Bukhara Region is an ancient region is located in the southwest of Uzbekistan in Zarafshan valley in the Kyzylkum desert. Its capital and largest city Bukhara sits on its eastern side. Bukhara Region borders Turkmenistan to the southwest, Navoiy Region to the north and Qashqadaryo Region to the southeast and touches small parts of the Xorazm Region, and the Karakalpakstan Republic. It covers an area of 39,400 square kilometers and has a population of about 1. 6 million, with 71 percent of them living in rural areas. Other major towns and cities include Gijduvan, Ghazli, Kagan, Romitan and Vobkent.

The first mention of cities in the Bukhara region appeared in the Chinese travelers chronicle in the II century B.C. The first cities appeared on the territory of the region about 2500 years ago, and the first mention of Bukhara was the invasion of the settlement in the 6th century B.C. by the Persian king Cyrus. After 3 centuries Alexander the Great came here. Then there was an ancient fortress Ark and a lot of caravanserais (hotels), where caravans from India and China stayed.

The Bukhara region is an important center of the Islam and birthplace to many prominent scholars, such as Imam al-Bukhari — the famous preacher, researcher of the hadith and interpreter of the Holy Quran, and Abu Ali Ibn Sina — the great scientist, philosopher and physician known as Avicenna. .

The region has the largest number of Islamic spiritual and educational institutions in Central Asia. Among them are Imam al-Bukhari mausoleum, Miri Arab Madrasah, Abdulazizkhan Madrasah, Mirzo Ulugbek Madrasah, Ismail Samani mausoleum and the Poi Kalan complex. In the Bukhara region you can find are seveb mausoleums for famous scientists of the Naqshbandiyah Sufi spiritual order.

Near Bukhara

Romitan (25 kilometers from Bukhara) is one of the oldest cities in the Bukhara oasis. Archaeological evidence suggests that the settlement on the territory of modern Romitan was founded even before the Arab invasion. The Romitan Local History Museum describes the rich history and culture of the region. Museum exhibits include: 1) Carved terracotta from the Varakhsha Palace (7th-12th century) ; 2) ceramics (12th century.) ; 3) silk and semi-silk clothing of rural and urban residents (19th-20th centuries) ; 4) silver jewelry (19th-20th century). Address: Bukhara region, Romitan city, St. Y. Navruzova, 17

Jeyran Ecocenter for Endangered Animals (42 kilometers south of Bukhara) has been set up in the southwest of the Kyzylkum desert to breeding rare endangered species. The center has won recognition as one of the most effective breeding centers of rare ungulates and over more than three decades has helped to establish a viable population of Persian gazelle, onager and Przewalski’s horses. In addition, the ecocenter is home to other species of animals and plants, both common and rare. Djeyran Reserve covers an area of 51,450 square kilometers (19,860square miles). It is a breeding centre for rare species such as goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa), Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus przewalskii), Turkmenian kulan (Equus hemionus kulan) and MacQueen's bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii). The reserve was founded in 1977 on the enclosed area in 5,131 ha (19.81square miles). Address: Kagan, 200100, Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Kyzylkum Nature Reserve in Bukhara Province was established in 1971. The area of the reserve amounts to 101,000 square kilometers (39,000square miles) and it is located on flood-land (tugai) drained by the Amu Darya close to the settlement Dargan Ata. Fauna include: Bactrian deer (Cervus elaphus bactrianus), wild boar (Sus scrofa), common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetus).

Shrine of Sayyid Amir Kulal (in the village of Suhar, 25 kilometers north of Bukhara) is built over the grave of the Sufi spiritual authority and mystical scientist Hodjagan Amir Kulal (ca. 1281-1370), and the six successors in the chain of spiritual succession (silsila) of this school. He was a disciple of Muhammad baba Sammasi (died in 1354). Amir Kulal had more than one hundred students, the most famous of which was Bahauddin (Baha’ad-din) Naqshband. The modest was a place of pilgrimage. In Soviet times, the place was abandoned. Mosque of the early 19th century was completely destroyed. Over the tomb of the scholar double-domed tomb was built. The main burial chamber is decorated with kufic inscriptions, and the second is decorated with curly masonry, creating a fanciful play of light and shadow. At the same times the gates, the mosque, premises for pilgrims, for ritual purification, an octagonal pond, a minaret 10,5 meters high were built. The garden was divided with paths, lined with polished brick and marble staircase. Wooden leaves of the gates were carved by Bukhara masters.

Kyzylkum Desert

Kyzylkum Desert is a large desert that covers the western two thirds of Uzbekistan and much of southern Kazakhstan and part of Turkmenistan. Covering an area is about 300,000 square kilometers ((115,000 square miles), it is mostly flat, barren and shrubby and embraces gravel plains, stretches of sand and dry steppe. Kyzyl-Kum means “Red Sand” in Turkic languages. The Kara-Kum in Turkmenistan and the Kyzyl-Kum deserts merge, and together form the forth largest desert in the world.

By itself The Kyzylkum Desert is the 15th largest desert in the world. Its name means. It is located in between the rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya, a region historically known as Transoxania or Sogdiana.. Most of the desert lies on an extensive plain at an altitude up to 300 meters (980 ft) above sea level and embraces depressions, saline type lowlands, and highlands. Much of the area is covered with dunes (barchans). In in the northwest large areas are covered with long and wide takirs (places where the clay soil is cracked under the influence of the scorching sun). There are also some oases and sandy hillocks that sometimes reach a height of 40 meters There are irrigated agricultural settlements along the rivers and in the oases. Temperatures can be alarming high during the summer, which runs from mid-May to mid-September. Kerki, a town on the banks of the Amu Darya River, recorded 52 degrees C (126 degrees F) in July 1983. It can also be quite cold in the winter, especially in the Kazakhstan part of the desert. In spring, after rains, sometimes there are mass bloomings of desert flowers, bringing the reddish sand alive with different colors.

