The Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan is about as far off the beaten track as one can get. Have you or any of your friends have been? Travel to this part of the world has been on the up in recent years, with intrepid travelers desperate to find out what this unknown part of the world has to offer. The answer may surprise you. Uzbekistan is home to a rich history, jaw-dropping architecture, and friendly people. All in all good reasons to visit on their own. Combined they form the backbone for an inspiring adventure. In this article, we’ll explore five of the best places to visit in Uzbekistan.
Best Places to Visit in Uzbekistan
The jewel in Uzbekistan’s crown, Samarkand is perhaps the most interesting of the Silk Road cities. This city is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Uzbekistan. It was the center of the empire belonging to the famous warlord Timur, who conquered much of Central Asia in the 14th century. The jewel of his mighty empire was the Bibi-Khaym Mosque. Today, the Mosque survives in all of its glory thanks to significant restoration work during the Soviet Union occupation. The central Registan Square is home to yet more Instagram-worthy architecture. To illustrate, highlights include three beautiful madrassahs from the 15th and 17th centuries. Other places worth visiting in the city include the green Central Park, the mausoleum of post-Soviet Uzbek ruler Karimov and the bustling Siob Bazaar, to do some Uzbek-style shopping.
Bukhara has something of a bloody history. With this in mind, the ancient Silk Road City is home to the famous Kalyan Minaret, nicknamed “Death Tower.” In centuries gone by, unfortunate prisoners would be thrown from the top of the tower to their deaths with cheering crowds watching from below. Nearby Zindon Prison was home to something equally as gruesome. As British soldiers, Connolly and Stoddart found out in the 1840s. The pair were finally executed by order of the Emir in 1842. As a result, the execution was carried out, after spending 4 long years confined to the notorious Bug Pit. This hole, accessed only by a rope, was home for the prisoners. Bugs, rats, and scorpions were tipped onto the prisoners. Then left to do as they please. Other less revolting sites in Bukhara include the impressive Kalon Mosque, Ark Fortress, and Ismail Samani Mausoleum.
No trip to Uzbekistan would be complete without visiting the capital city. Tashkent offers something a little different from the Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva. The city exploded with growth after being incorporated into the Soviet Union. Likewise, it is now laid out in a classic Soviet-style. Clean and modern, there are many fascinating sites to explore. The oldest surviving copy of the Koran in the world is housed at Hast Imam Square. Whilst the Tashkent TV Tower is the tallest building to be found anywhere in Central Asia. Chorsu Bazaar is a large open-air market where you can practice your bartering skills. A ride on the Tashkent Metro is worth it just to admire some of the extravagant architecture of the stations. Another influence becoming of Russia.
Khiva is the smallest Silk Road city in Uzbekistan, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing to a traveler to the country. The city is essentially a living museum, home to numerous ancient highlights. Perhaps the most breathtaking of these are the fortified city walls. These can be admired from below or walked on in sections without the need for a ticket. Equally important, wonderful Islamic architecture can be found in the city in the form of the turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret and the impressive Juma Mosque. Because the city is so small, local authorities have packed all of its main tourist sites onto a single ticket. The tickets provide great value. Tickets can be purchased on arrival and last for two days. This gives tourists plenty of time to see everything that Khiva has to offer.
The final highlight on our list is the vast emptiness of the Kyzylkum Desert. A wonderful way to explore the desert is to spend the night in a traditional Central Asian yurt. There are numerous yurt camps across the country that can be hired out by travelers looking to try out this traditional Central Asian accommodation. A Yurt is a circular tent that is easily collapsible. It has been popular with local nomads for generations. The portability allows them to pack up and move their livestock along in a hurry. Beds are comfortable and there tend to be proper facilities including a toilet. You’ll also get to tuck into some delicious local cuisine. In addition, one of the best things about camping in a desert is that there tends to be very little light pollution. Thus, stargazing is a magical way to spend the evening.
Best Places to Visit in Uzbekistan Summary
In short, Uzbekistan has a rich history waiting to be discovered, and a vibrant culture to explore. A trip to Uzbekistan offers something for everyone. There remains an air of mystery about the country. In fact, so few people have experienced it for themselves. Consequently, this makes now the perfect time to start thinking about the best places to visit in Uzbekistan. Plan your trip now before everyone else rushes to do the same.