It goes without saying that our experience for free in Uzbekistan is being, after 5 days, exceptional. Its people, its tranquility, its absence of mass tourism but also of problems in which half of this crazy world is involved, isolates us and allows us to enjoy a true journey through the legacy of the Silk Road
What to see in Bukhara, detailed route and map to explore it
You realize that Bukhara's disposition is completely different from Samarkand from the moment you enter it (and more without you have slept near the historic center as in our case - near the lively Lyabi Hauz Square). We are within that history of the Silk Road that describes those walled cities where large caravans loaded with silk, jewels or spices arrived from all sides of the world.
Bukhara is a true museum city with many attractions, full of alleys to discover and, no doubt, in which you want to get lost. What to see in Bukhara if or if? We leave you the next map that we set up for our trip ...
We, with the intention of entering Turkmenistan, have given Bukhara 2 days. How many days would it take? You can see everything to spare in those 2 days but we would have given it 3 perfectly (or even 4).
+ The first day (that is, today), we will start the route in theLiabi-Khauz Square (including the Kukeldash Madrasa, the Khanaka Nadir Divan-Begi and the Madrasa of Nadir Divan-Begi) to look out at the mosque Maggoki thoribefore facing the greatest treasure that the city holds, the monumental complex Poi Kaljan with its minaret and madrassa Miri-Arab. From there we will go to the walled city limits passing through the Khodja Zaynuddin complex and face the outdoor park with the two madrasasMadari Khan and Abdulla Khan that take us to the mausoleums of Ismail Samani and of Chasmai Ayub. We will return to our steps before seeing a show or having dinner somewhere beautiful, visiting the mosque Bolus-Hauz, Zindan and the citadel The Ark
+ The second day (tomorrow), more liberated from the monumental part, we will use it to leaveChar Minar and its 4 minarets next to the hotel and approach the madrassas stuck to Ulugbek and of Abdul-Aziz-Khan. We will use the morning to market and enjoy the bazaars that Bukhara gives us the best city to shop in Toki Zargaron, Toki Telpak and Toki Sarrafon and we will even look for an artist’s store. And the farewell afternoon? We will try to get closer to 3 other jewels around Bukhara: Bakhaouddin Naqshbandi, Sitorai Mohi Hosa and Chor Bakr
Are we ready to leave Paula? Those who want a third and fourth dayDo not hesitate to approach the Bukhara market or they can even look for an option with an agency to approach the nearby Tudakul lake 20 km from turquoise waters, where you can stick a good bath.
Route of day 1, in magic carpet over the historic center
Or at least, as we said above, that magic carpet is what evokes the Bukhara imagination although, due to the fact that we go to bed late from Samarkand, little time we had to dream today in our madrassa turned into charming accommodation called Amulet Hotel where we will be next nights and whose patio now serves for an unbeatable breakfast
Yes in Samarkand we talked about the imposing capital of Tamerlane since 1370, Bukhara had its zenith with its next conquerors, the Uzbek shaybanids, from 1500 to 1598, which made it its imposing capital of an area that extended to Iran, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan with more than 360 mosques and 80 madrassas (in fact most of the monuments date from the Shaybanid period). Later it would be the Janidas until 1785 and the Shah of Persia Nadir Sah, who would carry the Khanato (already as an emirate) without major modifications before the Russian conquest.
Today, as in Samarkand and many other important cities, the secularism of its Soviet era has been imposed on its most religious past, but that does not prevent us from glimpsing one of the most exciting past in history where the Persian world still breathes in every stone. Bukhara was the capital of a Persian satrapía in 500 BC, fell under Alexander the Great and succumbed to the Umayyad Caliphate of Bagdag with the Arab invasion in the eighth century that brought Islam. In the tenth and eleventh centuries it was the capital of the Sassanid Persians again until Genghis Khan and its great Mongol Empire and Tamerlane and Timurida to reach its peak.
Liabi-Khauz Square (1), the atmosphere of Bukhara
Those who read us regularly, know that The Keys have an "unwritten law" that says that all trips longer than 12 days must go "incrementing", that is, to follow the maximum that every day has to be better than the previous one or at least that the best is always to come. According to that theory, if someone comes to Uzbekistan, no doubt our recommendation is to go from Tashkent to Jiva and not vice versa although it is a VERY VERY personal opinion that not everyone can share. For us to enter in these moments in theLiabi-Khauz Square (1), which takes its name from the reservoir that in the 17th century provided drinking water to the city, is that addition.
