In Sanskrit word, Bukhara signifies “monastery” and this city was once a large commercial center on the Great Silk Road.

Bukhara was first mentioned in Chinese chronicles in the early 5th century. It is one of the oldest trade and cultural centers in Central Asia. The city itself was founded by Persian Prince who built a citadel there after he had married to Afrosiab’s daughter in Samarkand. But the growth of the city mostly depended on its strategic location. It is situated on the crossroads leading to the main important centers of Asia. The history of this city is very astonishing. Bukhara oasis of Soghdiana was conquered by Alexander the Great, also it was once ruled by the Kushan empire and later became a part of the Hephthalites Reign. When the Arabs arrived they found already prosperous trading center. It was the capital of Samanid State during the 9-10th centuries. During that period Bukhara – “the Pillar of Islam” became Central Asia’s religious and cultural heart, brightened with the Persian love of arts. In 1220 Bukhara was conquered by Genghiz-Khan and in 1370 it fell under the protection of Timur’s Samarkand.

Bukhara attained its greatest importance in the late 16th century, when the Shaybanids’ possessions included most of present-day Central Asia as well as northern Persia and Afghanistan. The emir Mohammed Rahim freed himself from Persian vassalage in the mid-18th century and founded the Mangit dynasty. In 1868 the khanate was made a Russian protectorate, and in 1920 the emir was overthrown by Red Army troops. Bukhara remained the capital of the Bukharian People’s of Soviet Republic, which replaced the khanate, until the republic was absorbed into the Uzbek S.S.R. in 1924. It remained the capital when Uzbekistan gained its independence in 1991. The city grew rapidly after the discovery in the late 1950s of natural gas nearby.

In Central Asia this city has always been referred to as “Bukhara the noble”. The old town with its narrow streets, ancient buildings and dominating massive walls of the Ark fortress still retains the atmosphere of a medieval city.

The old town still retains much of its former aspect, with its mosques, madrassahs (Muslim theological schools), flat-roofed houses of sun-dried bricks, and remains of covered bazaars.


MAUSOLEUMS OF SAMANIDS (9th-10th c.c. A.D.) is the family burial-vault of the founder of Samanid dynasty Ismail Samani,one of the first monuments in Uzbekistan built from baked brick and consequently perfectly kept till our days.Architecture of the monument strikes by a simplicity and singularity of the form.The monument is without furnishing,but builders using only bricks created unbelievably unique patterns,which look different during a day depending on the light intensity.

CHASHMA – AYUB MAUSOLEUM belongs to esteemed “places of trace” left by saint persons.Alegend says that Prophet Job (Ayub) once visited this place.An impact of his staff made a well(“chashma”).Its water is still pure and considered curative.Legenfs inform that a cultic construction existed here in the 12th century.Characteristic feature of Chashma-Ayub is a conic dome,typical for Khorezm architecture of the 13th-14th c.c.Probably,Khorezm masters brought to Bukhara by Timur were the builders of Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum.

BOLO – HAUZ MOSQUE. Many years ago Registan Square was occupied by numerous beautiful buildings.Today there is only one monument of medieval Bukhara – Bolo-Hauz Ensemble.It is a classic sample of Central Asian mosque:the winter building of 1712,summer avian of the early 20th century with ornamented ceiling and wooden columns,small basin and small minaret constructed in 1917 by usto Shirin.The brightest feature of the mosque is a décor of the avian,columns of which are made of two joined trunks each and have stlatite capitals.

THE ARK CITADEL is the most ancient memorial of Bukhara,with foundations dating to the 3rd century B.C.The Ark contained an entire city,with the state chanceries lying side by side to the Emir`s quarters and his harem.During the long course of its existence,the Ark was repeatedly damaged and destroyed,but always reconstructed by a new dynasty tating over,such as the 16th century Sheybanids,who shaped the Ark the way it looks today.The buildings you pass or enter on your visit to the Ark were all reconstructed between the 17th and 20th c.c.

THE POI KALYAN ENSEMBLE, the religious heart of Holy Bukhara or Pedestal of the Great .

