BUKHARA - HISTORY AND THE MODERN TIMES

Bukhara today is a major regional centre of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which attracts many tourists and pilgrims from all corners of the globe. The history of this ancient, mysterious, majestic city located near the river Zarafshan lasts for more than one millennium. It witnessed  destructive wars, the birth and death of ruling dynasties. It was destroyed many times, the city once again revived becoming even more beautiful. It had many names - Bihar, Bukhar, Pu Ho, Oh Mi. According to one source, the name may have derived from the word "Vihara", which means "monastery" in Sanskrit.

The history of the city is surrounded by legends and myths. According to one of them the settlement appeared on the place of an Ark fortress, built by the Persian Prince Siyavush. When the prince came to woo the daughter of King Afrasiab, the father had given one condition. If the young man would have been able to build a fortification on the skin one bull, the wedding would take place. Quick-witted young man found a way to build a construction not breaking the conditions. He managed to cut the skin into thin strips, tied them together and denoted the area under construction of the Citadel. Ark fortress, around which Bukhara city arose subsequently, is preserved until today, although rebuilt many times over the centuries.

Blossoming of Bukhara

Samanid dynasty ruled in Bukhara until the end of X century and spread its influence in Iran and Central Asia. During this period Bukhara experienced economic recovery, cultural and scientific boom. Being the capital of Samanid State, the city continued its growth. At that time many prominent figures of the enlightenment lived and worked there. Their names have not been forgotten to this day. Among them is a well-known philosopher and physician Ibn Sina, (Avicenna), poets Rudaki and Ferdowsi, a great mathematician, poet and a philosopher Omar Khayyám. The Samanids stimulated development of crafts in this region. Pottery, bronze casting and painting expanded and improved rapidly.

During the reign of  Samanid dynasty great attention has been paid to the development of agriculture and  irrigation systems. At the same time taxation system was greatly improved which led to vast external turnover therefore favorably affected development of Bukhara as a major trading centre. The city increased in size during two centuries, the new artisan districts, hotels and the fortress wall were rebuilt again.

The first madrasa Fardjek appeared in the city. Enlightened rulers stored a huge handwritten library in their palaces which unfortunately was later destroyed. 

The roads of history from Genghis Khan to the present day

The periods from the 11th to the 13th century were particularly tough for Bukhara. At First Qarakhanid dynasty ruled the city followed by the qaraqitays. The invading troops of Genghis Khan finally destroyed the settlement, most of the inhabitants were put into slavery. Despite that the economy of Bukhara had a quick renovation and the city remained one of the most important spots of the Great Silk Road. The famous Italian traveler and merchant Marco Polo who had a business visit to the city was pleasantly impressed with its magnificent architecture.

During the reign of Tamerlane dynasty with its capital in Samarkand, Bukhara became the major regional and cultural center. In 1506 Sheibanids had replaced the dynasty of Tamerlane and the city once again became a capital. Bukhara Khanate was spread in the territory of the modern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The state existed until 1920, though it lost its independence in 1868 under protectorate of the Russian Empire. Later Emirate of Bukhara was destroyed as a result of the revolution. The capital and its surrounding area have been renamed to Bukhara nation's Republic which later was included into the USSR.

Sightseeing in Bukhara and its surroundings

The first thing worth visiting for those arrived in Bukhara is the Old Town area. Back in 1993, this historical area was added to the UNESCO cultural heritage list. Here you can find one of the oldest minarets Kalyan Khan built by Arlslan khan in the early 12th century. According to the legend the ruler built the Tower on the grave of the killed clergyman.

In the heart of the old town one can see a magnificent and very unusual ensemble builed by  vizier Nodir Divan-beghi. It includes the khanaka and madrassah separated by their man-made square pond (khaus). A perfectly preserved ancient Bazaar Toki-zargaron lies nearby.

Ark fortress still stands undestroyed in the Registan square. The Fortified Citadel which protected many buildings to ensure proper functioning during the attacks of the enemies had served as a safe haven to the rulers of Bukhara Emirate. Today there is a Museum where visitors can get familiar with the medieval life of muslims.

 The majestic mausoleum Chashma-Ayub is worth visiting, where one can find the Museum of Water. The building erected during the reign of Tamerlane was reconstructed on several occasions throughout the centuries. According to the legend the mausoleum was erected next to the sacred source, bestowed by the Prophet Job to the local people. According to muslim traditions the building forms four premises oriented to the East-West axis. The burial tower was rebuilt at first while the rest of the ensemble was built later.

 The majestic Palace "Mokhi-Khosa"(meaning "similar to the stars and the moon”) is 4 kilometers from Bukhara. The former summer Palace of the Emirs is distinguished by fine architecture and luxurious interior. The tour will make you feel atmosphere of this Eastern tale. A visit to the Palace will expand your horizons because its Museum exhibits a variety of decorative-applied art.

The most important Islamic shrines - mausoleum Naqshband is 12 kilometres east of the city. Believers consider this place a "small Hajj" for those couldn’t visit Mecca. There are always plenty of pilgrims but tourists will also be interested in its history and architecture.

There are about 140 monuments of ancient culture in Bukhara among them are special noteworthy ones: Magoki-A’ttori mosque, Khoja Kalan and Jami; Khoja Madrasah Gaukushon, Abdullah Khan, Ulugbek’s, Abdulaziz-Khan’s; mausoleum of Buyan-Kuli-Khan; the ensemble of madrassahs and mosques of Khoja Gaukushan. The city is interesting for its history, architecture and unique oriental piquancy. 

Coordinates: 39°46'29" N 64°25'43"E

Area: 40,32 km²

Population: 300 thousand people (2012)

Time Zone: UTC+5

Area Code: 8 365

Automobile Code: 80-84

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