey towards Samarkand which is still about 160 km away. We arrive there in the late afternoon and stay at the? Hotel Registan, nothing short of fabulous!
The history of Samarkand is about 2.750 years old and? witnessed many upheavals during the time of Alexander the Great, the Arab conquest, the conquest of Genghis-Khan and finally that of Tamerlane. So, the culture of Samarkand? been developed and mixed with Iranian, Indian, Mongolian and some Western and Eastern culture.
Beautiful and majestic, she has a wonderful and attractive power. Poets and historians of the past called it "Rome of the East, the beauty of the sublunar countries, the pearl of the eastern Muslim world". Its advantageous geographical position in the Zarafshan valley puts Samarkand in first place among the cities. of Central Asia.
Throughout history this legendary city? on the Silk Road crossed? growths and decays, suffer? invasions of foreign sovereigns and was reborn again becoming more? beautiful. Samarkand today? included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001 for its unique monuments of ancient architecture, famous all over the world.
Here, too, we naturally find a monument to Tamerlane which depicts him sitting on his throne at an early age. advanced. Samarkand was his home after all!
After dinner we go to attend a show at the El Merosi theater.
? THE EREDIT? OF PEOPLES? ? a non-program to which we adhere with pleasure; tells Uzbekistan through dance and magnificent costumes. The El Merosi theater offers a journey into the fashions and dances that were established in different eras of ancient Samarkand. To inspire the designers who made these costumes, were the archaeological finds but also thanks to the ancient frescoes.
The representation consists of 11 paintings referring to historical moments:
1. Saci and Massageti (Scythians) VII-III century. BC-They were europoids, spoke Indo-Iranian languages ​​and were excellent equestrian warriors and archers.
2. Achaemenids th-th cent. BC-The dynasty of the kings of? ancient Persia.
3. The goddess Anhita-In Zoroastrian mythology the goddess of? water and fertility.
4. The kingdom of Kushan-Formed at the dawn of the first century. AD reached the maximum development of prosperity? but also of slavery.
5. Dance of Dreams- (The Sogdian Girl) -The Sogdians were the ancestors of modern Uzbeks and were trading intermediaries on the Silk Road.
6. L? Sogdiano empire-Scenic reference to the frescoes of Afrasiab l? original foundation of Samarkand called Maracanda by the ancient Greeks.
7. Calendar-Do the dresses give a? idea of ​​the changing of the seasons and are reconstructed according to the materials of? ? Avesta ?, collection of sacred Zoroastrian texts, the most? ancient monument of? ancient Iranian literature.
8. The Munogiot-Uzbek classical dance on Tanovor chant (The word composed of two parts:? Tan-body or soul ?, and? Ovar? -Pleasure, that is pleasure of the soul and the body.
9. The Timurids-Turkish Dynasty of? Central Asia (1370-1507) founded by Amir Timur (Tamerlane).
10. Lazghi-The dance of Corasmia, fiery, energetic and very passionate, very rhythmic and ultimately unstoppable.
11. The th century wedding ceremony. ? remained unchanged until today. Uzbek weddings are distinguished by the greatness of the details and rituals.
Surprisingly, they take us to the famous illuminated Registan square: how much beauty all together! Real gem located in the heart of the ancient city? of Samarkand, has gained its worldwide fame thanks to the large architectural complex that? become a monument of oriental architecture. We will see better tomorrow.
We return to the hotel very satisfied.

