TOURISM IN UZBEKISTAN
Uzbekistan— a rich tapestry of architectural wonders, diverse natural reserves and modern booming development attracts the attention of the whole world.
For centuries, Uzbekistan sat at the intersection of the Great trade routes along which merchants and discoverers, geographers and missionaries, invaders and conquerors passed cross each other on their journeys to east or west. In modern times, Uzbekistan is top on travel agenda for adventurous people interested in culture and history, traditions, natured exotic destinations.
Uzbekistan is gently proud of its traditionally classic architecture. The Ichan-Kala complex in Khiva, and the historical centers of Bukhara, Shakhrisabz and Samarkand are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Many unique monuments and architectural constructions in these towns still remain genuine and are samples of an era that played a significant role in history.
Tashkent is the Capital of the present-day Uzbekistan and one of the largest cities of Central Asia. An important international transport junction, both in ancient past and in the present, nowadays directly linked to many countries of the world by local carrier Uzbekistan Airways and international airlines.
Tashkent is one of the ancient cities of the world. In 2009 it celebrated its 2200th anniversary. No other Central Asian town has been studied so thoroughly by scientists as this modern capital of Uzbekistan. During the years of Independence more than 240 architectural and archeological monuments within the city boundary have been brought to light. Today the images of olden times such as mosques, madrassahs, and minarets stand in elegant grandeur among parks, museums, fountains, modern skyscrapers made of glass and metal, and highway flyovers.
Today in Uzbekistan there are about 100 museums with almost half of them being located in the capital of the country. Each of them reflects Uzbek land’s rich cultural and spiritual heritage. In the center of the Uzbek capital, the building crowned with the huge blue dome, which reminds ancient domes of Samarkand structures, accommodates the State Museum of Temurids. Its exhibits testify to the formation in the Middle ages of statehood within the territory of Uzbekistan, and highlight the development of science, culture and art fr om the time of Amir Temur.
Over the centuries, Uzbekistan’s cities played a major role in the life of the Great Silk Road, the ancient, transcontinental thoroughfare. But, one city stands out as being “the Heart of Great Silk Road”; that city is Samarkand.
“The Radiate Point of Globe”, “The Jewel of Islamic Architecture”, “The Mirror of the World” are oriental titles bestowed upon Samarkand fr om earliest times. A contemporary of Rome, Athens, and Babylon, this city has already celebrated its 2750th anniversary, who`s golden age occurred during the Temurid dynasty as this very city was chosen by Emir Temur, the greatest warlord and ruler of the Central Asia after Chingiz Khan, as the capital of his powerful Empire, Movarounnahr. Emir Temur carried out a vast program of town-planning during his rule. Here in Samarkand the great ruler gathered skillful architects and craftsmen whose works of art have outlasted the years. His grandson Ulughbek continued these construction traditions. Today the monuments of Samarkand are majestic and wonderful. In this town one can feel the breath of history itself. It can be traced in the ancient ruins as well as in the madrassahs, mausoleums, and minarets, which have been decorating the city until now.
The legendary Samarkand square of Reghistan ranks amongst the key architectural sights in Central Asia. Since ancient times, this square has been the trade and public center of Samarkand. Three grandiose madrassahs—Ulughbek madrassah, Sher Dor and Tillya Kari madrassahs—proudly dominate the square.
Gur-Emir Mausoleum – is another gem of ancient Samarkand. The remains of the Great sovereign, his two sons and two grandsons, including a prominent scientist and thinker of the East, Mirzo Ulughbek, rest in this mausoleum. Fr om a distance the dome of Gur Emir mausoleum looks like a blue tulip, with gently folded turquoise petals. The architectural décor of the monuments is grand, opulent and worthy of being the setting for any Scheherazade fairy tale.
Registan Square, Gur-Emir mausoleum, Bibi-Khanum Mosque, Shakhi-Zinda Ensemble, Ulugbek’s Observatory, this is not the complete list of all those monuments that fascinate the visitors of the ancient city.
Bukhara, the famous trading post on the Silk Road, stirs the romantic in many travelers.
With over 2500 years of history and a welcoming atmosphere, Bukhara is one of the tourists’ favorites. More than 140 monuments of ancient architecture, and these sights are located within a compact area and are best seen on foot.
Ismail Samani Mausoleum, the 9th-century monument whose exterior is an intricate pattern of delicate masonry resembling the lace; majestic Ark fortress, once a fortified residence of the rulers of Bukhara; Kalyan Minaret whose vertical lines mark the city skyline at about 50 metres; a living maze of numerous mosques and madrassahs, caravanserais, baths and multi-domed market buildings – all these monuments are inimitable gems of Holy Bukhara.
