Uncover the legacy of the Silk Road in Samarkand. The captivating city will astound you with a treasure trove of mosques, mausoleums and monuments decorated with jewel-toned tiles. Discover more than 2,500 years of history and find out why UNESCO describes it as a “crossroads of world cultures”.
Things to do in Samarkand
The Registan is framed by magnificent “medressa” Islamic schools decorated with shimmering mosaic tiles. It’s one of the most beautiful squares in Central Asia and was once an enormous bazaar. Ulugbek Medressa dates back to the 15th century and once hosted astronomy, philosophy and mathematics classes. Tilla-Kari Medressa is built around a leafy courtyard and the mosque is decorated with shimmering gold leaf.
Stroll along pedestrianised Toshkent Street and browse shops selling hand-painted ceramics, carved wooden ornaments and gleaming silver jewellery. Head to bustling Siab Bazaar to see towers of colourful teas, spices and “halva” fudge.
Bibi-Khanym Mosque towers over the city and is one of the largest and most impressive in Central Asia. The enormous, blue-tiled dome is visible from across the city. Don’t miss the huge marble Quran stand in the central courtyard, as well as the several smaller mosques in the complex decorated with intricate Arabic calligraphy.
Shah-i-Zinda, or Tomb of the Living King in English, will dazzle you with its intricate mosaic work. The complex features a series of mausoleums decorated with vivid turquoise tiles. The craftsmanship is incredible, with tombs like Shodi Mulk Oko Mausoleum created as early as the 14th century. Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum is another mesmerising monument. It’s decorated with azure mosaics and marks the final resting place of Timur, the legendary Turco-Mongol conqueror.
Getting around Samarkand
Samarkand is pedestrian-friendly and easy to get around on foot, while taxis are a fast and affordable way to cover longer distances. High-speed trains run between Tashkent and Samarkand in 2.5 hours. Samarkand International Airport is a 30-minute drive away.