5 day

10 May

The day begins with an exciting visit: THE REGISTAN.
Let's remember the meaning of Registan:
The Registan was a public square, (the Greek agor and the Roman forum comes to mind) where people gathered to hear the royal proclamations, announced by blasts of huge copper pipes called dzharchis but also a place of public executions. It was also used for military parades, training and ceremonies and often the "Zindan" (prison) was nearby.
On three sides the square? occupied by large madrasas, of which the two portals face each other, re-proposing the singular urban layout identified with the name of kosh which, as we have seen in Bukhara, has had a wide use. Registan refers to the sand present which was supposed to absorb the blood that flowed during the executions, hence the name Registan, "place of sand" when this space created in the th century (designed by Timoer Lenk) became the scene for public executions. IS? one of the most? beautiful in the world, grandiose and intimate, more? large of a soccer field and paved with marble tile mosaic.
The complex ? consisting of three madrasahs:
MADRAS OF ULUGH BEG (th century)
MOTHER OF SHIR-DAR (th century)
MOTHER OF TILA-KARI (th century.
All are richly decorated, with splendid geometric motifs that seem to multiply indefinitely and with arabesques, turquoise, green and yellow glazed tiles are wrapped like branches. L? obvious inclination of some of the minarets? was caused by the numerous earthquakes that devastated the area. ? amazing how much the complex seems to form a single unit? even if c '? a period of over two hundred years between the construction of the first and last madrasa.
Nephew of Tamerlane, a well-known mathematician and astronomer, he assumed power in 1409 and in 1417, he gave the order to build the madrasa which would later be given his name. The building, located in the western part of the square? rectangular in shape with a square courtyard inside with entrances to student rooms (approximately 100 people) and study rooms. The facade of the Madrasa overlooks the square, completed with two tall minarets placed in the corners and covered with glazed bricks that create splendid designs. The portal of the madrasa? adorned with motifs of ten-pointed stars that symbolize the sky and astronomy. At that time, it was the most? great scientific-educational institute of Samarkand where philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, theology were taught.
Style ? an imitation of the Ulugh begh Madrasah built between 1619 and 1636 and its name Shir Dor means? decorated with tigers? in fact on the tympanums of the arch of the portal are represented tigers with two? suns? anthropomorphs attacking a fallow deer. Ribbed domes on high towers rise next to the two floors of the facade on either side of the portico while Islamic inscriptions, geometric and floral decorations adorn the interior.
Its name means "covered in gold" and it also functions as a mosque. In the middle? from the th century, the mosque built previously by Tamerlane and dedicated to his wife Bibi-Khanym was in ruins so Yalangtush-biy had it built on the Registan and was also used as a madrasa. The main facade of the building? built on two levels with the central portal that has a niche and two entrances leading to the inner courtyard, the blue dome of the mosque to the left of the portal and two minarets on both sides. The construction beautifully balances the two largest madrasas. large without disturbing the unit? of the architectural style. The rich gilding of the dome and the mihrab super? all other famous Central Asian buildings.
We move to the architectural complex wanted by Tamerlano and called Gur-i Amir, tomb of? emir.