We are in the main environment area of the city, especially at night (we will return later), "around the pond" (meaning in Tajik of the square) and surrounded by centuries-old trees, several bars, a tea shop and lots of local life. We take this opportunity to supply ourselves with water (1,000 USZ)
The best thing about the square is the Monumental complex that surrounds it, formed by the Kukeltash Madrasa, the Nadir Divan-Beg Madrasa and the Nadir Diván-Begu Khanaka.
The Kukeltash Madrasa (2)
With the name of a general, it is impressive. Is the biggest madrasa of Central Asia as we read and was built between 1568 and 1569
Its interior, like what happened to us in one we saw in Samarkand, is not worth it.
The Madrasa of Nadir Divan-Begi (3)
This Koranic school is named after a kind of "finance minister" and was built in 1622. The facade is impressive, with symbols that again challenge the prohibition of Islamic decoration of figurative art, as we saw days ago in the Registan, they represent the sun and two birds flying. In front of the statue of the wise Sufi master Nasr-ed-Din, mythical character in the popular culture and friend of Paula from now on ...
We enter and return to see cells occupied by local handicraft vendors, who take away a little prominence from the monument.
We also see some prepared tables that serve, it seems, toFolk dances from 19'00 in July and August, and 18'00 in other months but at a price of US $ 55,6000 per person, which seems perhaps excessive.
The khanaka of Nadir Diván-Begi (4)
We talked about Sufis. Surely tomorrow we will have the opportunity to enter more with it since Bukhara was a very important center of Sufism, especially from the Naqshbandi order,
This khanaka, from 1620, served as accommodation for these Sufis en route and although today there is nothing left but the spirit of that time, it is worth walking through its courtyard and imagine what it became but outside ...
… Emma is out! and the great traveling family (Ricard, Arnau and Marti), newly arrived from Turkmenistan. An important part of our incursion we thank them and all the information they gave us. We are staying for dinner tomorrow. !Great! We also know that Joan walks through Bukhara
The Maggoki Thori Mosque (16)
Heading north, almost by chance, we stumble upon a site with more history than interest today, with a beautiful ornate brick facade with beautiful mosaics, ceramic tiles and more details in the columns.
It is supposed to be a museum of carpets and tapestries but we read that pagan altars, a Buddhist monastery, a Zoroastric temple and even a burning Arab mosque were located here during its first centuries, until we reach the current one. These days it has remained closed, a shame, but we took the opportunity to have some quick coffees and get more water (10,000 USZ) and on the way some gifts that have made us special illusion (5 USD and 15,000 USZ)
Poi Kalon Complex, the treasure of Bukhara
Impossible not to find it! Its great minaret is unmistakable from anywhere in the city, as if it were permanently vigilant and guided our ways. Enter your square is AWESOME and is one of the essentials to see in Bukhara without a doubt. The atmosphere of the adventure changes completely again.
The whole of Poi Kalon complex (5) It is formed by the minaret, a madrassa and a mosque and there we are, almost alone, without shops or vendors or groups of tourists and with a ticket valid for two days (6000 USZ each and 2,000 USZ photos) so we will return. It is the magic moment of Bukhara, that in which we would get on the magic carpet to fly over such a special place
Although all the monuments are spectacular from an architectural point of view, It is appreciated when the atmosphere attracts you in a special way. This happened to us in the Sha-i-Zinda Necropolis in Samarkand, in Shakbrisabz and has returned to "visit" us at the Poi Kalon complex
He Kalon minaret (or also Kalian) It is circular in shape at 9 meters in diameter at its base and 6 at its cusp with all kinds of ornaments and geometric shapes on cooked clay and is known as the "Tower of Death" with its 47 meters high, which made his day the tallest in Asia. The most amazing thing is that remains up since the previous mosque of S.XII and has endured all kinds of invasions, including that of the terrifying Genghis Kahn, that ravaged where it passed.
And the earthquakes? We laugh at today's modern systems in the most advanced countries. A mattress of reeds at its base has served to resist for centuries.
