Historic area of Bukhara

Old City of Bukhara has an older and less ostentatious feel than Samarkand. Where Samarkand's monuments are flashy and colorful most of the sights in Bukhara are more subdued and constructed of baked, with intricately carved brickwork, rather than glistening tiles. Of course, the famous tiled mosque walls and blue domes are present as well, providing markers for the otherwise low-lying skyline. Old Bukhara can easily be explored on foot and it quite pleasant walking through the labyrinth of quite lanes where no cars allowed.

The Historic Centre of Bukhara is a UNESCO World Heritage Site: According to UNESCO: Bukhara, which is situated on the Silk Route, is more than 2,000 years 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 Madrasahs. [Source: UNESCO]

With the exception of a few important vestiges from before the Mongol invasions of Genghis Khan in 1220 and Timur in 1370, the old town bears witness to the urbanism and architecture of the Sheibani period of Uzbek rule, from the early 16th century onwards. The citadel, rebuilt in the 16th century, has marked the civic center of the town since its earliest days to the present. The real importance of Bukhara lies not in its individual buildings but rather in its overall townscape, demonstrating the high and consistent level of urban planning and architecture that began with the Sheibanid dynasty.

Important monuments that survive from early times include the famous Ismail Samanai tomb, impressive in its sober elegance and the best surviving example of 10th century architecture in the whole Muslim world. From the 11th century Karakhanid period comes the outstanding Poi-Kalyan minaret, a masterpiece of decoration in brick, along with most of the Magoki Attori mosque and the Chashma Ayub shrine. The Ulugbek medresseh is a surviving contribution from Timurid. With the advent of the Sheibanids came some of the most celebrated buildings of Bukhara: the Poi-Kalyan group, the Lyabi-Khauz ensemble, the Kosh Medresseh and the Gaukushon medresseh in the Hodja-Kalon ensemble. Later buildings from this phase of Bukhara´s history include monumental medressehs at important crossroads: Taki Sarafon (Dome of the Moneychangers), Taki-Tilpak-Furushan (Dome of the Headguard Sellers), Tim-Bazzazan, and Tiro-Abdullah-Khan. In the early 17th century fine buildings were added, including a new great mosque, Magoki Kurns (1637), and the imposing Abdullaziz-Khan medresseh (1652).

Sights in Bukhara

The main sights in Bukhara are fairly concentrated. Many of them are under UNESCO protection. They include the Ark fortress, Poi-Kalyan ensemble, Labi- Hauz architectural complex, Ismail Samani mausoleum, Sitorai Mokhi- Khosa Palace, and the complex of Bakhouddin Nakshbandi. Buildings constructed with a high level of architectural skills and craftsmanship can be seen all over the Old Town area of Bukhara.

As one old sayings goes: “On all Muslim cities light descends from heaven, but only in Bukhara it rises to the sky”. You’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else where such a large number of Islamic saints’ tombs, mausoleums, mosques and historical buildings are compressed so tightly together. Traditional tea house can be found in Lyabi-Hauz square.

Interesting places worth a look include include the Turki Jangi Mausoleum, the grave of a famous holy man where people come to make wishes; the Museum of Art, which contains mostly 20th century paintings; the Fayzulla Khujayev House, a fine example of traditional Bukhara merchant house; and number of madrasahs and mosques. It is worth wandering the neighborhoods around the main market to get a sense of what traditional Uzbek courtyard houses are all about.

Labi-Hauz (the Bukhara Old Town)

Labi-Hauz (the Bukhara Old Town) is a charming plaza surrounding Bukhara’s last remaining pool and the main gathering place in the Old Town of Bukhara. Built in 1620, it is a pleasant place with kebab restaurants, brick steps, carpet shops, mulberry trees and women is psychedelic Uzbek dresses hawking souvenirs. Labi-Hauz it is only part of the Old Town that has a lived-in quality. It name means “around the pool” in Tajik.

Labi-Hauz has a timeless quality. Old men while away the hours at traditional tea houses and on wooden platform, gossiping and playing backgammon, dominoes and card games. Young boys, stripped to their underwear, leap into the murky green water of the tree-lined pool. Around the edges of the square are several old mosques and religious schools, some in operation but most housing tiny boutiques selling brass, paintings and skullcaps. On the east side of the square is a statue of Hoja Nasruddin.

Most of these buildings here were built in the 16th and 17th centuries. The most unusual of them is the Nadir Divan Begi Nadrassah Madrasah, which lies on the east side of the square and was built as a hotel-caravanserai in the 16th century and was declared a Madrasah by the khan in 1630. On its facade is a colorfully-tiled bird mosaic. On the west side of the square is the Nadir Divan Begi khanaka.

North across the street is the Kukeldash Madrasah. In its time it was one of the largest Islamic schools in Central Asia. South of Labi-Hauz are the remains of Bukhara’s Jewish quarter. Among the back streets are many surprises including a three-room, white-washed synagogue. There used to be seven synagogues in Bukhara now there is only this one.

