Samarkand, the city of architectural masterpieces and monuments pieced together by the legendary ruler Tamerlane, is a spectacle centuries ago as it remains today.
Samarkand's history is a rich scroll as it unfolds, beginning as one of Central Asia's oldest cities and eventually prospering over the centuries due to its location along the ancient Silk Road trade route. Located in modern-day Uzbekistan, Samarkand was ruled over time by various Sogdian, Greek, Arab, and Mongol empires. Under Timur in the 14th century, the city became the dazzling capital of the Timurid Empire and a center of art, culture, and architecture. Masterpieces such as the Registan ensemble of madrasas and the Gur-e Amir mausoleum were constructed during Timur's rule, sparking in the desert landscape as if a mirage. The influx of merchants traveling through the city trading precious goods like silk, spices, and paper coupled with Timur massive military campaigns supported the exorbitant costs of construction.
Today, Samarkand is Uzbekistan's second largest city and still has the pull of the ancient trade routes, captivating passerby's with its Islamic architecture. Though the Registan is undoubtedly the iconic heart of the city, beyond lies sites like the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis and Ulug Beg Observatory that give further insights into Samarkand's Timurid past. Though Samarkand is appraching modernity faster than many other historic cities of Central Asia, wandering the streets still offers a chance to step back in time and imagine the trade, cultural exchange, and grandeur of its heyday as a Silk Road metropolis.
THE SILK ROAD JOURNAL
How We Got Here
Samarkand is well connected throughout Central Asia, with rail being the most common entry point with an airport picking up more locations monthly. We arrived via road from Bukhara following the historic Zarafshan Corridor.
Our first evening in Samarkand saw us wander towards the Asian Bazaar when the massive monument to Timur's wife appeared - the Bibi Khanym. It's grandeur mixed with elegance exuded vibes of Taj Mahal.
Immersing ourself in the heartbeat of the city, whether buying produce in the bazaar, paying homage to the Prophet Daniel, or sitting on the steps outside the Registan with the locals.
➨ The Seven Wonders of Samarkand ~ Coming Soon
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 ?
The string of cities in Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand surely spoiled you in your vast traverse across the Silk Roads, but the path diverges from whence the stakes are raised. You could choose the route towards Tashkent, eventually passing the Tianshan en route to China, or you could choose a "short cut" through Panjikent, eventually crossing some of the world's highest mountains.