Bukhara is the city, which has been growing constantly at one and the same place since 5th century BC. Bukhara preserved treasures of architecture of the pre-Mongol period. The total number of monuments is above 400. Bukhara is regarded to be the largest museum in the open of Central Asia.
"Bukhara-I-Sharif" - "Noble Bukhara" or "Holy Bukhara" is one of the numerous epithets that were bestowed on this ancient city.
The name of Bukhara originates from "vikhara" - Sanskrit word for monastery. It is said to have had the best of monastic establishments during its Buddhist days.
Narshaki wrote "The History of Bukhara" in the 10th century. It gave rise to a legend, which names Siavush to be the founder of Bukhara. Siavush, a son of a Persian Shah murdered by Afrosiab, a king of Turan, was worshipped in antiquity as a god.
Archaeological researches testify that it existed already in the 5th millennium BC, when the tribes of hunters and fishermen came to live in the lower reaches of the Zerafshan river.
In later history, the territory of Bukhara was the part of Achaemenid Persia, Alexander the Great Empire, the Seleucid domain, the Greek-Bactrian kingdom, the Kushan empire and the Ephtalites state, the Turkic kaganate, the Arabic caliphate, the empires of Genghis Khan and Timurids, the Shaybanid state.
The much known history of Bukhara begins with the arrival of Arabs in the 8th century AD. After the settling of Arabs and subsequent conversion of its indigenous population to Islam Bukhara took a new turn when the local dynasties were established. During the rule of Samanids in the 9th century it was the best time for Bukhara. This was the time when great scholars like Avicenna, Al-Beruni and Narshaki contributed to the development of sciences and literature. Later Bukhara fell to the Karakhanids and then to the rule of Khorezmshahs that is regarded as the era of great merits in arts and crafts.
During the invasion of Genghis Khan's Mongol hordes the city was greatly destroyed and all aspects of life were disturbed for a long time. It was only during the later Genghisids and the Timurid dynasty that the city once again rose to its prominence. After a long series of wars and battles between the later Timurids in the 16th century it became the centre of reign of the Shaybanids, which lasted for a century.
Under the Astrakhanid dynasty (17th century), the Silk Road's decline slowly pushed Bukhara out of the mainstream.
In 1740 the Persian King Nadir Shah conquered Bukhara. He appointed a local lord Muhammad Rahim as a governor in Bukhara. The governor proclaimed himself emir and founded the dynasty of Mangits. It was the darkest period in the history of Bukhara. The former centre of culture and education became the one of tyranny, fanaticism and hypocrisy. The constant decay in ruling and economic systems of Bukhara invited once again the foreign dominance with the result that in 60-70s of the 19th century Russia conquered Bukhara. Emir's army was weak and was not able to stand against the Russians. In 1868 the army of Bukhara was defeated. Due to emir's desire, a peaceful treaty was signed, and Bukhara Khanate became the vassal of Tsarist Russia.
In 1920 Red Army troops captured Bukhara and the last emir had to run for his life's sake to the neighbouring Afghanistan.
The Bukhara People's Republic was proclaimed and it was absorbed in 1924 into the newly created Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic.
SIGHTSEEING AND EXCURSION
Bukhara City tour 01-Half-day
The Ark Citadel. This Royal town-within-a-town is the home of the rulers of Bukhara for over a millennium. The Ark is as old as Bukhara itself. The fortress was the focus around which the medieval town developed.
Bolo-Khauz Mosque (1712), opposite the Ark, it was the emir's official place of worship. The painted porch, supported by 20 columns was added in 1917.
The architectural ensemble of Poi-Kalon (Pedestal of the Great), the religious heart of Holy Bukhara, consists of the Kalon Minaret, Kalon Mosque and Mir-i-Arab Madrasah.
The Kalon Minaret (1127) is one of the defining symbols of Bukhara. The minaret is 9 metres in diameter at the foundation and grows slightly narrower at its 46-metre height. The minaret is exquisite not only in its magnificence but also for ornamental brickwork.
The Kalon Mosque is the biggest Friday mosque in Bukhara for 10.000 people, built in the 16th century on the site of an earlier mosque destroyed by Genghis Khan.