Maghoki-Attar (near Labi-hauz in the Taqi-Sarrafon Area) is Central Asia’s oldest mosque and Bukhara’s holiest site. Located near the old spice and herb bazaar, it was founded in the 12th century and reconstructed in the 16th century and sometimes used by Jews as a synagogue. Underneath archaeologists have found the remains of a 5th century Zoroastrian temple and an older Buddhist temple. Part of the archeological excavation remains exposed. Nearby is a display of Bukhara carpets and prayer mats and a park built on the site of an old caravanserai used by merchants from the Caucasus.

Covered Bazaars of Bukhara

Covered Bazaars of Bukhara (west and north of Labi-hauz) lie in a busy market area filled with shops, arcades and narrow streets. The central area contains five dome-covered buildings built in the 16th century to provide merchants with a cool centralized place for selling. The original domed buildings were built at a major intersections of the bazaar and each housed merchants that specialized in a certain trade, such as books or hats or jewelry.

Only three of the domed buildings remain: Taqi-Sarrafon (formally used by moneychangers), Taqi-Telpak Furushon (formally used by cap makers) and Taqi-Zargaron Sarrafon (formally used by jewelers). Two have been renovated and again house a few shops. In the Taqi-Telpak Furushon Area is a 16th-century arcade known as Tim Abdullah Khan, a men’s bathhouse (used until the 1990s and restored in the 2000s). On the site of the fountain in this area were two old caravanserai, one reserved for Hindu traders. Also in this area is a new Madrasah built with Saudi Arabian money.

Bukharan Jews

Ulughbek Madrasah

Ulughbek Madrasah (near Labi-hauz in the Taqi-Zargaron Area) is Central Asia’s oldest Madrasah. It was built in 1417 and was one of three major Madrasah built by Mirzo Ulughbek, Tamerlane’s grandson (the other two are the Registan in Samarkand and a Madrasah 50 kilometers away in Gijduvan). It reopened briefly after Uzbekistan became independent but was closed down.

The Ulugbek Madrasah in Bukhara is one of the earliest buildings built by Ulugbek (1394-1449). According to historian Abdurazzak as-Samarkandi, Ulugbek visited his Madrasah in the Muslim lunar month of Zu-l-qa’da during the trip to Bukhara. The historian wrote: “Shahzadi Ulugbek on the third of Zulka’da AH 822 (November 28, 1419) deigned to visit Madrasah, located within the city of Bukhara and built because of his extraordinary generosity. Generously endowing students and other worthy people (Mudarises) went to Samarkand…” The chief architect of the Madrasah was Isma’il the son of Tahir, who was nicknamed the Wizard.

Ulugbek Madrasah was repaired and restored several times. The first time under the orders order of Shaybani ruler Ubaydullah-khan (1533 — 1539. Eminent scholars, poets and calligraphers taught in the Ulugbek Madrasah when Khan and his son Abdalaziz (1539 -1549) ruled. In 1586 there was a major repair described on the entrance portal of the Madrasah. Around late 19th — early 20th centuries, there were slight repairs to the hujras, the window frames of which were painted by the Usto Ahmad. In 1994, for Ulugbek’s jubilee celebrations, the main portal group, the Arabic inscription on kiteb and the tow of majolica were restored. The galleries of the first and the second floors, courtyard and build area within the perimeter of the yard were partly restored. The area in front of the main portal was landscaped.

Abdullaziz-khan Madrasah

Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasah (near Ulughbek Madrasah) was built in 1652 and eschews the Muslim prohibition on images of people and animals. A former lecture hall now occupied by a shop contains an original Chinese-style fresco. In the same area is a two-story student dormitory and a small winter mosque.

Abdul Aziz Khan Madrasah is one of the largest buildings built in the17th century in Uzbekistan. It was raised by Abdullaziz-khan ibn Nadr-Muhammad ibn Jani Beg Khan with the intention surpassing the buildings of all his predecessors in terms of richness of the architectural decoration. At first glance Madrasah of Abdullazizkhan looks Ulughbek Madrasah. But a closer look reveals that Abdullaziz Khan Madrasah is much larger in overall dimensions: 50 x 67 meters with — outside dimensions; yard — 28x35 meters.

Particular attention is paid in Abdullaziz Khan Madrasahs, to interior decoration. In the darshan there are murals in Chinese porcelain style with a blue on the white background, featuring architectural landscape, light pavilions among the bizarre trees, stylized clouds and water flows. Time also brought us the names of the authors of this remarkable monument, woven into the patterns they have created: the court builder Muhammad Salih, mosaicist Mime-khakan, the son of Khoja Muhammad Amin, who made the painting of the mosque, and the calligrapher Maulana Muhammad Amin. All of these masters are representatives of a distinctive and highly developed art school.

