Must-See Places in Central Asia

The history and ancient culture of Central Asia make this region of the continent quite an exciting travel destination. A memorable bit of Central Asia history involves the trade route called Silk Road. It connected Asia with Europe and the Mediterranean, as well as Africa. Silk and other luxuries from China and India moved along this network, China’s silk road economic belt to the Mediterranean Sea.

Bukhara is a popular destination for Central Asia travel. Located on the Silk Road, Bukhara is the fifth-largest city in Uzbekistan, and one of the oldest cities in Central Asia. There is much to see and do here, with many of the attractions constructed in the Middle Ages. Well worth seeing are the Trading Domes, built in the 16th century. Trade was very popular in Bukhara during this time, and the dynasty of the Sheibanids built these domes. Each was named for the type of merchandise that was sold beneath its roof.

The Kalian Minaret should also be on your list of places to visit. This structure was built in 1127, and many think of it as the symbol of the city. The first one collapsed and was rebuilt of burnt brick and plaster mixed with camel’s milk. Necessary repairs have changed the structure very little in the eight centuries it has been standing. It’s hollow on the inside, and has a foot bridge that allows you to go up inside of the tower.

The Ismoil Samoniy mausoleum is a historical monument that was built during the time that the Samanids dynasty ruled the city, from around 892 until 907. It was originally meant to be a grave for the patriarch of the family, but in time became the final resting place of all the Samanids.

The Ark Citadel is not just a fortress. It was the residence of the rulers of Bukhara. Inside its walls were many of the structures needed in order to rule the city — palaces and temples, offices, barracks, stables, warehouses, workshops, a mint for making money, an arsenal, and a prison, too! It was destroyed and rebuilt many times during the centuries it has been standing. Today, there is a museum on the inside.

Samarkand is the second largest city in Uzbekistan, and it is more than 25 centuries old. There is a wide range of ancient monuments in Samarkand, and the architecture is absolutely gorgeous! Both the interior and the exterior of many buildings are beautifully decorated with glazed brick, mosaic tiles, and intricately carved marble. Registan Square is the center of the city, and is resplendent with this decorative Islamic art form.

You must also see the Mausoleum of Tamerlane, with its intricate mosaics and its world famous cantaloupe-shaped dome of blue. The conqueror Tamerlane is at rest here beneath a huge slab of jade that is more than likely the largest jade stone in the world.

Located in Kyrgyzstan, Issyk Kul, which means ‘hot lake’ is the second highest navigable lake in the world, and a popular spot for those who enjoy Central Asia travel. Due to the winds, climate, and probably some sort of thermal activity, this lake never freezes, even in the cold of winter. Surrounded by the snow capped Tien Shan mountains, this beautiful, sparkling clear blue lake has resorts and hotels located on its North side, and sandy beaches for all to enjoy.

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