The cathedral Mosque of Bukhara was originally situated near the walls of Bukhara`s Citadel but was badly damaged in 1067 during a sivil war.The governor of Bukhara at that time,Arslan Khan ordered the mosque to be re-built away from the citadel,the likes of which had not been seen medieval chronicles tell us:”there was not anything of its kind,so workmanlike and beautiful ever made”.What the traveler admires today is not the original construction,which unexplainably collapsed not much later.The minaret casting its long shadow over the square these days was built in 1127, 46.5m in height,with a diameter of 9m.Access is gained over a bridge –passage from the mosque and the climb well worth it for the view over the Bukhara oasis is magnificent.

“TRADING” DOMES. Medieval Bukhara was known as a business city receiving merchants from Central Asia,Iran and India,Russia and China.Central streets served as markets,each of which specialized in different product.So,domed and multi-arched buildings were constructed in squares and crossroads to make sale more comfortable.They were named “Tok” – arch,dome.Three of those constructions are still safe.These are:Toki Zargaron(dome of jewelers),Toki Telpak Furushon(dome of headwear sellers),Toki Sarrafon(dome of moneychangers).Architecturally and functionally Tim of Abdullakhan belongs to “Toks”.It is a large multi-dome trading construction for silk sale.

MAGOKI – ATTARI MOSQUE. The most ancient mosque of Magoki Attari is situated in the centre of Bukhara near Lyabi-Hauz.In the early Middle Ages a temple of fire-worshippers as located here behind southern Attaron bazaar.The Arabs conquered Bukhara erected one of their first mosque in this place.In 1930 archeologists dug out the southern portal of the mosque with unique ornamental bricklaying and archaic carved majolica.The portal built in the 12th century is regarded as a masterpiece of Bukhara architecture.In the Late Middle Ages Magoki-Attari was a district mosque.

LYABI – HAUZ COMPLEX (lit.”brim of a pool”) is very popular among tourists.It is the largest artificial reservoir of medieval Bukhara.It was made in about 1620 between Khanaka and Madrassah,constructed by the order of khan`s vizier Nadir Divan-beghi.The two new buildings and Kukeldash Madrassah formed a perfect architectural ensemble with the reservoir in the center.The pool is 42m long,36m wide and about 5m deep.Lyabi-Hauz`s “banks” are equipped with stone steps by which Bukhara watermen went down to take some water.

THE CHOR MINOR (Four Minarets) MADRASSAH is one of the most charming and quirky buildings in Bukhara,all the more surprising because,built in 1807,it dates from a period of suffocating cultural stagnation.The building,resembling an upside-down chair thrust deep into the ground,is merely the gatehouse of a madrassah(90 m to 40m) built by the rich Turkmen merchant Khalif Niyazkul.If you view the building from the south you are standing in the madrassah courtyard with its former summer mosque to your left and water pond to your right.The only remains of the madrassah lie crumbling to the sides of the Chor Minor.

Strictly speaking,the four towers that sprout from the gatehouse are not minarets and never have been.None of the structures has a gallery,precluding any call to prayer,and three of four are purely auxiliary,only the fourth providing access to a first floor library.

SITORAI MOHI HOSA PALACE was a country residence of Bukhara Emirs.It has been under construction for two decades since the end of the 19th century.Amir Abdullahad-khan started construction of the old palace.The new palace complex ofSitorai Mohi Hosa was finished in the time of Emir Alim Khan.It had a grand entrance arch,yard with galleries ,main building in European style and house for emir`s harem in the garden.The carved stucco on mirror background made by Bukhara masters headed by Usto Shirin Muradov in “The White Hall ” and paintings by Usto Hasan Djan in the reception room are recognized true masterpieces of handicraft.After the revolution of 1920,Sitorai Mohi Hosa was used as a session hall of the Supreme state body of Bukhara National Republic.(1920-1924).

BAKHAUDDIN NAKSHBANDI ENSEMBLE. Bukhara`s holiest ensemble is a place of shrines,stories and superstitions,of burgeoning faith and parallel Islam.It is also the burial place of one of Sufic Islam`s founders and holiest saints,BAKHAUDDIN NAKSHBANDI(1318-1389).The site is also permeated with the holy Sufic number seven;in the seventh month the saint came into the world,in his seventh year he knew the Koran by heart and at the age of 70 he breathed his last.