Kalyan Minaret and the Poi Kaylan Ensemble

Kalyan Minaret (five minute walk from Labi-hauz) is one of the oldest structures in Bukhara and one that reflects the city’s architectural achievements and its cruelty. Built in 1127 by a Karakhan khan who wanted to be called to prayer from the grandest minaret in the world, it is made of baked bricks and stands 155 feet tall and measures 30 feet in diameter and has a 30-foot-deep foundation that includes layers of reeds to absorb the shock of earthquakes.

Kalyan (sometimes spelled Kalan) means “great” in Tajik. For centuries, it was the tallest structure in Central Asia. It managed to stand erect for 850 years with only minor touch ups and restorations. The exterior features 14 ornamental bands, each with a different pattern and some containing the first blue glazed tiles to be used in Central Asia. A stairway inside the adjacent mosque lead to the top of the tower. The stairway can be climbed. Ask inside the mosque for directions to the door that leads to the stairway.

Kalyan Minaret is part of The Poi Kaylan (“Foot of the Great”), an architectural ensemble centered around the Kalyan Minaret (1127-1129) and including the Kaylan Mosque (the foundation of 12th century, it was rebuilt in the 15th century and the beginning of the 16 th century), Miri-Arab Madrasah (1527-1536) and the Madrasah of Amir ‘Alim-khan (1914-1915). It is located in the heart of shakhristan (Old Town) of Bukhara. After Uzbekistan became independent in 1991, the complex underwent a major renovation under “the initiative and the leadership of President Islam Karimov. ”

History of Kalyan Minaret

The Kaylan Minaret is the most magnificent building in Bukhara. According to the author on the history of medieval Bukhara Muhammad Narshakhi (in the Kubawi’s interpretation), Kaylan was built by the ruler of Bukhara Arslan-khan (early 12th century) at the new mosque of the city. The first attempt to build a minaret on the site was unsuccessful and the minaret fell on the mosque. Instead of the old collapsed one there was built a new one, which has been preserved to this day. It was built in 1127-1129; the height of the minaret is 45. 6 meters.

Around the middle of the trunk of the minaret, a tumbledown inscription survived in kulfi script. During the taking of Bukhara in 1920, troops under the command of Mikhail Frunze at the time of the shelling by the direct hit stalactite cornice and the inscription with it were destroyed. During restoration in 1923, the building inscription under it was replaced by the zone of geometric mosaic (by master Abdalqadur Baqiev). After the earthquake of 1976, the cornice partially collapsed, and it was restored in 1980 built on old photos.

According to legend the minaret was built over the grave of an imam killed by the Karakhan khan in a quarrel. During the invasion of Bukhara, Genghis Khan was so taken by the minaret that he ordered it to be spared. Local legend has it that when Genghis Khan, who normally torched everything he conquered, visited the tower to admire its height, he tossed his head back to see the top and his skullcap fell off. Kneeling to pick it up he noted that this was the only time he had been forced to go down on one knee for anyone or anything. Thus he left the tower intact.

In the 18th century Bukhara's emir's converted it into a killing tower. On market days, condemned criminals were led up the 105 steps and displayed before the crowds. After their crimes were read they were tied up and sewn into a bag and tossed off the top. Thousands are said to have died this way and locals maintain the ground is still dented around the tower.

Kalyan Mosque

Kalyan Mosque (next to Kalyan Minaret) is a huge complex built in the 16th century on the site of the mosque destroyed by Genghis Khan. It is large enough to accommodate 10,000 people and contains a roof with 288 small domes. In the Soviet era it was used as a warehouse. In 1991, it reopened as a place of worship and contains lecture halls used by students at the nearby Madrasah.

The first Friday Mosque of Bukhara was founded in 713 by the Arab commander Qutaiba ibn Muslim in kuhandiz (Ark/fortress) of Bukhara on the site of a pagan temple in the first quarter of the 12th century. Karakhanidian ruler Arslan –khan, Muhammad ordered to transfer Friday mosque and minaret to the western part of shakhristan. This action ended in failure: the unfinished minaret crumbled and destroyed the mosque. The mosque was restored in 1121, and the minaret, which was completed eight years later, still serves as a vertical dominant in the historical part of Bukhara.

As archeological research shows now under the existing mosque there are the remains of two more mosques and the lower one is the construction of Arslan — Khan, and it had the same dimensions as the current existing building. Apparently, it was the largest mosque in Mavarannahr before the construction of Bibi-Khanum Mosque (Khanum/ Khonim) in Samarkand in 1399-1404. The second mosque (the first quarter — the middle of the 14th century) was erected on the site of the first, and was of the same type, but the whole brick one. The third now existing building is a mosque which was built supposedly during the reign of Mirzo Ulugbek. This grand construction (80x130 meters) is rectangular, elongated in the east-west axis.