Did it initially include a madrasa built for his beloved nephew Moukhammed-Sultan Mirza and intended as a place of learning for the children of the nobility? of Samarkand and a khanaka. The balance between strength and refinement? further accentuated by the two mausoleums flanking the Gour-Emir on either side however, Tamerlane did not live to see the finished mausoleum; mor? in the winter of 1405 and even if it had already? prepared a mausoleum in his native Shakhrisabz, it was Gur Emir who became his tomb and burial place of his descendants, in fact here rest his two sons Shahrukh and Miranshah and his grandsons Muhammad Sultan Mirza, Ulugbek but also his spiritual mentor Mir Said Baraka . The octagonal plan of the mausoleum? surmounted by a very high circular drum on which rises a formidable majolica dome softened by 64 ribs that create games d? shadow. In the center of the hall are the cenotaphs commemorating over Tamerlane, Miran shah his third son, his nephew Moukhammed-Sultan Mirza, Mir Syyd Baraka, Abdurakham Mirza and his nephew and great statesman Ulugh Beg. The tombstone of saint Sayyd Umar? placed in the center in an arch identified by a pole bearing a ponytail on top. Internally, the Gur-e Amir appears as a vast and high room with deep niches on the sides and variously decorated. We meet a group of women, one tells us in Uzbek, then in Russian: "where are you from?" ... then the other women add ... "they don't even understand Russian" ... ?
Stop for lunch at the hotel with a pleasant surprise:
the? FRANCOROSSO? offers us a splendid cake!
Visit to the famous MEROS silk paper factory founded by the Mukhtarov brothers, located in Konigil, a village near Samarkand. Thanks to their efforts, the local factory has revived an ancient tradition based on the old technologies of Samarkand and? interesting to note that the production? manual and we can observe the paper making process live. L? environment? truly picturesque: shady trees, the nearby river Siab with bubbling water that powers the mill that operates the hammering presses and a small hall at the entrance to welcome visitors with a sweet tartare based on honey and dried fruit accompanied by tea.
Samarkand's paper production technology? the following.
The mulberry bark? considered a raw material that is cleaned and boiled in a large container for about five hours, then it is beaten to make the resulting mush homogeneous and consistent, which is then placed in a tub with water and filtered on a large sheet of flazelin (tulle) , pressed onto plates and then covered with a subsequent sheet of flazelin and a sifted mulberry mixture and so on. Street. The paper is removed from the plates and dried in an upright position for a day and is very robust. To remove the roughness of the paper, the master paper maker polishes it on a granite table with a bone horn to achieve its famous smoothness. It should be noted that the Samarkand paper which has a distinctive yellow color does not? bleached with chemicals, and therefore its shelf life? much more? longer than that of a simple white sheet. For example, if a normal white sheet of good quality? lasts for 40-50 years, the Samarkand card can? lasts for 300-400 years! Samarkand card today? widely used for restoration of old books both in Uzbekistan and in other countries of the world and? also protected from mice, which cannot digest mulberry bark. Was the Samarkand paper renowned for its quality? and many Persian and Arabic texts of the th and th centuries were written on it.
? The best paper in the world is produced in Samarkand ?, wrote Babur, a descendant of the Central Asian ruler Tamerlane and founder of the Mughal dynasty in India in the 16th? century.
After a nap in the hotel we are going to taste the famous? PLOV? the Uzbek version of the? Pilaf? (English term borrowed directly from the Turkish? pilav?), pride of Uzbek cuisine but it seems it belonged to the royal cuisine of the Great Mughals of? India (1526-1857). It mainly consists of fried or boiled meat, onions, carrots and rice; the variation consists in the addition of raisins, berberis, chickpeas and fruit. L? task of preparation? almost always male. The cooks usually prepare Plov over an open flame, and on special occasions they can serve up to a thousand people with a single cauldron. contain about 100 kg of rice. This explains the reason for so much pride: it takes a certain strength to turn 100 kg of rice! We are hosted by a local located in a Tajik house where the preparation is explained to us. We also taste a good Uzbek wine which is not? not bad! Back to the hotel.