We have seen many minarets throughout the trips but this one is simply majestic. How many stories have been lived from him and within him? We also have the song of prayer that also served as an instrument of execution of those sentenced to death, which were launched from almost 50 meters. Anyway…
The Madrasa Mir-i-Arab, whose meaning is "prince of the Arabs", is not far behind with his two huge blue domes that rise like oases that defy the hot desert of Kyzil Kum, in his day more than now. In theory you can not access your patio and, after several attempts in which the guard caught us, we effectively attest that it is so.
As we told in the story, it dates from 1530 to 1536, from the time of the Shaybánida Ubaydullah, and although we had read that it was in disuse, it seems that it still continues to serve as a school and residence for Islamic teaching
Finally there is the Kalon Mosque or Friday Mosque, one of the most impressive mosques in all of Turkestan, where with just entering your patio you get the idea of the place where you are, only surpassed in size by which we saw every day from our hotel in Samarkand, that of Bibi Khanum
The state of the same, whose original dates back to the times of the Samanid Persians in 795 but after the destruction completely by Genghis Khan was rebuilt from the fifteenth century and ended in 1514, is unbeatable. Undoubtedly, so far, it is the most incredible we have seen (do we already fall short of adjectives?)
his courtyard emanates that atmosphere that we find in many places in Iran, prepared for prayer, with its fountain and its tree and a huge space bordered by columns
As we look again, we understand what Genghis Khan came to think not to tear it down, a doubt assails me ... Can you climb the minaret? Small views must be from there. From Isfahan's, whose rise was also ... let's say ... unlawful, it was imposing. However, we discovered that these days there is an inspection of its foundations and interior and that its entry is not allowed, which also makes us happy, so we know that your jewels are constantly under review.
From this moment it has become our base for these days in Bukhara. Friendly, fast, good beer and "decent" food (let's say the plov doesn't just get us excited). We eat and drink for 30,000 USZ including beers
It is a family restaurant with a upper terrace with the best views of the minaret, the madrassa and the mosque although at the bottom it seems that the neighbors next door are under construction and threatens to cover part of the view.
Bukhara also confirms that Uzbekistan has nothing to do with other Muslim countries, especially the Arabs, in the sense of cleanliness. They have a exquisite concept of keeping the streets neat and that is appreciated ... And more with this beautiful panorama!
Thus, we rest until we believe we have regained sufficient strength. Sleeping a few hours (remember that yesterday we arrived late from Samarkand on "the train of hell") can not be good and this has taken its toll on Paula who is a little bit. Don't forget a good first aid kit ALWAYS! Whey is never missing in our suitcase and today it becomes a good ally to follow the route.
Looking for the origins of Bukhara
Fleeing heat and carrying more water (2,000 USZ), we cross the historic center of Bukhara in search of the exteriors of the walled city crossing the first gardens. Both in Samarkand As Bukhara we have not stopped seeing the use of umbrellas as umbrellas for women.
The afternoon takes us to the search for the oldest vestiges of this oasis born in the desert that served as relief for thousands of caravans during the Silk Road
The Khodja Zaynuddin Complex (17)
Walking through Bukhara is stopping every few steps. The Khoja Zain al-Din Mosque-Khanaka is located on one of the oldest virgin lagoons. However we have found it closed.
The Madrasas of Madari Khan (6) and Abdulla Khan (7)
We leave the shelter of the citadel and go to the Samani park where there is no longer a group of tourists, we do not know if because of the heat and the time or because they no longer arrive here. Here we find two facing madrassas built by Abdullah Khan
The Madrasa of Madari Khan (6) built for his mother dates from 1567
The Madrasa of Abdulla Khan (7) it is later, from 1580, and he made it for himself. Here we can see some of the contrasts left by Uzbekistan of the 21st century, where a small and old Lada automobile of Russian origin rests at the foot of the pompous ornaments of the most splendid era of the city
Going back a few steps we found the entrance arch to the park, an excellent place to relax and refresh, full of vegetation and extraordinarily careful.