In 1514, during the reign of Ubaydallah-khan (date — in the alcove of the entrance portal), there has been undertaken the large repair of the mosque. In recreating the majolica inscriptions master Bayazid al-Purani participated. In 1542, in the niche of the entrance portal the marble plaque with the text with the order on behalf of Abdullaziz-khan (son of Ubaydalla-khan) about releasing the inhabitants of Bukhara from certain taxes (the inscription is made by the same calligrapher pir shaykh al-Purani) was built in. At the beginning of 20th century, Bukhara master Shirin Muradov was involved in repair work of the mosque.

Miri-Arab Madrasah

Miri-Arab Madrasah (across a square from Kalyan Mosque) boasts impressive azure domes that stand out among the brown buildings that surround it. Named after a Yemeni sheik, it is a working Islamic school that opened in the 16th century and was only working Madrasah in Central Asia in Soviet times. The Madrasah was carefully restored by Soviet archaeologists. It has come back to life. In the main hall students memorize the Koran. In the early 2000s, it had 250 students who enrolled at the age of 17 or 18. Students study Arabic, the Koran and Islamic law and live in cells lining the courtyard. The Madrasah is officially closed to visitors but tourists can sometimes step in and have a brief look around. .

The Miri Arab Madrasah is the major portion of the entire architecture of the Pa-yi Kalon ensemble, which includes the Madrasah is believed to be built by Sheiykh Abdallah Yamani (his ancestors came from Yamen), spiritual leader of early Sheybanids. Ubaydullah khan (1512-1539) donated means for construction of the Madrasah. The portal of the Madrasah is faced on the portal of Kalyan mosque. Kalon minaret is located on the Southwest of the Madrasah.

The Miri Arab Madrasah was restored several times. In 1970-75 cylinders and domes have been restored. At the same time the main entrance portal, yard portals were restored. The restoration engineering strengthened main portal and southern yard portal. Great restoration work with random restoration of architectural decoration and inscriptions were made on the eve of the 2,500th anniversary of the city of Bukhara in 1997. The main façade, the avian of the main façade, roof, facing the dome has been completely renovated. The huge estrade (sufa) was disassembled outside of the main entrance. This building has been serving as a religious Madrasah since 1945.


Ark is a fortress where Bukhara's emirs lived. Bukhara’s oldest structure, it has been occupied since the 4th century B.C. and has been destroyed and rebuilt many times—most recently in 1920 when the Bolsheviks seized power from the last emir—and has little left of major historical value. About three quarters of the site is occupied by ruins. The walls are probably about 300 years old. Some of the original royal buildings have been turned into museums.

The main square of the Ark was used for Bukhara’s notorious slave market. At the steep tunnel entrance to the fortress, there are small chambers dug into the walls that were used as public torture chambers by the emirs. One of the royal apartments has been converted into a museum with an interesting exhibit that includes Bukhara carpets, rugs, snake-skin whips used on the prisoners, a Soviet-era condemnation of Islam, and a royal robe that weighed 25 pounds and was padded to make the emir look bigger.

Other buildings include the 17th century Friday Mosque, featuring a porch supported by sycamore logs and a small museum with 19th and 20th century manuscripts; the living quarters of the emir, now housing a small museum dedicated to the Soviet period; the Reception and Coronation Court, where the last emir was crowned in 1910 and kept his treasury and harem.

In front of the Ark is a the Registan, a large square, where slaves were sold, executions were carried out and merchants gathered to sell their stuff. Beside a pool opposite the Ark’s gate is the Bolo-hauz Mosque, the emir’s official place of worship. Built in 1718, it is a working mosque. The painted porch is supported by 20 columns of walnut, elm and poplar.

The citadel was the residence of the rulers of Bukhara until 1920. Today, it the home of the Bukhara State Architecture and Art Museum-Reserve, the depository and the museum of local lore.

Bug Pit of Zindan Prison

Bug Pit of Zindan Prison (behind the Ark) is where enemies of the Bukhara Emir waited to have their throats cut with a sheep butcher’s knife after they were tortured. The pit was a four meter deep hole, accessible only by rope and was so named because it was filled with unpleasant insects as well as spiders, ticks, rats, and scorpions. The two most famous occupants of the pit were British: Col. Charles Stoddart and Capt. Arthur Conolly. Stoddart spend three years in the prison, with at least one of them spent in the Bug Pit before Conolly was thrown in to join him. They spent a year together in the Bug Pit, before the Emir finally had them executed.

Stoddart came to Bukhara in 1838 on a diplomatic mission to persuade the emir there, Nasrullah 'the Butcher," to support British military activity in Afghanistan during the time of the first Afghan War. Stoddart has been described as temperamental character with an exaggerated sense of honor. He refused to obey local laws forbidding infidels to ride horses and requiring them to wear special clothes. For the crimes of arriving without a gift for the emir, refusing to be frisked when he approached the emir. and presenting a letter from the governor-general of India rather than Queen Victoria, Stoddart was thrown in the Bug Pit. Stoddart remained in the Bug Pit for two years until Connolly showed up.

