Bukhara is a city museum in Uzbekistan and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. The city can be traced back to as early as the 6th century BC, rising to prominence to become a major trade and cultural centre on the Silk Road. The city was a Muslim centre, and there are numerous mosques and madrassas in the city that attest to its religious significance. There are nearly 150 historical monuments preserved in the city in a modern day Uzbekistan. Monuments include mosques, madrassas, mausoleums, and minarets. The city has increasingly become a tourist destination and has influenced the proliferation of bazaars, restaurants and hotel facilities in the city. By the decision of UNESCO Bukhara was included on the list of the world's most impressive scientific and cultural treasures. "Bukhara-i-Sharif" or "Noble Bukhara" is the name given to Bukhara in the Muslim East.
Bukhara is one of the most ancient cities of Uzbekistan, situated on a sacred hill. It is one of few cities appeared and developed at one the same place beginning from the 5th century BC. This city was remained in a holy book "Avesto". The name of Bukhara originates from the word "viraha" which means "monastery" in Sanscrit. This is the only city in Central Asia where the unique historical atmosphere is remained in whole. Bukhara is a museum-city: more than 140 architectural monuments of world significance constructed in different centuries, have been preserved in Bukhara up to date. Its ancient walls store the memories of 25 centuries' history, the rain of various rulers both successful and unsuccessful.
This unique Bukhara has been restored once again into a fertile oasis and scientific and cultural centre on the Great Silk Road. Trade cupolas constructed during 15th—16th centuries - Toki-Sarrafon (cupola of moneychangers), Toki-Telpak-Furushon (cupola of headdress sellers), Toki-Zargaron (cupola of jewelers) are a good testimony of Bukhara location just on the caravan crossroads.
Many scientists and philosophers were from Bukhara. It was here that the great Sheikh Bohouddin Nakshbandi lived. He was a central figure in the development of the mystical Sufi approach to philosophy, religion and Islam. The scientific center for studying the heritage of Bohouddin Nakshbandi operates here.
Main part of Bukhara's center is so called "architectural area": a lot of former madrassahs are located here including Madrassah Chor-Minor and citadel Ark, Madrassah Ulugbek and Kukeldash. Walking along the narrow and shady streets, one can reach Poi-Kalyan Square with the Kalyan Minaret in the center. Built in 1127, even today it is known as the "Great Minaret" with its ingenious engineering construction reaching 47 meters into the sky.
...The numerous palaces, mosques, mausoleums and minarets are unsurpassed in their beauty making the ancient city of Bukhara unforgettable in its history and splendour.
Must see places in Bukhara
High citadel Ark, strengthened with walls, was the centre of the city, showing the military power of the ruler. The palace, treasury and prison were located just here too. Buildings preserved today in the Ark, were constructed at the end of the 18th — beginning of the 20th centuries.
Today the Ark Citadel is a big earthen platform stretched from west to east. A lot of buildings are located inside the Ark Citadel. Presently, the eastern part of the Ark represents the archaeological monument. Childukhtaron Mosque is still preserved here accommodating now the historical museum.
It was built more than 1 000 years ago undergoing great reconstructions from that time. Varakhsha Palace delights by its huge sizes and picturesque frescos. Walls surrounded the courtyard were beautifully decorated. Main accommodations of the palace were constructed on the platform rising up the other buildings of shakhristan. Palace is located outside Bukhara.
Ismail Samani Mausoleum
A masterpiece of the 9th and 10th centuries is the burial vault of the Samanids ordered by Ismail, a powerful representative of this dynasty. The ruler himself, his father and grandson are buried here. The Samanids' Mausoleum was built of individually made baked bricks, the intricate brickwork looks like lace.
The four-towered entrance preserved to date is especially majestic giving the complex its name — Chor-Minor (Four Minarets). It was constructed at the beginning of the 19th century by order of the rich merchant, Turkmen Khalif Niyazkul, a traveler and carpet and horse seller. It stands by itself and as a beautiful pearl, shining in the sunlight under a perfect blue sky. It is truly unique, a philosophical monument that has no match in the architecture of Central Asia.
