Attractions

Plaza in Samarkand

The Registan

This ensemble of majestic, tilting medressas – a near-overload of majolica, azure mosaics and vast, well-proportioned spaces – is the centrepiece of the city, and arguably the most awesome single sight in Central As…
Top Choice Fortress in Bukhara

Ark

The spectacular-looking Ark, a royal town-within-a-town, is Bukhara’s oldest structure, occupied from the 5th century right up until 1920, when it was bombed by the Red Army. It’s about 80% ruins inside now, except …
Mausoleum in Samarkand

Gur-E-Amir Mausoleum & Around

Timur, along with two sons and two grandsons (including Ulugbek), lies beneath the surprisingly modest Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum and its trademark fluted azure dome.Timur had built a simple crypt for himself at Shakhrisa…
Cemetery in Samarkand

Shah-i-Zinda

Samarkand’s most moving and beloved site is this stunning avenue of mausoleums, which contains some of the richest tilework in the Muslim world. The name, which means ‘Tomb of the Living King’, refers to its origina…
Mosque in Samarkand

Bibi-Khanym Mosque

The enormous congregational Bibi-Khanym Mosque, northeast of the Registan, was finished shortly before Timur’s death and must have been the jewel of his empire. Once one of the Islamic world’s biggest mosques (the c…
Top Choice Museum in Bukhara

Maghoki-Attar & Museum of Carpets

Between the two covered bazaars, in what was the old herb-and-spice bazaar, is Central Asia’s oldest surviving mosque, the Maghoki-Attar, a lovely mishmash of 9th-century facade and 16th-century reconstruction.This …
Islamic Site in Bukhara

Kalon Minaret

When it was built by the Karakhanid ruler Arslan Khan in 1127, the Kalon Minaret was probably the tallest building in Central Asia – kalon means ‘great’ in Tajik. It’s an incredible piece of work, 47m tall with 10m-…
Top Choice Historic Building in Bukhara

Char Minar

Photogenic little Char Minar, in a maze of alleys between Pushkin and Hoja Nurabad, bears more relation to Indian styles than to anything Bukharan. This was the gatehouse of a long-gone medressa built in 1807. The n…
Top Choice Mosque in Bukhara

Kalon Mosque

At the foot of the minaret, on the site of an earlier mosque destroyed by Chinggis Khan, is the 16th-century congregational Kalon Mosque, big enough for 10,000 people. Its courtyard has some spectacular tile work. U…
Ruins in Shakhrisabz

Ak-Saray Palace

Just north of the centre, Timur’s summer palace has as much grandeur per square centimetre as anything in Samarkand. There’s actually nothing left of it except bits of the gigantic, 38m-high pishtak, covered with go…