Connolly, author of A Journey North of India, went to Bukhara to secure Stoddart’s release. Connolly had just been ditched by his girlfriend and in may ways acted on his own. He entered Bukhara as a “private traveler. ” He arrived with heroic ambitions of not only rescuing Stoddart but of winning the support of the emir for a plan to unite Bukhara, Khokand and Khiva under British rule. For his trouble, Connolly too was thrown in the bug pit, where he and Stoddart remained together for a year. The British government did virtually nothing to help them.

On June 24, 1842, Col. Stoddart and Capt. Connolly were let out of the pits and marched into the into the city square in front of the Ark. "Filthy and half-starved," one historian wrote," their bodies were covered with sores, their hair, beards and clothes alive with lice. " While crowds cheered and musicians played drums and pipes, they dug their own graves and were executed. The executioner seized Stoddart’s hair and slit his throat with a knife usually used for butchering sheep. Connolly it was reported could have saved his life if he repeated the Muslim creed, but he didn’t and his throat too was cut.

Another occupant of the bug pit, or at least a prison similar to it, was an Italian named Giovanni Orlando, who was captured in 1851 after encouraging marauding Kazakhs to raid Bukharan estates. He managed to initially escape trouble by building a clock for Emir Nasallah. After the clock was made the emir was delighted and Orlando was accorded special privileges but after he was discovered drunk with an Armenian the Emir told him he would have to renounce Christianity or face death. The Italian refused. Even after his execution nicked his neck with a blade he refused to renounce his religion and was ultimately beheaded.

The old Zindon (jail) has only eight rooms and is northeast of the Ark, just behind it and is a little hard to find. It lies outside the Ark complex behind a block of mud houses. Inside one can see a torture chamber, shackles used on prisoners and several dungeons, including the infamous fourth cell, the Bug Pit. There are also some early-20th-century photographs of pre-Soviet Bukhara. There is an attendant there. He will show you the square 1. 7-meter-wide hole beneath the Zindon. It is black and spooky looking. Nearby is a stone chute that was used to deliver fresh manure from stables to the pit to attract creatures and make life that much more unpleasant for the prisoners kept there.

Hamam Bozori Kord: Bukhara’s Turkish Bath

Hamam Bozori Kord is a Turkish Bath. In the days of the emir, there were about 20 hamam (baths) in the Bukhara Old Town: now there only two: the male “Bozori Kord” and the female “Kundzhak”. The Hammam Bozori Kord was built in the 16th century. English traveler and diplomat, Anthony Jenkinson, England’s first ambassador to Russia, wrote in 1558 in his report about Bukhara: “Bukhara is a very large city with many brick buildings and beautiful buildings. Hamams of this city are built with such talent and skill, I think that in the whole world it is impossible to find anything more perfect. ”

When it was functioning, Bozori Kord was heated with the help of a 900-liter copper cauldron, which in turn was heated with a single huge one-meter-wide candle was made of leather, equestrian and camel fat, with a wick was made of special silk. Hamams at that time worked around the clock and were illuminated at night with the help of phonuses (hand lamps), During the day the sunlight penetrated through special openings in the domes. Inside was a changing room, a “Poyshoykhona” room (for ritual washing of the feet) and a dome-shaped hall “Miensarai”, the main part of the bath. In the domed hall there was a Garmkhona (hot room), Hunukhona (cold room), a mehrab (a place for prayers) and a large marble sofa for massages.

Hamam Bozori Kord has been restored. Heating is now carried out with gas, but otherwise the bath procedure has not changed much since the 16th century. The procedure begins with steaming the body. Then, on the steamed skin, peeling is done using a special rag device called “halt” that resembles a silk bag. With this, the skin is prepared for massage. After scrubbing off the old skin, the body is washed with water, followed by the soap massage procedure. The massage lasts about 25 to 30 minutes. After the massage, a mixture of ginger and honey is applied to the body. This mask is believed to have an anti-inflammatory effect and improve blood circulation. The body is again washed with clear water and the visitor then relaxes with a tea made with seven herbs. Address: Bukhara, “Old Town”, Telpakfurshon trade dome.

Ismail Samanid Mausoleum

Ismail Samanid Mausoleum (in Samani Park, outside the Old Town, a five minute walk from the Ark) is one the oldest standing structures in Bukhara. Completed in 905 and named after the founder of the Samanid dynasty, it is a small domed brick building constructed in the shape of an almost perfect cube, measuring a little more than 10 meters feet on each side, and sitting several feet below ground level. The building is mud colored, but the brickwork is quite intricate, almost woven in appearance, and is said to display every geometric shape known. The bricks cover a two-meter-thick wall that has remained standing after numerous earthquakes.

