Uzbekistan is maybe the easier Central Asian country to visit, far from the crazy bureaucracy of Turkmenistan, very less remote than Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and perhaps not dispersive as Kazakhstan is. Further being relatively easy to reach, Uzbekistan houses many places worth to visit. Some of them remind us to the famous Silk Road, others to a recent past when the country was member of USSR. Samarcanda and Bukhara are the most suggestive cities, but into Uzbekistan you can find really much more. A journey that must be done!
The Silk Road route through Uzbekistan made it an important crossroads between East and West, giving a special still evident cut to Uzbek art, architecture and culture. Museums in Uzbekistan are of absolute value and they have a richness of archaeological findings. Those who visit Uzbekistan should not miss them. A special museum, dedicated to Igor Savitsky, is in Nukus, the capital of Karakalpakstan. On this blog we have already written about it. The Karakalpakstan, together with the Khorezm, forms the northern part of Uzbekistan, an area of particular interest.
Tourism in this region is constantly increasing, both for the importance of remains of the ancient Khiva, third touristic centre of the country after Samarcanda and Bukhara, and for the more and more popular environmental theme tours. One of the greatest ecological tragedies of the planet is in the North of Uzbekistan: the Aral Lake, now a warning against the overexploitation of the environment; on its shores there is even the naval cemetery of Muynak. Other growing destination is Urgench, which benefited of her airport’s modernisation.
In the central part of Uzbekistan the tourist routes are mainly focused along the border with Turkmenistan, on roads running between two deserts: the Turkmen Karakum and the Uzbek Kyzylkum. Here is Bukhara, one of the most ancient cities in Central Asia and UNESCO heritage. Famous monuments are the Ark, the historic fortress, the Kalon Minaret and the Ismail Samani Mausoleum. Particularly interesting is the Gijduvan, a place where for centuries the artisans sell their marvellous artifacts, here you could do excellent purchases.
It’s impossible speaking of the Uzbekistan without to name Samarcanda, maybe one of the most famous cities in the world. Placed at the borders of the central zone, Samarcanda is the starting point toward the Ferghana Valley or the South of Uzbekistan, harsher regions but not without charm. To indicate every monument concerning the thousand-year history of this wonderful town is an impossibile task, it is enough to mention the Registan Complex end the Gur-Emir Mausoleum to highlight the unparalleled and unique heritage of the capital of the ancient Empire of Tamerlane. Absolutely to see!
The Ferghana Valley wedges between Tajikistan and Kyrkyzstan, where the enclave are dotted along often turbulent borders. The environment here is mountainous (The Greater Chimgan is 3309 meters above sea level), ideal for climbing, trekking and horseback riding enthusiasts. The Ferghana Valleys houses several ethnic groups, whose relations are not easy. In this region we can find the ancient cities of Kokand and Ferghana, and Tashkent, the modern capital. The cultural tourism lovers will find a lot of reasons to appreciate the Ferghana Valley as it deserves.