Leaving Turkmenistan was a whole lot easier than arriving – we slept through the border crossing into Uzbekistan; the formalities handled by the train staff.
With a government actively encouraging tourism and a more open society Uzbekistan is a great country to visit. There’s fabulous mosques, medressas (Islamic schools), minarets and mausoleums in beautiful still-alive cities. Mathematics, medicine, astronomy, arts and architecture developed here. The Silk Road brought wealth and cultures. Crafts developed in those times continue but now the buyers are tourists.
First stop on the train – Bukhara. It feels like nothing much has changed much in the last few centuries with over 100 impressive blue tiled Islamic buildings around a pedestrianized centre. You can easily imagine a thousand camel caravan arriving. We were fortunate to be there during the annual festival “Day of the City of Bukhara” – much happiness and celebration in the streets.
Char Minar, 19th century gatehouse for a no longer existing Medressa
Bolo-Hauz Mosque, built in 1712, is World Heritage
Ark of Bukhara, a vast fortress dating from the 5th century
Massive walls of the Arc fortress
Mir-i-Arab Medressa, built in 1535
Kalon Minaret, 45m high brick, built in 1127
Inside Kalon Mosque, located on a pre-Islamic worship site
Details around Kalon Mosque
At the back of the Kalon Mosque
Trading dome from the old Silk Road – vendors now sell their wares to tourists
Weaving carpets is all done by young women with nimble fingers
A historic building reflected in its pond
Cultural show of traditional Uzbek dance and costume
Silk ribbons for Bukhara Day fluttering along the street leading to the old silverware trading dome
Crafts developed centuries ago are still on sale in Bukhara
One of the many Medressas in the old town
Fashions of Uzbekistan – beautiful silk dresses on beautiful women
There is still a Jewish Synagogue in Bukhara
A mausoleum built in 12th century over (Biblical) Job’s holy spring
Brick mausoleum built in the 10th century before the introduction of blue tiles
Harem of the last Emir
At every turn more exquisitely patterned blue tiles
Mausoleum of the founder of the Sufi Order “Naqshbandia”
Women use the upper door knocker & men the lower so if a man knocks the woman inside knows not to open the door
Puppets inspired by real people, Ali Baba and the 40 thieves below
A look-alike puppet
Brandy in the Desert
After leaving Bukhara en route to Khiva, at dusk the train stopped at a small village in the desert. We all got off to look around and drink some Uzbekistan brandy before heading off again.
Brandy in the desert