The dome represents heavens while the cube symbolizes the earth and the Kaaba, the most important Islamic landmark in Mecca. There are also Zoroastrian symbols such as circles in nested squares, symbolizing eternity. As the sun rises and sets, shadows cast by the bricks constantly change.

According to written sources, the mausoleum was built in 902-907 as a family tomb of one of the branches of Samanid dynasty (10th century). The building was constructed by Isma’il Samani over the grave of his father, and later he was buried here himself. Entrance located on the east side is a main one. On its hard wood overlap there are remains of the inscription, in which only the name is readable: Ismail.

Chashma-i Ayyub

Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum (west side of the Old Town, 500 meters west of The Ark) is in the middle of the small ancient cemetery near the Samani Mausoleum. Chashma-Ayub means Job's Well, based on a legend in which Job (Ayub) visited this place and made a well by striking the ground with his staff. The water of this well is still pure and is considered healing. The current building was constructed during the reign of Timur and features a Khwarazm-style conical dome uncommon in Bukhara. Restoration Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The preserved parts represent a combination of harmonious entrance portal and adjoining to it the rests of the fencing wall from the west. The constructive scheme of the portal is a traditional and made up in the form of two pylons, forming the niche overlapped by the semi vault. The II-shaped frame inside of which forms the obverse surface, tympanum and ktoba are concluded with an inscription above the lancet arch. From the northern part of the niche portal is limited gable wall with a doorway. From the western end face the portal is adjoined with the deep bricked wall in the extent of 5,9 meters, which the western piece has been lost. The wall has the form of the trapeze in section with big size in the basis. [Source: National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO]

“The central room is overlapped by the tent peaked dome. Except for the made proportions this monument differs well considered and perfectly executed décor, which basic part is concentrated to the portal. The most effective place in the general composition of the decor is ktoba, filled with Arabian inscription on the background of the vegetative ornament. The portal frame on the external contour is marked out by the II-shaped zone strengthened by girikh from intertwining octahedrons, made of terracotta bricks. Glazed inserts of turquoise color fill the central octahedral sockets. The tape bordered frame and ktoba. The historical value of the monument consists of the exact dating written on ktoba (1208-1209. A.D.) or 605 year by Muslim Calendar. ”

“On an example of Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum, it is possible to consider dynamics of the development of architecture of Central Asia, since an epoch of the government of Karakhanids from the end of the 11th century down to the middle 15th century A.D. Its architecture and affinity make this construction the unique by some elements with funeral mosque of the first construction's period with mausoleum of Al-Khakim at-Termiziy in Termiz and tent dome similarly with mausoleum of Khazrat-Imam in Shakhrisyabz, and mausoleum Turabek-Khanum in Kunya-Urgench.

Last Emir’s Palace

Last Emir’s Palace (four kilometers from central Bukhara) is where the last emir of Bukhara spent much of his time. The building was designed by Russian architects and the interior was decorated by local craftsmen. In a room with heart-shaped windows there is an excellent collection of porcelain. The former harem is located beside a pool. The emir reportedly notified his sleeping partner for the night by throwing an apple her way and then bedded down with her in the nearby wooden pavilion after she took the requisite bath in donkey milk. . The palace was originally a summer palace called Palace of the Moon-like Stars. It was built by the last emir’s father at a site chosen because meat rotted there more slowly than in other places. The palace now houses Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts (see the next section)

The original palace was first built by the third-to-last Emir of Bukhara, Nasrullah Khan. Nothing of that remains. Nasrullah Khan was a crazy and cruel but he loved his wife Sitorabony very much. When she died in childbirth, he named the palace after her: Sitora-i Mokhi Khosa Saroy, (Palace of the Moon-like Stars, sitora means star) Nasrullah Khan’s grandson, Abdul Ahad Khan, rebuilt the palace in the mid-19th century. The entrance portal, a wild clash of traditional majolica and Russian-influenced geometry, still stands. His son Alim Khan, the last Emir of Bukhara, built the summer palace we see today. This palace was completed in 1917, three years before the Russian claimed Bukhara drove the emir to Afghanistan and claimed the 400 women in the Emir’s harem. [Source: Caravanistan

The summer palace of the Last Emir consists of three buildings, set in Persian-influenced rose gardens and surrounded by courtyards that recall the Timurid era. At the opulent entrance gate, there is a bookshop occupying the emir’s wine cellar and servants’ quarters. The inner courtyard contains some of the Emir’s private possessions. The nearby White Hall is decorated with ganch (Uzbek-style stucco), niches, Venetian mirrors and a huge Polish chandelier. Around the courtyard is a chess room, a banquet hall, and a chaikhana (teahouse) featuring thing like an early refrigerator, photographs of the emir, a mirror that multiplies 40 times and a few remaining carpets from the Emir’s father’s collection of 4000 carpets.