6 day

11 May

Today a series of interesting visits. It starts with:
The construction of the mosque which was supposed to be the most? beautiful and more? great of the kingdom, took? five years from 1399 to 1404 and was dedicated to Temur's favorite wife, Bibi Khanym, who was a Chinese princess. Consisting of a rectangular courtyard of 109 by 167 meters, surrounded by luxurious galleries, whose arches contained more? of three hundred marble columns, minarets towering on each side, exterior walls approximately 167 meters long and 109 meters wide, glittering walls and an imposing mosque portal decorated with marble. Unfortunately shortly after the construction was completed, when the mosque became the site of the ceremonial acts of worship, the building began? to collapse: the creator's idea to build such a building? magnificent had been too bold for that period. Unfortunately the complex did not succeed? to play its full role due to the many earthquakes so much so that in 1646 the functions of Friday? they were transferred to the mosque located in the TILLA-KORI madrasa which is part of the Registan complex. The building kept a Koran (Koran Osman), according to tradition one of the most? ancient qurans of history, which? now in Tashkent but its marble lectern, to which magical powers are attributed,? still there. Women crawl under it three times in hopes of increasing their fertility.
The central market of Samarkand is located near the Bibi-Khanum mosque. It has no more? its old buildings, but? You can still find here the spirit of the old shopping center and the culture of the big city, with dried fruit and nuts, traditional sweets, so on. tasty that the residents of the capital come here to buy them. Crossing the portal d? entrance, we find ourselves in a different, almost magical atmosphere, with many bright colors, a din of voices of customers and traders who crowd the market to buy and sell starting before dawn and ending in the late evening. The numerous chai-khanas (tea-drinking pavilions) are filled with the atmosphere of hospitality. traditional of Samarkand. And finally, the characteristic Samarkand "obi-non" bread, baked in clay ovens, with a round shape similar to the solar disc? famous for its special taste and originality? decoration. Samarkand bread? produced in 17 different types! ? You can also find a number of spices but also pieces of local craftsmanship. What? an oriental market without tasting?! there, as in any other bazaar, kindhearted vendors will not only allow you to taste the product before buying it, but also insist that the main feature of an oriental bazaar? that of bargaining, a habit that Asian inhabitants have formed since childhood. Except for fresh and varied products, the Siab market has another feature: this? the place where you can find the latest news and events happening in the city. Uzbeks are very sociable and people get involved in conversations even with strangers.
Not far c ?? there
It is an ancient mosque dedicated to the prophet al-Khidr built in VIII century then set on fire and destroyed by the hordes of Genghis Khan in the XIII century and since then it remained a ruin until 1854 when it was rebuilt. In the 90s of the last century a rich citizen of Bukhara financed? the restoration and today can? be considered one of the most? beautiful mosques in the city. In the upper square, from which there is a suggestive panoramic view of the city, is the tomb of the president and great statesman and politician Islam Karimov.
Continuing along the route, you go along the hills where the ancient settlement of Afrasiab was (VII-II century BC). In reality? ? the settlement of ancient Samarkand from the pre-Mongol period and was the site of urban life from the 1220th century BC until the destruction by Mongol troops in 329. The next stop? the archaeological museum which houses some finds of ancient Afrosiab, conquered by Alexander the Great in 1220 BC and, later, destroyed by the Mongols of Genghis Khan in . Of Afrasiab the walls and various buildings have been found, in one of it was discovered a large fresco (visible in the museum) representing a caravan of important personalities? and ambassadors visiting the king and, even if partial and damaged, gives the idea through an accurate reconstruction of the importance of the city. Let's go back and overcoming the gi? view of the HAZRAT-HIZR Mosque, we enter the site of the
One of the most architectural monuments mysterious and unique of Samarkand burial place of royal and noble people, it consists of rows of refined tombs of shimmering colors, harmoniously combined in a lively and moving composition, with the mausoleums grouped along the narrow medieval street, built one after the other between L? 640th and 13th century All are square, with a dome, whose entrance? marked by a portico, rich in architectural decorations, majolica and mosaics. The main mausoleum with which the necropolis begins, seems to be the imaginary tomb of the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, Kusam-ibn-Abbas who according to a legend came to preach in Samarkand in but after years was beheaded by the Zoroastrians while praying and it is believed that is still alive and will return? The complex became an important pilgrimage center and was revered by the people as a sacred place. A lively and moving composition, various mausoleums are grouped along the narrow medieval streets so that it is also called "street cemetery".
We resume the route that this time takes us to the bus?
The wonder of medieval Uzbekistan, a unique construction for its time, was built by Mohammed Taragai Ulugh Begh, grandson of Amir Timur, in 1428-1429 on top of a hill. The building had a round shape, 46 meters in diameter and 30 meters in height and a huge sextant was placed in the main room for observations of the Moon, the Sun and other stars of the celestial vault. Among the other instruments used in the observatory there were the armillary sphere and the astrolabe of which we observe reproductions in? attached museum. The accuracy of the observations of the Samarkand astronomers? surprising, why? they were made without the aid of optical instruments, with the naked eye. The astronomical tables contain the coordination of 1018 stars. With incredible precision, Ulugh Beg's calculation of the length of one year, which was equal to 365 days 6 hours 10 minutes 8 seconds, differs little from that made in modern times that? than 365 days 6 hours 9 minutes 9,6 seconds, so the error? just less than a minute. Unfortunately only the underground part of the sextant and the base of the building were saved: a few years later, in 1449, the science center was destroyed by religious fanatics and was only rediscovered in 1908 by the Russian archaeologist VL Vyatkin. The precious library was also looted. Sin. Did it remind me so much of there? Jantar Mantar observatory in Jaipur in India.
We continue with a visit to the "Khudjum" carpet factory, where real masterpieces are strictly handcrafted, woven on vertical or horizontal looms using only natural silk threads.
Unfortunately, in the mid-nineteenth century the technology of producing these unique items was almost lost and only at the end of the nineties of the last century, with a tiring task, trade forgotten? been gradually revived in Margilan, Khiva and Samarkand. In the workshop many girls work on the looms but I notice that they are sitting on a very uncomfortable bench?
We have lunch at the hotel and go to the train station where we leave with the fast Afrosiab train that will whiz? with peaks up to 254 km / h along the approximately 320 kilometers between Samarkand and the capital where we arrive after 2 hours and 10 ?.

