Uzbekistan, a country entwined with the history of The Great Silk Road, is famous for its ancient and world renowned cities. Travelers will have the opportunity to experience living history, not just among remains kept in the confines of a museum, but also in the silence of the distant past among the sites of ancient settlements, temples and tombs.
Upon arrival at Tashkent International Airport, meet and transfer to hotel. Short sightseeing to Khast Imam Complex, Independence Square and Amir Temur Square.
Tashkent, Urgench and Khiva, capital of the Timurid Empire
Early morning takes domestic flight to Urgench. Transfer to Khiva. The city of Khiva has existed since the 6th century. Khiva was the capital of the Timurid Empire, as a busy slave market and pivot of the khanate for certain centuries. Until Russia finally wrested the region from Timurid grasp in the 19th century, even the boldest hearts feared encounters with these fierce tribesmen and their desert territory. Khiva is an ancient walled city and looks much like it did in centuries past.
You will spend the morning wandering its maze of ruins and great mosques. Later, we will go for a tour of this living museum including the Ichon-Qala Gates, Muhammad Amin and Rakhim Khan’s Medressas, Tosh-Khovli Palace, Islom-Huja Medressa and Minaret.
Khiva to Bukhara
Drive to Bukhara through the arid setting of the Kyzyl Kum Desert. Along the way stop for some refreshments and see how humans have survived over the centuries in this unforgiving landscape. With buildings spanning 1,000 years of history and a thoroughly lived-in city centre that hasn’t changed much in two centuries, Bukhara is one of the best places in Central Asia to catch a glimpse of pre-Russian Turkestan.
Most of the city centre is an architectural preserve and includes a massive royal fortress, plenty of former Madrassas, a number of ancient public baths and the remnants of a once-vast market complex. There are over 140 protected buildings in the city.
Today we explore the old quarter on foot. Bukhara is an ancient city with its bustling “trade domes,” active mosques, and the Kalyan Minaret (“tower of death”), one of Central Asia’s tallest. We’ll stroll around the streets and visit the old town center where old men with long white beards gossip for hours while drinking tea. Bukhara has been designated as a World Heritage Site. The resulting restoration of some of the mosques, constructed in the 11th to 15th centuries to make them appear as if they were built yesterday.
You will visit also the massive fortress, The Ark, with the Emir’s open-air throne room and the Mausoleum of Ismail Samani, an intricate and beautiful 10th century brick structure that is nicely preserved. We’ll have an excursion to the outskirts of Bukhara and visit the summer palace of the last emir, built by a Russian Czar with grand halls and a harem. We will also see the Char Minar, a gate of an ancient madrassa long time gone.
Bukhara, Shakhrisabz and Samarkand
Depart early to Shakhrisabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane; we will visit Ak-Saray Palace, Kok-Gumbaz Mosque, House of Meditation and the Crypt of Timur. There’s little left of Timur’s Ak-Saray Palace except bits of the gigantic, 40 m (98 foot) high entrance covered with gorgeous filigree like blue, white and gold mosaics. Continue to Samarkand and for most people, Samarkand is as mythical as Atlantis or as remote and legendary as Tombouctou. On arrival, we’ll visit the famous old bazaars.
Samarkand where sometimes called the ‘Rome of the Orient’ was already flourishing when Rome and Babylon were founded. During the course of our full day tour, we will visit the famous Registan Square, Bibi Khanum Mosque, Mausoleum of Tamerlane, Observatory of Ulughbek, the site where Uleg Bek, grandson of Tamerlane, made some of the greatest achievements of the pre-telescope era of astronomy in the 15th century. We also visit the regal mausoleums of Shah-I Zinda, site of Central Asia’s most sacred Islamic shrine, the massive mosque of Bibi Khanym, and the adjacent colourful market.
You can purchase Samarkand’s famous bread which Alexander the Great unsuccessfully tried to have duplicated back home in Greece, or try some of the region’s local produce, from grapes to the world’s tastiest melons of multiple varieties. Our afternoon tour covers the Afrosiab Museum, locates on the site of ancient Afrosiab and the Historical Museum of Uzbek Culture and Art, with the wooden coffin of Tamerlane and a large copy of the Koran.
Samarkand to Tashkent
In the morning we drive along the scenic road as it winds along the eastern spurs of the Pamir Ranges to Tashkent. We continue on a city tour of Tashkent visiting mosques and madrassas (Islamic schools) housing craft workshops and dating from the 14th century. We will visit the Kukeldash Medrassah, a grand 16th century academy undergoing restoration and the Museum of Fine Arts. Tour is ended. Your guide escort to the airport for departure.
DetailsEnquire about this itinerary
This tour is included
- Hotel accommodations with daily breakfast
- Entrance fees for sightseeing places listed
- Overland transportation by private AC coach
- All airport-hotel-airport private transfers
- Private English speaking escort guide for the whole tour
- Visa support to Uzbekistan
- 2 bottles (0.5ml) of mineral water per day per person
- All International and Domestic Flights
- Meals not shown on the itinerary
- photo/video fee, tipping, personal items, excess luggage
- personal expenses
- gratuities to driver and guides