Khiva, “the museum in the open”, is the only town along the Great Silk Road, which has remained intact through centuries andhas retained the exotic flavour of a medieval town which time has not destroyed but has just frozen. Today Ichan Kala, the nucleus of ancient Khiva offers the visitors the most stunning homogeneous collection of architecture of the late 18th century – the first half of the 19th century.
Khiva is crammed with historic buildings. City’s ancient gates, a chain of minarets, including the 45-metre tall Islam-Hojja Minaret, the architectural complex of Pakhlavan-Makhmud, the patron saint of Khiva, congregational Juma Mosque with carved columns of astonishing beauty, the exquisite Tash-Hauli Palace built in the 19th century as a residence for the emir, his entourage and harem… You would need days rather than few hours to discover this ‘museum in the open’, to explore its tiny streets, to lose yourself hundreds of times and “find” yourself gazing at another splendour.
The multi-faceted history of Uzbekistan is undoubtedly a reflection of its geographical location particularly in the case of the city of Termez – the southernmost city of the country. Termez was founded on the right bank of the Amu Darya at the crossroads of Silk Road caravan routes, as a main port and for more than 2,500 years centuries it has retained this capacity.
At the beginning of our era, Termez acquired one more function, ideological, having become the main center of Buddhism in Central Asia from wh ere Buddhist spread to China and Japan. Such sites in the vicinity of modern Termez as Kara-Tepe rock-hewn Buddhist cave monastery, Fayaz-TepeBuddist temple, 16-meter-high brickZurmala Tower – the remnant of a large Buddhist stupa are very popular among tourists and Buddhist pilgrims.
But Termez is famous not only for its Buddhist antique relics. The historical monuments of early Middle Ages are no less fascinating. Among them we can name one of the greatly valued monuments of the Muslims world – the burial-vaultof Khakim at-Termezi, Sultan Saodat Ensemble (10th-17th centuries) and legendary Kyrk-Kyz fortress of the 9th century.
Today Karakalpakistan is an alive communication between the contemporary and ancient world. With its wonderful and unique sites it is ready to share its legends and secrets with you.
The ancient castles of “Kyrkkyz-Kala”, “Ayaz-Kala”, “Djanbas-Kala”, the mausoleums of “Ichan-Kala”, a beautiful town of “Toprak-Kala” and other historical and archeological statues, located in the territory of Karakalpakistan, present a great intellectual and cultural interest that attire a number of tourists from the other regions of the country as well as the foreign countries.
Traditions and customs of Uzbek people living on the crossroad of the Great Silk Road were taking shape within many centuries as a result of interaction of Zoroastrian rituals of the Sogdians and Bactrians and traditions of nomadic tribes, with certain impact of Islamic traditions and rites set by the Koran in later period.
Travelling in Uzbekistan tourists can both see the architectural gems of Uzbekistan and whenever possible take part in the celebration of the most cherished national and folk holiday of Uzbek people. (For example NAVRUZ- New Year festival of spring which falls on March 21st)
Each itinerary includes a visit to a national house wh ere tourists can learn about lifestyle of local people, taste the national Uzbek cuisine and enjoy the folklore show.
Uzbek national cuisine is rather delicious. Rich traditions and ancient culture of Uzbeks’ cooking have a history of many centuries. A wide assortment of products is used and each dish reflects the lifestyle and culture of the Uzbek people. The delicious Uzbek national cuisine is unlikely to leave indifferent even the most pernickety gourmet.
The traditional idea of an oriental bazaar as a place of abundant merchandise, brightness of colours and lively bustle finds its embodiment in Uzbekistan.
At all seasons the fruit and vegetable stalls impress with an abundance and diversity of the produce. But in summer and autumn the oriental bazaar is particularly impressing.
The bazaar’s active life starts early in the morning and ends when it gets dark. The unique atmosphere of the oriental bazaar is created by inviting shouts of the salespeople, automobile honks, sounds of national music, smells of spices and roasted meat, fruit and vegetables of all colors…
Where in the past there were caravanserais modern hotels appeared. First-class hotels with internationally famous names and excellent world-class service are available in the major cities of Uzbekistan: Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Urgench. A number of B&Bs have sprung up over the past several years, each with a style and character of its own. Altogether there are about 350 hotels in Uzbekistan with total capacity of 9000 rooms.
Uzbekistan today has a developed tourism infrastructure which meets the international standards. You don’t need to spend months in order to reach your destination, like it was in the times of the Silk Road.
Today Getting to Uzbekistan is quick and easy. As one of the main gateways to Asia, Uzbekistan has direct flights to the world’s major cities.