7 day

11 May

Tashkent? the capital of the Republic of Uzbekistan and one of the cities? pi? on the Great Silk Road from China to Europe. The first information about Tashkent, as a settlement, is found in the ancient sources of the nd century BC From Chinese sources it was called Yuni and also Shi, in the inscription of the Persian king Shapur I the oasis of Tashkent was called Chach while the Arabs called it Shash . According to Beruniy and Mahmud Kashgariy, the name Tashkent appeared in Turkish sources of the th-th century while in Russia, in the th century, it was known as Tashkura. Since ancient times the advantageous geographical position and the favorable climate have made Tashkent one of the main points of the Great Silk Road.
We arrive in the evening at the Hotel Miran, fabulous and elegant and we have a 65 sqm suite! IS? even true that there? happened other times but this time? truly amazing!
Dinner ? excellent and? cheered by two Uzbek music players.
12 May
Last day in Uzbekistan. After a hearty breakfast we go by bus to the monumental complex of Khast Imam with Barak Khan's madrasa.
This complex? the religious center of the city? founded in the sixteenth century near the tomb of one of the first imams of the city? of Tashkent, the famous scientist Hazrati (full name - Abu-Bakr Muhammad Kaffal Shashi), poet and scholar of the Qur'an and Hadith. (Adith: In the Muslim canonical tradition, short narrative relating to the Prophet's sayings or facts).
In the small museum of this complex? hosted a rich collection of oriental manuscripts and d? preserved the Koran of Osman, the main Islamic source and the most? ancient text that has come down to us (written in the middle of the 353th century). It is a copy covered in deerskin made up of large sheets of parchment. A legend tells that the Caliph Osman was killed intent on reading it by staining the sacred book with his blood.
The ancient manuscript of enormous dimensions, containing 353 pages of parchment with the original text of the Koran was preserved for centuries in the cities. of Medina, Damascus and Baghdad. From Damascus, during the reign of Timur, Osman's Koran reached Uzbekistan, then was sent to Moscow at the end of the 1924th century, where it was kept until the revolution. It was then brought to Tashkent in , Lenin's homage to Uzbek Muslims.
Barakh-khan Madrasa
It was built in the th century by Suyunidzh-khan, Ulugbek's grandson and? became the place of spiritual administration of Central Asian Muslims. There is a rich library of oriental manuscripts.
We conclude cos? the visit to the museum and we go to Amir Timur square (Tamerlane), built in 2009, which is located in the city center? and originally it was a small park with centenary plane trees and the equestrian statue of Tamerlane in the center. Wide avenues converge on it and the most? important buildings of the city? like the University? of law studies, the Amir Timur museum and the grandiose Forum Palace which hosts important events. This modern building, built in 2009, has a large dome surmounted by figures of storks, reaches 48 meters in height and with elevations dominated by high columns that reflect the Uzbek tradition in the design. We take a break for lunch based on rice salad, rolls and vegetable soup with stew.
A visit to the subway.

Tashkent has a subway that is divided into three lines (red, blue and green) made by the Soviets and in service since 1977. We start from Chorsu station (blue line), with walls finely covered in light marble and a splendid ceiling, and we reach the Kosmonavtlar stop. On the walls of the Kosmonavtlar, entirely covered with tiles ranging from light blue to turquoise to an intense blue, some Russian and Uzbek astronauts are represented. We return to the surface and head towards our next destination: Independence Square. INDEPENDENCE SQUARE (MUSTAKILLIK SQUARE)
After the 1966 earthquake, the city? it was rebuilt and furnished according to the typical Soviet planning: wide avenues, imposing buildings, green parks and immense squares. Tashkent's former Red Square example of the old Soviet style with a modern twist? now known as Independence Square. All around there are government buildings such as the presidential palace and many ministries and on the west side the new parliament building. It is the favorite place of Tashkent residents for both the numerous fountains and the manicured gardens. In the Soviet period the square took the name of Lenin and? in this period it took on its present appearance. In 1991, with the declaration of independence, the square took the name of Piazza dell? Independence and the Lenin monument was replaced with a globe on which? marked the plant of? Uzbekistan.
The square area? of almost 12 hectares and around it there are many government buildings and institutions. In a green and quiet area we find the monument dedicated to the mothers of the 400.000 Uzbek soldiers who died for their homeland in the Second World War; on the sides of the area, along the wooden galleries, are shown, in a series of niches, books with pages in metal plates, where their names are engraved.
A quick visit to:
In Uzbekistan, great attention is paid to the development of traditional crafts and the Abul Kasim Center for Applied Arts,? It was established as part of this initiative and here you can find the works of skilled artisans and skilled embroiderers: carpets, shawls, scarves, bags embroidered in traditional style. The building itself? a historical monument built in the middle? of the nineteenth century and here was the sanctuary, where according to legend, few hairs from the beard of the? Prophet? were preserved.

