As a key city on the Silk Road, Samarkand has many historical monuments, and surprisingly few tourists. It sits at the crossroads to China, India, and Persia, and was probably founded in the 5th century BC. No really old stuff remains because Jenghiz Khan obliterated the city in 1220. There are many spectacular domes and minarets dotting the landscape of the centre of the city. However, I was disappointed (in fact I felt slightly cheated) to realise these are all heavily restored. Photos of these monuments taken in the 1930s show near ruins.

View of Samarkand from the original city, Afrosiab

We spent the first two nights in a modern hotel, and then moved to a more homely courtyard B&B, complete with wall hangings in the rooms, and fig, mulberry, apricot, and cherry trees in the courtyard. Fruit from the trees is served at breakfast. Last night we ate in a 19th century residence that was in the process of being lightly restored. Other B&B guests with us were Swiss, French, Belgian, Dutch, and Uzbek. Most of the conversation was in French.

Inside our B&B

Today we cycled out to the old town at 05:00 to miss the heat of the day, back for breakfast at 08:00, then errands. We stop in the heat of the day and reappear at 17:00 when the temperature in the shade of the courtyard is down to 32 Celsius. Tomorrow we leave at 04:00.


2 responses to “Samarkand

  1. Darn soviets, always rebuilding for the benefit of the people.

  2. Beautiful sites even if they are reconstructions, as long as they are reasonably accurate. The scale of these monuments is certainly impressive.

    Outside of historical monuments, what is Samarkand like now? Agricultural centre?
    Any industry? Decaying relics of the USSR? New Uzbek construction?

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