Uzbekistan is a place where you will be warmly welcomed which is beyond your expectation because there is something special for everyone when they visit Central Asia’s most populous country. It is among the one of only two double landlocked countries in the world, surrounded by Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
The country spent most of the past 200 years as part of Russia, and then the Soviet Union, before emerging as an independent nation in 1991. Uzbekistan has sought to increase awareness to its tourism potential, boasting archaeological sites and natural treasures. The Oasis towns like Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva were once main points of great Silk Road linking the Eastern & Western civilizations. These towns are among the oldest in the world with ancient mosques, the most colorful bazaars, highly-adorned mausoleums and century’s old traditions.
Surrounded by the vast expanses of the Kyzyl Kum desert, Bukhara was one of the great trading centers located on the crossroads of the Great Silk Road. And it still keeps the atmosphere of an ancient Silk Road city. Bukhara used to be a centre of learning renowned throughout the Islamic world. Bukhara is also the hometown of the great Sheikh Bakhauddin Naqshbandi, who was a central figure in the development of the mystical Sufi approach to philosophy, religion and Islam. Bukhara used to have more than 350 mosques and 100 religious colleges.
Bukhara with the narrow, twisting streets of its old quarter, is full of architectural gems. Amongst 140 major monuments the worth places for visiting being the centre of historical Bukhara – Shakristan which contains the Ark, a massive fortress palace, home to the Emirs of Bukhara for over a millennium dated to 6-9 centuries. The fortress covers 35 thousand sq meters and includes the jewellery workshop, Visir’s office (minister), prison, warehouses, mosque and Harem.
Khiva is ancient Chorasmia and later known as Khwarizm and Khorezm. It is formerly a large Khanate (kingdom) of West Central Asia. Located south of the Aral Sea and is now part of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The ancient city Khiva is located in Uzbekistan and is famous for its many historic buildings which are preserved as a museum like walled city. Khiva is most intact of the ancient cities of Uzbekistan. Most of its historical buildings are of 19th century creation, and because of the excellent condition of its architecture, Khiva gives an excellent idea of what other cities of Central Asia may have been like before.
Khiva is split into two parts. The outer town, called Dichan Kala, was formerly protected by a wall with 11 gates. The inner town, or Ichan-Qala, is encircled by brick walls, whose foundations are believed to have been laid in the 10th century. Present-day crenellated walls date back to the late 17th century and attain the height of 10 meters.
The old town retains more than 50 historic monuments and 250 old houses, mostly dating from the 18th or the 19th centuries. Djuma Mosque, for instance, was established in the 10th century and rebuilt in 1788-89, although its celebrated hypostyle hall still retains 112 columns taken from ancient structures.
Samarkand, one of the ancient cities in the world, contemporary of Rome, Athens and Babylon, recently celebrated it’s 2750 year anniversary. It has been called “The Radiant Point of Globe”, “The Jewel of Islam”, and “The Mirror of the World”, among others, since earliest times.
2300 years ago Alexander the Great approached the city walls with his invincible iron phalanx and was amazed at the beauty of its buildings and the size of its fortress. When he first time saw Samarkand, he exclaimed “ I heard that the city was beautiful but never thought that it could be so beautiful and majestic”. He had to seize the city several times. Still, his rule had only become stable here when he established family connections with locals (he married a girl from local aristocracy.)
It took one and a half century for the city to revive, first as the capital of the Great Tamerlane, Shaker of the Universe, then as the glorious cultural and scientific center of the medieval Now Samarkand is a place where the unique spirit of the antiquity is carefully preserved. The peculiar combination of its splendid monuments and surprising richness of the cultural tradition is strongly felt by newcomers.
Amir Temur made his great contributions in the formation of a state system, as well as the progress of science and culture.The numerous monuments of Samarkand and its suburbs impress everyone with their beauty and splendor.
Uzbekistan‘s most significant national dish is plov (palov, osh or “pilaf”), made with rice, meat, carrots,chickpeas, raisins, barberries,onions, black pepper, zera (cumin) and other herbs. The Uzbek people call plova “The King of Cuisine”.Usually it is cooked ina kazan (or deghi) over an open fire. The people from different regions have own way of cooking. And some time may add fruit for variation.Although it is often prepared at home for family as a part of daily life but on special occasions it is cooked by theoshpaz( osh master chef), sometimes serving up to 1,000 people from a single cauldron.
Shashlik or shish-kabob is common food in entire Central Asia and widely popular in Uzbekistan. Being an agro based country, Uzbekistan is exporting meat to other countries. There are so many ways to cook “Shashlik”, it can be made of lamb, beef or chicken. It can be made of whole or ground meat. The main secret of delicious “Kabob-Shashlik” is the marination. There are different recipes of marination-yogurt with spices, sparkling water with spices, vinegar with spices and other ingredients.
Other notable national dish is shurpa (shurva or shorva), a soup made of pieces of meat (usually mutton) and fresh vegetables. Shurpa was not invented yesterday, it was one thousand years. The mentions of this soup are found in the treatises of the medieval scientists and doctors that are particularly recommended it to give people after an illness.