The Mir-I-Arab Madrasah (16th century) was built by Ubaidullah Khan (Shaybanid ruler) and named for a 16th century well-known Sheikh Abdulla Jemeny. It was Central Asia's only functioning madrasah in Soviet times and the most prestigious educational establishment for centuries.
Covered Bazaars (city's trading cupolas - of the 15-16th centuries) were among dozens of specialised bazaars in the town built at the junction of caravan routes. Four major cupolas of the building of merchants have survived in Bukhara. Toki-Sarafon (cupola of moneychangers), Toki-Telpak Furushon (cupola of the hat sellers), Toki-Zargaron (cupola of jewellers), Abdullakhan Tim (a centre of silk sales).
The Ulugbek Madrasah (1417) is one of the three madrasahs built in Uzbekistan by Timur's grandson Ulugbek. Everything in it is characteristic of Ulugbek architecture: clarity of the design, excellent proportions and understated decorative details.
The Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasah is located opposite the Ulugbek Madrasah. The Astrakhanid Ruler of the same name began its construction in 1652, but the decoration left unfinished when he was driven away by the first of the Mangit emirs.
Magoki-Attori Mosque (12-16th centuries) is one of the last remnants of a symbolic architecture of various periods and religions. Its cupolas are slightly above the level of ground because the building is deeply stuck in the centuries - old cultural layers. Under this mosque archaeologists found the bits of the 5th century Zoroastrian temple wrecked by the Arabs, and an earlier Buddhist temple.
Lyabi-Khauz Ensemble is the heart of Bukhara. Lyabi-Khauz Ensemble shows that the Bukharan architectural traditions remain alive. A high-ranking official named Nadir Divan-Begi built it in 1620 and some parts of it are still well preserved - Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah (1622), Nadir Divan-Begi Khonako (1620) and Kukeldash Madrasah (1568-1569).
Bukhara City tour 02 – Half-day
Samanid's Mausoleum (the family tomb of the Samanid Dynasty from the end of the 9th - beginning of the 10th century) is a pearl of the Eastern architecture with traces of Sogdian culture. It is one of the first monuments on the territory of Central Asia built of fired brick.
Chashma-I-Ayub (the Spring of Biblical Job) Mausoleum was built in the 12th century over a spring. Legend says Job struck his staff on the ground here and a spring appeared. Its middle domes were added in the 14th century, the front one in the 16th century.
Chor Minor (Four minarets) is a monument of later period, built in 1807. Its four-domed minarets bear features of Indian style because it was built by order of Indian merchant.
Bukhara City tour 03 – Half-day
Faizabad Khonako (1598-1599) is a dervish hostel with hujra sells on several floors. It follows the established design of khonako.
Saifuddin Bukharzi Mausoleum was built over the grave of a local poet and holy man Saif-at-din (1190-1262). Prayer hall was added in the 14th century and portico was completed in the 15th century.
Buyan Kuli Khan Mausoleum (1358) is smaller in size but has very nice floral and calligraphic ornamentation on the portal. It honours a Mongol nobleman and descendent of Genghis Khan.
House of Fayzullah Khodjayev or Museum of the Daily Life of a Bukharan Merchant. Faysullah Khodjayev, the first president of Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic from 1924 till 1938, was the son of a merchant who was the fourth of the six richest in Khanate. Later it was an excuse for Stalin to condemn Khodjayev to death. His father built the House at the end of the 19th century in traditional style and it comprises male and female courtyards.
Around Bukhara tour 04 - Half-day
Sitora-I-Mokhi-Khosa (Palace of Moon and Stars) is a summer palace (built by Russian architect in 1911) of Amir Alimkhan - the last ruler of Bukhara. The architecture of the building combines European and Central Asian styles. Now it is a museum with the good collection of items of that time. The entrance to the main exhibits opens with White Hall, the reception hall of the former Emir, decorated with excellent stucco carving on mirror background. Other halls of the palace are also worth seeing.