We did not know yet but we were approaching another of the secret treasures of this wonderful city on our magic carpet
Mausoleum of Ismail Samani (8)
We talked in the Kalon mosque of the samánidas Persians. Ismail Samani was precisely the Persian founder of the Samánida Dynasty who renounced Zoroastrianism for Islam and that is why this mausoleum is of great importance to understand the history of the city. In fact, it is the OLDEST of Bukhara
An avenue surrounded by trees, which relieve our heat, leads us to the mausoleum of the conqueror of Bukhara in 874 whose remains rest in a small rectangular construction, with a spherical dome and other four flanking the main, all surrounded by small arches and brick reliefs typical of the Muslim architecture of the S.X.
Inside (5,000 USZ each but finally let us pay only one), where we enter completely alone, although we do not know the symbology, they stand outsasanid and zoroastric elements like the circle and nested squares that seem to mean eternity.
Undoubtedly, for us, that great discovery that you do not expect and that transmits again the magic of teleporting you to other moments of history so usual in this trip
Mausoleum of Chasma Ayub (9)
Without leaving the site and a little later, we find another austere mausoleum that has nothing to do with the most impressive we saw in Samarkand, the Ayub Chasma (1,000 USZ). Here we also take some postcards (5,000 USZ) and another gift (5,000 USZ)
Legend has it that was built in the 12th-16th centuries on a fountain that Job sprouted hitting the earth with a cane although today there is hardly a well and a lot of imagination.
Is it worth entering? Pseee, let's say not too much but the entrance costs almost nothing. Of course, if from here we continued towards the end of the park we would reach theKolkhozny bazaar and the remains of the walls of an ancient city, always interesting, only interrupted by a memorial complex to the Iman Al-Bukhari, too modern among so much history.
A Paula tea? Beer? Hehe Before entering the park we have seen a beautiful chaikana near Bolo-Hauz where we take advantage of another rest (11,000 USZ)
The Bolo-Hauz Mosque (10)
And the picture of the day? Today it was a mother, proud of her daughter (or son, it was not clear to us), the one who asked us if we could take a picture with the couple dressed as bride and groom who were in full photo shoot through the gardens. Another curiosity, why do brides never talk and go so serious? Do you have any kind of habit to follow?
We return on our steps walking next to a mosque in which we recover religious fervor. We have already commented that Uzbekistan is a secular state that has nothing to do with the religious fanaticism of other surrounding countries and where it is difficult to see a similar scene but Bobo-Hauz, recently restored this year, is one of those exceptions.
The truth is that it is very beautiful, more like a palace with its gallery with carved wooden colonnades than the traditional mosque It turns out that it was a place of prayer for the emirs themselves and their surroundings, built in 1712 for the mother of the ruler Abul Fayud Khan, and still retains its original pool.
Surrounding the ark (of which we speak in the next point), just behind it we return to the most modern times of the city but also more cruel.
Zindan (meaning "old prison") is a jail belonging to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which hosted political prisoners, thieves, criminals and even spies, in very bad conditions and where they were tortured to death.
The savages that could live this place, in a very poor state of conservation and lost through some back streets, come to stories like that of a “black well” where prisoners were left without light, or food and were thrown scorpions or snakes, commenting on horrible tortures.
The visit barely includes 2 or 3 rooms and a small museum, perhaps little "chicha" for the amount of your ticket (3,000 USZ each and 3,000 USZ photos)
The Ark Citadel (12)
The last visit of a very complete day but more for the accumulation of places than for walking (everything is very close), is theresidence of the emirs of Bukhara until the Russian invasion and, from the outside, it is very photogenic
Everything we've read about inside (special thanks to the guys from cometeelmundo.net) talks about a ruined state except for some royal barracks that make a museum and completely discourages your visit
So today we are going to take the opportunity to take energy, dine in the air-conditioned Liabi-Khauz square and go to bed soon in our particular madrassa transformed into charming accommodation
Bujará at night on the magic carpet
The sun begins to fall and local life involves several areas of the old town, especially the square. It is amazing how it can transform. If it is already beautiful by day, what to say at night?
After a certain time they put on live performances although the volume is too high. By the way, if the bee was Mayan, the wasps are Uzbek! Mosquitos we do not see one but wasps there are enough - here too - and if you are one of those who suffer with them they can annoy you a nice dinner (it is not our case)
The room of Amuler Hotel which previously housed wise students and gives us shelter as we write these lines.
Paula and Isaac, from Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
EXPENSES OF THE DAY: