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Penjikent - Sarazm


Along the Zarasthan river valley, at the crossroads of the vast plains of tilled land to the west and the wild mountains of nomadic pastures to the east, the dawn of civilization in Central Asia emerged.

What is now a dusty border outpost gives little hint of Panjakent's former glory. Yet peeling back its layers paints a different picture, one with several thousand years of history at the crossroads of empires. To the west of the modern day outpost, the site of Sarazm near the border of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan marks one of the earliest sites of proto-urban development in the region, flourishing as a center of agriculture and metal production in the 4th millennium BCE.

Farther along the river plains near Panjikent, the Sogdians established a prosperous Silk Road entrepot. The verdant valley sustained their orchards and vineyards, while merchants and nobles amassed fortunes from the caravans passing between China and Persia. Though Panjikent was destroyed by Arab invaders in the 8th century CE, its ruins today testify to over a thousand years of culture at the crosscurrents of Asia. From the Sarazm to Panjikent, these valley communities pioneered the march of civilization where the nomadic highlands taper into fertile plains. Their irrigation canals, bronze foundries, and bustling markets kindled lasting innovation at Asia’s crosscurrents. Arriving today, one would be hard pressed to imagine its earlier splendor, but it still lies there under the surface, waiting to be uncovered.

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Silk Road Base Map.jpg


How We Got Here

Penjikent lies around an hours drive east of Samarkand, easily reached by hiring two taxis, which is the method we employed to travel the distance.

The Highlight

Stepping into the ruins of ancient Penjikent while the sun set over the landscape. It was the first introduction to wild Tajikistan, and afforded some stunning views.

Our Treasure

Meeating the first Tajiks of Tajikistan, who were incredibly friendly and helping, most in particular our hotel manager who ensured every detail was taken car of.

Explore More

    ➨ Tajikistan and the Silk Road - Read the Story

S N A P S H O T S   O N   T H E   R O A D

W H E R E   W I L L   Y O U R   J O U R N E Y   T A K E   Y O U   N E X T ?

Penjikent's history is evident regardless the century one visits, but its previous wealth and power is all but gone. Continuing your journey involves some decisions - continue the valley eastward until heading north to Khujand on the main route, or enlist some guides and take the high passes of the Fann Mountains onwards to the Pamirs.


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