Uzbekistan is renowned as one of Central Asia’s most culturally rich destinations, with ancient cities, spellbinding architecture and a compelling history. Created by travel photographer Christopher Wilton-Steer, a new project on the Silk Road has been announced that includes documentation of the striking beauty of the nation’s palaces and mosques.

Christopher’s work has taken him to remote locations across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He travelled to Uzbekistan as part of a four-month, 40,000km overland journey from London to Beijing that crossed 15 countries for a photography project. The project "aims to share the wonders of the Silk Road with broader audiences, celebrate the diversity of cultural expressions, highlight examples of how historical practices, rituals and customs live on today, and also reveal some of the connections between what appear at first glance to be very different cultures. It also aims to help build bridges of interest and understanding between distant cultures and challenge perceptions of less well known and understood parts of the world,” Christopher told Lonely Planet.

The Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Samarkand
The Bibi-Khanym Mosque in Samarkand © Christopher Wilton-Steer

Also called the Silk Route, the ancient trade route linked China with parts of Europe and Africa, and carried goods through Rome. Uzbekistan was at the heart of the route and benefitted greatly from it. Extravagant architectural gems were built during the Timurid dynasty, from the 1400s-1600s, including colourful mausoleums, monuments, palaces, mosques, domes, and bazaars, some of which Christopher was able to document.

Ceiling details from the Guri Amir Mausoleum, Samarkand
Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum in Samarkand © Christopher Wilton-Steer

“I was particularly interested in the way the Timurids, and in some cases, those before them) covered their monuments head to toe in geometric tile work. These shapes look like a bit like QR codes but are actually forms of Kufic calligraphy that repeat [divine words]. They are several hundred years old but look so modern like they were designed yesterday,” Christopher said.

Ceiling details from the Shah-i-Zinda tomb complex, Samarkand
The Shah-i-Zinda tomb complex ceiling © Christopher Wilton-Steer

The photos will form part of an exhibition about the Silk Road in partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation. More of Christopher’s work is available at his official website, as well as on Instagram.

Read more:

A must-visit list of incredible Silk Road sights in Uzbekistan
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