The Kalyan Minaret known as the Great Minaret is famous for its 48-meter tower reaching into the blue sky. This is a unique engineering construction comes deep to the ground. The building was constructed with a burnt brick and guanch solution. On top the minaret is finished with a cupola provided with 16 openings, where from the mullah called the people to pray. New minaret is constructed completely of the burnt bricks.
History of Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum is linked with the legend according to which the well of the biblical prophet Iov-Ayub, passing by the waterless area of Bukhara, stroke the staff and then here it was appeared a well with a very clean and healthy water. Building preserving up today, was constructed in the 80ties of the 15th century. Khorezmian masters brought by Temur worked here giving to Bukhara attractive view. At present, museum of water and movable carpet exhibition are located here.
It is the only building remained in Bukhara in memory of the great astronomer Mirzo Ulugbek. Medressah Ulugbek is a rectangular building with a courtyard and front door decorated with a high portal. The astral elements predominate Ulugbek's life philosophy: "Pursuit of knowledge is the duty of each follower of Islam, man and woman".
It was built in the first part of the 15th century. The mosque is one of the unique and biggest in Central Asia after Bibi-Khanum (Samarkand). The main entrance is finished with a big portal decorated by mosaic. The rectangular courtyard is surrounded by galleries including 288 cupolas based on 208 pillars. Occupied territory is one hectare.
Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Complex (end of the 19th — beginning of the 20th centuries) is one of the best Bukharan palaces. It is a must for tourists. The complex consists of two adjacent buildings located in the suburbs of the city. A new palace was built in 1912—1913 and boasts exceptional artistic value. The hall is decorated with the exquisite ornamental paintings and the walls are covered with mirrors. Today, a branch of the Bukhara Ethnography Museum is located here.
Bakhauddin Nakshbandi Complex (17 c.)
Sheikh Bakhauddin Nakshbandi was a cleric teacher of Amir Temur. Worship of the sheikh's sacred grave was equated with the Hadj to Mecca. In the 80ties, the complex was completely renovated and now it includes the separate courtyard with a khauz, the beautifully decorated mosques Kushbegi and Muzafarkhona, a minaret, small medressah and the burial vault of the Bukharan rulers as well.
Namazgokh Mosque (12th c.)
It was constructed outside Bukhara and the people from all the city and suburb were gathered to pray. From that time it has been changed a little bit.
Medressah Modari-khan (17th c.)
It was built by Abdulla-khan II in honour of his mother. The main facade of medressah was beautifully decorated by many-coloured brick mosaic making different geometrical designs. All the design looks very modestly.
Baland Mosque (16th c.)
Baland means "tall". Name of the mosque comes from the place of its location on the high stone base ground. This is a typical sample of the Ghuzar mosques. Mosque is very attractive because of its beautifully decorated interior.
Seifeddin Bokharzi Mausoleum
It was built above the grave of popular Central Asian mystic. Has a huge size but simple decoration. The building has a complicated plan of construction: the burial vault — gurkhona, prayer's room — ziaratkhona covered with small and big-sized cupolas. There is no decoration anywhere. The only beautifully decorated element is a splendid wooden gravestone of the 14th century established in gurkhana.
Medressah Nadira Divan-Begi
Primary it was built as a caravan-saray, being transformed to medressah in 1630. The two birds of phoenix facing a symbolic sun above the portal lead into the medreassah with its many small shops where arts and crafts are displayed. A dinner and show program with folk dance accompanied by traditional instrument and contemporary fashion is held under the stars in the courtyard.
Bordering the Lyabi-khauz square, this medressah is among the biggest and most monumental in Central Asia, with 160 hujras as well as a splendid example of "white interior". The entrance gate is of particular interest, inlay and fixtures are devoid of glue or nails and covered with heraldic ornaments.
Located just opposite the Kalyan Mosque. The main façade in the centre is finished with a portal adjoining the two-tiered loggias. In the centre of gurkhona (the burial vault) the wooden tombstone of Ubaidulla-khan is installed. Medressah is beautifully decorated with the covered mosaic. At present, the theological seminary is opened in this medressah.
The Lyabi-khauz Ensemble, bearing the same name as the khauz dug on the same site in 1620, is a majestic architectural ensemble in the centre of the city connecting the beautiful architectural monuments of the Kukeldash Khanaka and Nadira Divan-Begi medressah.