Behind the main palace building is octagonal guesthouse that now serves as an an exhibition of traditional Central Asian clothes and expensive robes that took two years to embroider with gold thread, horsehair veils that were sort of the Muslim version of a hair shirt. The harem was a two story building and a pool. The emir kept 40 ‘dancing boys’ as well as women in his harem and enjoyed spying on the harem occupants using peepholes and hidden staircases. During the Soviet era, the harem and the octagonal guesthouse were occupied by convalescing kidney patients from the nearby sanatorium. Hours Open: 9:00am-7:00pm, April to October, 9:00am - 5:00pm November - March, Tuesday 9:00am- 2:00. Entrance Feer: 9000 sum Getting There: A taxi there cost only a couple US dollars.


Chor-Bakr (five kilometers west of central Bukhara) was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008 and is part of the Silk Roads Sites in Uzbekistan that was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Memorial complex of Chor-Bakr has developed in the place of the prospective burial place of Abu-Bakr-Said who has died in 360 year by Muslim Calendar (970-971 A.D.) - one of the four of Abu-Bakrs (Chor-Bakr) - descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. At the tomb "sacred" appeared the necropolis of family tombs, constructed court yards enclosed with walls. [Source: National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO]

“In 1858 Adullahan II, in gratitude for support and help at his accession, has started to build the complex of buildings (khonaqo and mosque) for Djuybarsk sheikhs near the tomb of their ancestor, connecting road of Bukhara with "Chor-Bakr". The necropolis continued to develop, and its new composite center became buildings of khonaqo and mosque, erected between them in two stages of khudjra. All constructions of the complex are erected above family burial places of Djumbarsks' sheikhs. Finally, the memorial develops at the beginning of the XX century when the small minaret is erected on the area before the basic constructions.

“Many constructions of ensemble have richly decorated polychromatic by the tiles. In many courtyards above burial places, marble gravestones with epigraphic inscriptions and groove of the vegetative and geometrical ornament are installed. The structure of ensemble includes 25 constructions - khonaqo, mosque, ayvan with khudjras, darvazahana, minaret and 20 small objects - courtyards - burial places with the dome coverings, separately standing portals. The territory occupies both memorial and ancient cemetery equal to 3 hectares.

“Memorial complex of "Chor-Bakr" is very much valuable with its planned and the volumetric-spatial shape. The memorial was exposed to insignificant restoration works, has losses of an architectural decor, and in the separate constructions is lost domes. Improving and sparing conservational works were executed. "Chor-Bakr" as a whole has preserved on 80 % the authenticity and integrity. Complex Chor-Bakr is similar to the memorial Bahouddin Naqshbandi formed as a necropolis of the supreme estate of the clergy and governors of Bukhara. The most remarkable is its architecture and planned structure that makes it an outstanding sample of the architectural and technological ensemble, illustrating important stage of development of the human history and its spiritual culture.”

Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts

Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts (four kilometers from central Bukhara) is located in the Arts Last Emir’s Palace described above in some of the rooms and buildings. The 6. 7 hectare property embraces, gardens, flower beds, vineyard, orchards, and a zoo. Some of Bukhara’s best known masters and craftsmen such as Usto Sh. Muradov, N. Khafisov K. Samadov and H. Umarov were were involved in the construction of the palace, engineering was carried out by Russian specialists Margulis and I. Sakovich, who served in the emir’s court.

The old palace was built in the 2nd half of the 19th century by the father of the last emir of Bukhara, Mir Sayid Akhadkhan. The construction of the new palace continued under the last ruler Sayyid Alim Khan from 1912 to 1918 in the twentieth century. :”The interior of the summer palace” exhibition in the main building contains palace furniture of the 19th-20th centuries, Chinese and Japanese porcelain of the 14th-20th centuries, palace art objects from Russia, jewelry of famous Bukhara masters, gold-embroidered panels and blankets are on display here. In the center of the garden is an octahedral pavilion, designed in the past for guests of the palace.

The pavilion houses the exhibition “Clothes of the Bukhara Citizen of the Late 19th- Early 20th Centuries”. Here is a collection of gold-embroidered palace clothes, belts, scarves, shoes. In the southern part of the garden is the third building of the palace, which is a two-storey brick mansion with a glazed greenhouse, a gazebo and a pond. The pavilion presents the exposition “Embroidery of the Bukhara region and household utensils of the late 19th — early 20th centuries”. The Bukhara school of decorative embroidery is the unique and brightest phenomenon of embroidery art of Uzbekistan. The exposition shows samples of decorative embroidery “suzane”, prayer rugs “joynamoz headdresses”, jewelry for women’s dress, handbags, purses, mirror bags, men’s belt scarves and other items used in everyday life to 19th — early 20th centuries. Hours Open: 9:00am-7:00pm, April to October, 9:00am - 5:00pm November - March, Tuesday 9:00am- 2:00. Entrance Feer: 9000 sum Getting There: A taxi there cost only a couple US dollars.