Bakhauddin Nakshbandi Ensemble is 12 km from Bukhara. Bakhauddin Nakshbandi (1318-1389) was the founder of the biggest Sufi order “Nakshbandiya”. His grave was considered to be the main holy place of Bukhara and Khodja Bakhauddin Nakshbandi was the patron of the city. It was believed that three pilgrimages to his tomb were equal in significance to the pilgrimage to a far sacred Kaaba stone in Mecca.
Around Bukhara tour 05 - Half-day
Chor Bakr Necropolis appeared in the 10th century after four brothers – Said Abu Bakr, Fazl, Ahmed and Hamed were buried in a village Sumitan, 7 km from Bukhara. In the 16th century Abdullah Khan commissioned the Khonako, mosque and madrasah to this cemetery. Now it is a big necropolis where hundreds of family members of both the khan and the dynasty of Juybar sheikhs had been buried in streets of tombs and it is considered to be one of the holiest places around Bukhara.
Uzbekistan Airways operates flights from Tashkent on Mon, Tue, Thu and Sat (by IL-114), on Wed and Fri (by A-310) and on Sat (by B-757, flying time: 1:05 hrs).
Urgench (Khiva) on Sunday nights to cater for tourism during high season only (Apr-Oct), 2 flights, 10mins apart at 21:00 and 21:10. Flying time approx 45mins. Both flights then continue to Tashkent.
Train station is about 10km outside of Bukhara. Trains run from both Samarkand and Tashkent regularly. There are two daily trains between connecting Tashkent with Bukhara via Samarkand.
Daytime express train linking Tashkent and Bukhara in just six and a half hour. Tashkent dep. 8:15 - Samarkand dep. 12:00 - Bukhara arr. 14:45
Slower overnight train with sleeping wagons. Tashkent dep. 21:10, Bukhara arr. 06:55
Bukhara is 560 km from Tashkent, 270 km from Samarkand, 470 km form Khiva, 900 km from Fergana, 160 km from Karshi, 560 km from Nukus, 280 km from Shahrisabz, and 380 km from Termez.
Hammam Borzi Kord, Taqi-Telpak Furushon. Open for local men until 2PM then for tourists of mixed gender until midnight. one of Bukhara's most famous hamam (baths) including scrub and massage.
Hammom Kunjak, the women's bathhose, near Kalon Minaret.
Folklore and Fashion Show, Nadir Divanbegi Medressa. show with traditional music and dancing
Street markets and trade domes in Old Town.
Tim Abdulla Khan, silk and carpets
Original Bukhara Scissors
Pichok, knives with slightly curved handles made of bone with blades forged and then hammered with Bukharan skylines, birds, or stars.
Karakol, newborn or fetal wool from the Karakol lamb, used in scarves, vests, coats and hats.
Spices! Cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, saffron, and cloves are favorites.
Illustrated manuscripts called “miniatures”, lacquer boxes, gourds.
Antique and new suzanis, which are embroidered hangings and wall covers.
Tubeteika caps with square peaks that can be folded, the patterns varying region to region.
Woven ikat fabrics, brightly colored clothing like the locals wear, flowers, and household items. Dresses made of traditional Uzbek fabrics are also popular including Bukharan silk/velvet, silk/cotton, and silk/satin combinations.
Silver jewelry, headbands, rings, necklaces, and more. Many are embedded with semi-precious stones.
• Minzifa. Terrace restaurant near Lyabi Hauz in Old Town.
• Doston House. Uzbek guesthouse situated in the old part of Bukhara
• Adras, European and Uzbek dishes (100 meters from Lyabi Hauz).
• Caravan, European and Uigur dishes
• Guest House of Rustam Saidjanov, (100 meters from Lyabi Hauz).
• Lyabi Hauz cafes, with traditional and european meals.
• The Old House (Chaykhana) ,near Lyabi Hauz, with traditional and european meals.
• The Old Bukhara ,near Lyabi Hauz, with traditional and european meals.
• Ismoil restaurant in the new part of Bukhara
See: Hotels in Bukhara
Bukhara has an airport. There is a train station about 10km outside of Bukhara.
Some photos of Bukhara
Chor Minor Madrassa
Sitora-I-Mokhi-Khosa summer palace
Lyabi House cafes
Folklore and Fashion Show, Nadir Divanbegi Medressa
Bukhara old town map