8 day

After lunch we go to the hotel to prepare for departure for the? Italy.
Our flight departs at 15.05 (local time) arriving in Milan at 19.15 (local time). About 7 hours of flight to cover 4808.29 kilometers.
As a result of the expansion of Russia during the 60s and 70s, a large part of Central Asia, including an important part of Uzbekistan, was incorporated into the Russian Empire. Between 1922 and 1991 Uzbekistan was one of the 15 republics that were part of the USSR.
Had the Uzbeks begun to master their state already? in full Soviet regime thanks to their strong demographic growth and the process of democratization with the disintegration of the USSR led there? Uzbekistan to obtain full independence and sovereignty in 1991. We noticed the presence of many Chevrolet cars, in fact the? GM Uzbekistan? ? a joint venture between? OJSC UzAvtosanoat? (75%) and the? General Motors Company? (25%) of the United States for automobile production, and is located in Asaka. The factory produces vehicles under the Ravon brand, and also produces Chevrolet. We have a MATIZ!
Culture changes across the country. In schools, classes in Russian have almost completely disappeared while before they were the most prestigious, today we study almost exclusively in Uzbek, how? Naturally, even if you still study Russian, but most of the teaching is done in Uzbek. The Russian writings that I see around, the people who speak Russian, make me think of a people who have lost their identity? and submissive? This could lead you to imagine a sad and closed people, actually? ? exactly the opposite. Uzbeks are sunny, always smiling and super welcoming. I think I have never seen in my life a country more? welcoming Uzbekistan: everyone looks at you curiously and talks to you with a lot of education; in the markets they invite you to taste their products, they ask you where you come from and where you will go and they are disappointed when they see that you don't speak Russian (I happened to be in Samarkand), they are photographed with you and they are always ready to help you. Uzbeks are a very hospitable and friendly people.
A popular proverb says:
? If you don't have delicious food for a guest, do you have to have sweet words for him?
The tourist ? sacred in these parts! In Uzbekistan I felt at ease.
POOLATION: 28.929.716 inhabitants (2014).
DENSIT? POPULATION: 65 inhabitants per square kilometer.
LIFE EXPECTANCY: 73,3 years - men 70.3 and women 76.5 years (2014)
About 80% of the population? Uzbek.
In addition, there are large groups of Russians, Kazakhs, Tajiks and Tatars.
Most of the population (88%)? Muslim (Sunni), to a lesser extent Russian Orthodox Christians (9%). The remaining 3% adhere to a different religion.

The national flag of the Republic? rectangular, with three horizontal stripes: blue, white and green.
-The blue ? the symbol of sky and water, which are the main source of life.
-The White ? the traditional symbol of peace and happiness.
-The green ? the color of nature, new life and a good harvest.
-Two thin red stripes symbolize the power of life.
-The moon, symbolizes the new independent Republic.
-The twelve stars represent the spiritual signs.
The stars also represent the historical traditions of the Uzbek people, such as the old calendar of the sun but can also indicate the states that previously existed on the territory of Uzbekistan.
The currency ? the? SUM? present only in banknotes and since? the exchange with the euro? very favorable you will find yourself with a huge wad of sum and you will not know where to put it: think that a beer costs 20.000 sum!
If you decide to visit this special country, know that the best travel period in spring is from early May to late June and in autumn from September to November.
Uzbekistan? a fabulous country and it really surprised me.
A true testimony of the history of many peoples and empires.

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