Historic Centre of Bukhara
Historic Centre Of Bukhara
Cultural Uzbekistan Asia And The Pacific Bukhara Region

Bukhara, which is situated on the Silk Route, is some 25 centuries old. It is the most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia, with an urban fabric that has remained largely intact. Monuments of particular interest include the famous tomb of Ismail Samani, a masterpiece of 10th-century Muslim architecture, and a large number of 17th-century madrasas. The historic part of the city, which is in effect an open-air museum, combines the city's long history in a single ensemble.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the settlement on the site of latter-day Bukhara became part of the Kushan state as early as the 2nd millennium BC. In the 4th century it was incorporated into the Ephtalite state. Before the Arab conquest Bukhara was one of the largest cities of central Asia, owing its prosperity to its site on a rich oasis and at the crossroads of ancient trade routes. It became a major cultural centre of the Caliphate of Baghdad in 709, and in 892 the capital of the independent Samanid Kingdom. A time of great economic growth came to an end with the sack of the city in 1220 by the Mongol horde of Genghis Khan. It slowly recovered, to become part of the Timurid Empire. The internal strife of the late 15th century led to the occupation of Bukhara by nomadic Uzbek tribesmen led by Khan Sheibani, becoming the capital of the Bukhara Khanate. A long period of unrest and short-lived dynasties ended in 1920, when it was absorbed into the Soviet Union;nevertheless, this period saw Bukhara consolidating its role as a major commercial and cultural centre.

The townscape of latter-day Bukhara represents every stage of the city's history. The earliest monuments include the 10th century Ismail Samani Tomb, the decorated brick minaret of Poi-Kalyan from the 11th century, along with the Magoki Mosque and the Chasma Ayub Shrine. The Timurid period is represented only by the Ulugbek Medresseh. The most celebrated buildings date from the Shebibanid period - the Poi-Kalyan group, the Lyabi-Khauz ensemble, the Kosh Medresseh, and the Gaukushon Medresseh. A little later came the medressehs at important crossroads, such as Taki Sarafon (Dome of the Moneyshangers, Taki-Tilpak-Furushan (Dome of the Headguard Sellers), Tim-Bazzazan, and Tim-Abdullah-Khan. Among the fine buildings erected in the anarchic early 17th century must be included the great new mosque Magoki Kurns (1637) and the imposing Abdullah-Khan Medresseh. It should be stressed, however, that the real importance of Bukhara lies not in its individual buildings but rather in its overall level of urban planning and architecture, which began with the Sheibanid dynasty.