Lyab-i Hauz, Bukhara, Uzbekistan.

© Poliorketes/Shutterstock



Lyabi-Hauz, a plaza built around a pool in 1620 (the name is Tajik for ‘around the pool’), is the most peaceful and interesting spot in town – shaded by mulberry trees as old as the pool. The old tea-sipping, chessboard-clutching Uzbek men who once inhabited this corner of town have been moved on by local entrepreneurs bent on cashing in on the tourist trade. Still, the plaza maintains its old-world style despite the evening pop music and family funfair feel.

Until a century ago Bukhara was watered by a network of canals and 200 stone pools (hauz) where people gathered and gossiped, drank and washed. As the water wasn’t changed often, Bukhara was famous for plagues and water-borne diseases; the average 19th-century Bukharan is said to have died by the age of 32. The Bolsheviks modernised the system and drained most of the pools but several, like the Lyabi-Hauz, remain.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bukhara attractions

1. Puppet Museum

0.03 MILES

The displays here on the history and manufacture of Bukhara's famous puppets are worth a quick visit, especially if you have kids in tow.

2. Hoja Nasruddin

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On the eastern side of Lyabi-Hauz is a statue of Hoja Nasruddin, a semi-mythical ‘wise fool’ who appears in Sufi teaching-tales around the world.

3. Nadir Divanbegi Khanaka

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On the western side of the Lyabi-Hauz is the Nadir Divanbegi Khanaka, a Sufi cloister used for religious ceremonies, debates and instruction. Both this…

4. Jewish Community Centre & Synagogue

0.06 MILES

Bukhara's main synagogue is in the old town. It holds regular services and also sponsors a functioning Jewish school just around the corner. Look for the…

5. Nadir Divanbegi Medressa

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The Nadir Divanbegi Medressa was built as a caravanserai, but was converted in 1622 after the khan mistook it for a medressa (the khan was considered…

6. Kukeldash Medressa

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The Kukeldash Medressa, built in 1569 by Abdullah II, was at the time the biggest Islamic school in Central Asia. It now hosts the occasional evening…

7. Taki-Sarrafon


The Moneychangers' Bazaar is a typically domed bazaar straddling one of Bukhara's main street junctions. It contains several souvenir stalls and a…

8. Maghok-i-Attar

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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…