Travelling on horses and camels is no longer a reality. Instead tourists can delight in beautiful landscapes of the country, while traveling by speedy, comfortable, air-conditioned cars or coaches.
Uzbekistan is not only about history and fabled architecture. Enthusiasts of active tourism have always been very much attracted by Uzbekistan’s exotic nature with its contrasts, diverse flora and fauna, abundance of sunny weather all the year round, and friendly climate.
Uzbekistan embraces as diverse types of the environment as deserts with their sand-dunes, blossoming oases and riverside tugai woods, alpine meadows and mountains topped with eternal snow.
The charm of Uzbekistan’s unrivalled nature can be experienced during the trekking tours in the Western Tien-Shan, the Celestial mountains. In search of extreme adventures there come to Chimgan valley numerous mountaineers, avid to surmount the peak of the Big Chimgan, which is 3309 meters high (10850 feet).
Romantic appeal of horse riding attracts people of any age and temperament. Horseback ride tours are generally arranged in summertime, but Uzbekistan’s unique climatic conditions make horse riding possible all the year round. One of the most popular alluring horseback riding travels are through Ugham-Chatkal National Wild Park well-known for its rich flora and fauna.In some eighty kilometers off Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, at the foot of snow-covered spurs of the Western Tien Shan Mountains there exists“Chimghan Oromghohi” resort complex designed for horse ride enthusiasts. In the stables of the complex there are horses of local breeds, such as kurama and karabair, as well as akhal-teke breed and sturdy half-bred horses. From here the horseback tours head up through the wilderness areas of the National Park.
Impressions of your journey along the mountains wh ere fresh, clear air is filled with the superfine aroma of the numerous herbs and flowers, the squeak of a saddle, rhythmical clatter of hoofs and romantic evening meal round campfire under bottomless mountain sky with myriads of stars, will be long kept in your memory.
The ambience of the legendary Silk Road of our distant past can be experienced during camel safari through the Kyzyl-Kum Desert. Sand-dunes, merciless sun, sparse islands of saxaul, camel’s-thorn (alhagi) and sand, sand, sand… In early spring, thanks to the life-giving rains, the desert is covered with purple poppies and an emerald carpet of grass – sadly, these colours fade quickly. At the camel farm tourists change their comfortable cars to camels- the only suitable form of transport in the desert and start their exotic journey. Unforgettable impressions of riding on camelback; watching the beautiful sunset, its colours bleeding into the horison’s shimmering sands; overnight in yurtas (Kazakh collapsible tents); exotic national dishes and ceremonies — this is what makes this tour popular with tourists.
Heli-ski and snowboarding
Mountains of the Western Tien-Shan offer everything a snow enthusiast could ask for. Comparatively mild climate, almost windless weather, availability of three hundred sunny days a year, big choice of skiable terrain with tracks for cross-country skiing, slalom and downhill runs, create good conditions for winter recreation.
Over the last few years “Chimgan-Charvak-Beldersay” resort area has become a popular location for enthusiasts of heli-ski and free-ride, the youngest but fast developing types of extreme sports and recreation. Thus on the beautiful mountain slopes of Chimghan tract, located at the height of 1600 – 2400 meters above sea level, the blanket of snow lies from October till May and the local skiing routes meet the requirements of the International Mountain Skiing standards.
For the enthusiasts of heli-skiing many runs start from the heights up to 4000 m above sea level and finish in the valley. You can make up to 6 runs per day making the first tracks in virgin powder.
‘Asian Switzerland’ as Uzbekistan is sometimes called, is especially attractive for those who fancy extreme traveling, who become ecstatic about rafting down the rapid local rivers.
Rafting along the rapid Chatkal River is the favorite activity of extreme travelers. They are interested in many-day rafting along the route rated as the route of the fifth category of complexity, as well as in diverse landscapes and natural obstacles. Not less than fifty serious obstacles await the travelers on the river. Among the hardest ones are waterfalls, cascades of rapids, stony shallow areas with rapid current, whirlpools, rocky gorges and sharp stone cogs sticking out of waves.
Tashkent Lake Side Golf Club is a wonderfully organized golf club with first-rate golf fields. 108 hectares of land with 18 holes on evergreen lawns, with gently sloping hills and branchy crowns of trees, lakes and waterfalls that serve as natural barriers for the game, all this pertains to Tashkent Lake Side Golf Club. It also possesses a large recreational area with training lawns, tennis courts, swimming pool, sauna.
For all the flavours of its storied past, cultural mosaics and unique natural beauty, warmth, hospitality and enthusiasm of the people, Uzbekistan is the country to visit and marvel.
WELCOME TO UZBEKISTAN!