Bukhara State Architecture and Art Museum-Reserve

Bukhara State Architecture and Art Museum-Reserve (in the Ark) has a large collection divided into the: 1) Department of History; 2) Department of Numismatics and Epigraphy; 3) 3) Department of Nature of the Bukhara region; 4) “Bukhara oasis. Antiquity and the Middle Ages”; 5) “Monuments of writing” (8th-20th centuries)

1) Department of History (from ancient times to the 15th century) covers the period from the Paleolithic era (100-12,000 B.C.) to the Timurids era (14th — 15th centuries B.C.). Here you will get acquainted with the ancient history of the formation of the Uzbek statehood, the cultural heritage of the peoples who lived in the territory of the ancient Bukhara oasis. The most interesting exhibits are artifacts from Sak burials (IV century BC-IV century A.D.), unique wall paintings of Varakhsha and Paikend 7th-X centuries, luster ceramics of the XI-12th centuries, bronze items X- 11th centuries, glazed ceramics of the Timurid epoch of the 14th-15th centuries.

2) Department of Numismatics and Epigraphy: The numismatic collection of the Bukhara State Museum-Reserve has more than 20,000 exhibits. These are collections of coins of the pre-Muslim and Muslim periods of history, seals, stamps, banknotes of the Bukhara Khanate and the emirate of the Russian Empire of the 18th-beginning. 20th centuries. and the modern era.

3) Department of Nature of the Bukhara region: The exposition acquaints with the peculiarities of the physico-geographical location of the Bukhara region, the wealth of the region’s earthly bowels, and the unique flora and fauna of the Bukhara region.

4) “Bukhara oasis. Antiquity and the Middle Ages”: Every year, on the territory of the Bukhara oasis, on the ancient settlements and barrows, international archaeological surveys are conducted by specialists from the Institute of Archeology. J. Gulyamova of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan with colleagues from the State Hermitage Museum (Russia), archaeologists of the University of Rome La Sapienza (Italy), the Louvre Museum (France), etc. At the exhibition you can get acquainted with the findings found on the sites of Paikend, Varakhsha, Uchkulah, Setalak, Kyzylkyr IV-III centuries. B.C. — 20th century.
5) “Monuments of writing” (8th-20th centuries) : The exhibition presents magnificent samples of the handwritten texts of the holy Quran, copied by the best calligraphers of Bukhara from the 8th to the 20th centuries, samples of calligraphic texts of the “kitta” — good wishes in Arabic and Persian languages, handwritten works of eminent poets of the East — Alisher Navoi, Abdurahman Jomi, Jalidididydidu rewritten by famous calligraphers of Bukhara in the 17th-19th centuries. and etc. The exhibition “Palace military and horse equipment from the funds of the Bukhara Museum-Reserve” The exposition presents: gold-embroidered military dressing gown, trousers, belts, belts, guns, blankets and horse harness. Address: Uzbekistan, 200101 Bukhara, St. Abu Hawsi Kabir, 2; Tel: (+99865) 224-13-49 Website: bukhara-museum. uz ; Hours Open: 9:00am to 5. 00pm, everyday except closed on Wednesday

Museum of the History of Carpet Weaving of Bukhara

Museum of the History of Carpet Weaving in Bukhara (inside 12th-16th century Magoki Attori mosque, not far from the ancient Shahrud canal, near the Sarrafon trade dome) opened in 1991 and demonstrates various types of traditional carpet weaving, carpentry and felting of Central Asian peoples. The origins of carpet weaving in Central Asia date back to the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the carpet carpets of the Uzbek tribes “Mitan”, “Yuz”, “Kurama”, and “Naiman” became very popular in Central Asia.

The museum collection consists of 104 samples of carpet products used in the everyday life of the peoples of Uzbekistan — Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmen, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Central Asian Arabs and Uighurs. The collection is subdivided into types: carpet carpets — “gilam”, high-pile — “julhirs” and carpet items, various in technique and color. Being excellent examples of decorative and applied art, the collection of carpets and carpet items of the museum is represented by well-known schools: bashir, kizil-oyek, tekke, yomud, salor, ersari, kizil ayak abound in various motives. A distinctive feature of the carpets of Bukhara design is an ornament in the form of abstract geometric shapes, patterns and patterns characteristic of nomadic Turkmen tribes. Carpets, carpets, Khurdzhins, joynozy, chuval, felt and other items of the museum collection are woven from woolen, silk and cotton threads.

The traditions of the art of agricultural peoples influenced the style of products, and was manifested in the construction of ornamental patterns, which featured tribal symbolism, heraldic compositions of animals and birds, and geometric motifs — a hyrex, including such elements as hexagons, circular rosettes, and lattice patterns. Address: Bukhara, St. Naqshband (near the Sarafon trade dome) Tel: 8 (365) 224-15-91 Website: bukhara-museum. uz

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Uzbekistan Tourism website (National Uzbekistan Tourist Information Center,, Uzbekistan government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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