Bukhara… Who hasn’t heard of the city museum with a history that is lost in the hoary past. Samarkand is the beauty of the earth, but Bukhara is the beauty of the spirit. In Sanskrit word, Bukhara signifies “monastery” and this city was once a big commercial center on the Great Silk Road.
Bukhara, with more than 140 architectural monuments, is a “town museum” dating back to the Middle Ages. 2300 years later, ensembles like the Poi-Kalon, Kosh-madrassah, Ismail Samani mausoleum and the Kalon minaret attract a lot of attention.
This Central Asia’s holiest city has buildings spanning a thousand years of history, and a thoroughly lived-in old center that probably hasn’t changed much in two centuries. Bukhara also has many architectural monuments of remarkable beauty (about 140), which are justifiably famous and attract many tourists. Bukhara is truly historic and bears the imprint of a thousand-year old history and the significant stages of the development of Central Asian architecture. Every monument there silently keeps the secrets of a remote past. This wonderful city is many centuries of age.
Bukhara was at the crossroads of the major international trade and economic routes of the past, primarily the Great Silk Road. Extensive trade links facilitated the growth of the city itself and of the transit regions.
Bukhara deserves its name of “an abode of glory, Caaba of domination and an assembly of outstanding people”. The grace and uniqueness of ancient Bukhara is stamped on its inimitable architectural monuments.
Over many centuries Bukhara has occupied a leading place among the other cities of Turkistan. That was a time when craft, trade, building technology, sciences, literature and art were all developing. Renowned poets of the Middle Ages, Firdousi and Rudaki, the world-famous encyclopedic scientists Abu Ali ibn Sina and other outstanding people lived and worked there. Bukhara had a special place in the Muslim world. The city has many cultural monument, that’s why it can be called a city-museum. Time elapsed and has left its ruinous imprints on some of the monuments of the city. But even today, the art of ancient architects provokes our admiration.
Silk embroidery and seal weaving are traditional in Bukhara. Goods made by local masters, such as embroidered wall panels, clothing for women, silk belts and skull caps, are known far outside the Republic and can be acquired in many countries of the world.
The 20th century saw a new modern city built close to the ancient one. There were many bazaars in ancient Bukhara, and one of them, Labi-Hauz bazaar (16-17 centuries) has been preserved up to this day.
Boasting a different mosque for every day of the year, drawing the finest minds of the East with its cultural and commercial vitality, the city well deserved the title “Bukhara the Holy”.
Architectural attractions of Bukhara:
• Ismail Smani mausoleum – the oldest monument of Bukhara. A wonderful monument of the Muslim Orient has withstood hundreds of centuries. It embodies the most outstanding achievements of the early Middle Ages. Despite its simple composition, it displays an amazing variety of architectural techniques and can be called a pearl of the East.
• The Ark fortress – this royal town-within-a-town is Bukhara’s oldest structure, occupied from the 5th century right up until 1920. Most interesting is in between – Bukhara’s history from the Shaibanids to the tsars. Among items to look for are the huge snakeskin “Whip of Rustam” that once hung above the Ark’s entrance; 9 kg royal robe, padded to make the emir look big; and a surprisingly negative, Soviet-style exhibit on Islam.
• Kalyan minaret – Bukhara can not be imagined without its monumental minaret, the Kalyan. Built more than 900 years ago, it has a special place in Bukhara for it is the tallest of all architectural monuments of Central Asia. Sometimes it is called a minaret or a “tower of death”, because, according to legends, criminals and unfaithful wives were thrown down from it.
• Chor Minor was constructed as a copy of design of Tadj-Mahal in India. This madrassah was located in the center of the Great Silk Road for travelers to stay there and the architectural forms showed contemporaries throughout the world and future generations that all people are equal, with one sky overhead and one earth underfoot. The four-towered entrance preserved to date is especially majestic, giving the complex its name – Chor Minor (Four Minarets).
• Lyabi – Haus (XVI – XVII c) – a complex with Nodir – Devon Begi madrasahs big pool surrended by trees
• Tim Abdullakhan was built in 1577 and was one of the most elegant trade halls in Bukhara where silk and wool was sold by Afghan trades.
• Trading Domes consists of three trading centers: Tok-i-Zargaron (1570) – Jeweler’s Bazaar, Tok-i-Tilpak Furushon – Cap Maker’s Bazaar, Tok-i-Sarrafon – Moneychanger’s Bazaar.
• Magoki Attori – in 937 the four-pillared mosque was burn the ground in a city-wide fire and in the 12th century the present mosque was erected, from which the focus of the mosque, the original southern portal remains.
• Ulugbek Madrassah 1417 was the earliest of three commissioned by the enlightened Timutid ruler (the other two stand in Samarkand and Gijduvan) and his secular influence dominates the exterior design of the religious college.
• Abdul Aziz Khan Madrassah (1652), glittering in mercifully unrestored 17th century glory
• Bolo Khauz Mosque (1712) Mosque Near the Pool.
• Chashma Ayub Mausoleum – the original construction dates from the 12th century rule of Karakhanid Arslan Khan, the earliest surviving dome was raised by Amir Temur in 1380 over the existing tomb chamber.
• Sitorai-Mohi Hosa. One can not fail to mention the beautiful summer palace, Sitorai Mokhi Hosa, which were constructed in the 19 and beginning of the 20th centuries. The remarkable skills of local and visiting European masters were combined for the construction of this palace.
• Nakshbandy complex – the holiest ensemble in Bukhara is a place of shrines, stories and superstitions. A complex built in a birthplace of Bakhauddin Nakshbandiy (1318-1389) founder of Islamic “sofi” way and one of the holiest saints.
• Chor Bakr. This haunting 16th century necropolis or “town” of mausoleums was built in Sheybanids time, but nobody knows for whom.