Desert animals include the Russian tortoise (Testudo horsfieldii) and a large lizard known as the Transcaspian or desert monitor (Varanus griseus), which can reach lengths of 1.6 meters (5.2 feet). The saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) occasionally migrates through the northern part of the desert but is usually seen in steppe environments. In the sands one sometimes sees saksaul (Haloxylon). The saksaul jay nests in the branches of saksaul tree). Other animals found in the desert, where they can find something to eat, include Bactrian deer (Cervus elaphus bactrianus), wild boar (Sus scrofa), common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetus), goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa), Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus przewalskii), Turkmenian kulan (Equus hemionus kulan) and MacQueen's bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii).

Bakhautdin Naqshband Mausoleum

Bakhautdin Naqshband Mausoleum (12 kilometers east of Bukhara in the village of Kasri Orifon) contains the tomb of Bakhautdin Naqshband, a 14th-century founder of an important Sufi sect in Central Asia and the unofficial “patron saint” of Bukhara. The tomb itself is an austere two-meter-high block. It is regarded as good luck to circle it three times in a counterclockwise direction.

Bakhautdin Naqshband Mausoleum is part of the Silk Roads Sites in Uzbekistan that was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010. Within the mausoleum complex is a 16th-century domed khanaka, two old mosques and a leaning minaret. There is also a living mulberry tree, where a mullah recites poems for pilgrims, a dead mulberry tree where people make wishes, and small kitchen where wealthy pilgrims have sheep slaughtered to be given to the poor.

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Sheikh Bohoutdin was the great representative of clergy from Nakshbandiy order, was considered as the spiritual patron of Bukhara governors, and died in 1389. That is why his necropolis, which has erected subsequently at his tomb, always was and remains the most esteemed in Uzbekistan and, at present, in the other countries, which practice Islam. Ancient toponymy of this settlement is known under the name Kasri Arifon. The architectural complex consists of several nonsimultaneous constructions. [Source: Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO].

“The most ancient is dahma (gravestone) of Bohoutdin Nakshaband, reveted by marble blocks and enclosed above an openwork marble lattice. The tomb of Bohoutdin is located on the top platform with the marble gravestone and stele. Small khauz (basin) settles down at the north, as reveted by the marble as well. The following site of the complex is Saho-khona, representing quadrangular pavilion of the type of rotunda. A construction of four-arch, flanked on the corners of minaret shaped turrets, which are completed by small domes.

“At the complex, there is a mosque called Khakim Kushbegi, with the flat trabeation, supported by the two columns and forming six painted plafonds. From the south to it adjoins ayvan with five columns and the same amount of painted plafonds. From the northern part is located another ayvan, also with five wooden columns, beam ceiling and vassa.

The mosque of Muzaffarkhan also a component of the complex has bricked walls. Flat beam ceiling supported by the wooden columns and ayvan on the four columns with five various painted plafonds. From the northern part of the mosque, the small minaret constructed from the backed brick with lantern from eight arches towers.

Vobkent Minaret

Vobkent Minaret (70 kilometers north of Bukhara) is a contemporary of the great Kalyan Minaret in Bukhara. Built between 1196 and 1198, it was part of a madrasah and mosque (that have not survived) patronized by a famous Bukharan family of theologians (Sadrs) Abd al-Aziz Sadr. The minaret was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008 and is part of the Silk Roads Sites in Uzbekistan, was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010. .

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “The minaret represents columnar shaped tower. The height of the minaret from the bottom of the socle up to the top of the basic column is equal to 40. 3 meters. The height of 12-cut socle is 2,3 meters. Diameter of the basis of the trunk is 6,19 meters. Diameter of the top of a trunk (under the lantern) is 2,81 meters, diameter of the lantern 3,66 meters, diameter of the basic column is 1,05 meters. The trunk of the minaret has an entasis. [Source: National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO]

“The minaret in Vobkent is similar to the minaret of Kalyan in Bukhara and differs from it with decoration. The zones and edges are sharply dismembered. Here zones of type “maudj” are clearly readable. All of the laying like “maudj” - from pair bricks flat wise, with vertical inserts of the unique paintings. First three strips from below are divided only smooth hem from brick into the edge. Then wide foreparts alternate with narrow paths. The fourth strip contains the historical inscription from which it was established that the minaret is constructed in 593.

The name of the builder is completely specified in the bottom fillet of the inscription. It says: minaret has constructed by the son of Sadr Burhaniddin Muhammad Bukhara Sadr Burkhaniddin Abdalaziz II, son of Sadr Hasanaddin Omar, the son of the founder of Sadr dynasty. The fifth path represents the abstract stylization “under kufi”, the sixth - decorative lattice, the seventh - the prayerful formula, three followings - again lattice. Under the lantern eight-final rectangular stars with inserts from glazed brick, accented from below by the band of pattern “under kufi” are arranged. The third relief inscription from the plates with the handwriting inscription “divoni” is above it. It contains the date of the complement of construction 1198-1199. On the socle, on the parapets and above are continuous laying and groove of openwork painting. ’


Varakhsha (45 kilometers northwest of Bukhara) was the residence of the rulers of Bukhara until the 13th century. The site of ancient settlement was the last station before the eight-day crossing the Kyzylkum desert on the way from Bukhara to Khorezm. Some important battles took place near the city walls. The city ultimately declined due a lack of water for it irrigation systems. The layout of the city consisted of three parts: 1) the Citadel — the palace of the rulers; 2) Shahristan — the center of the city with the houses of rich citizens; and 3) the Rabad — the craft suburb of the city. One building dated to the 11th century consist of three main halls. The walls of the halls were decorated with paintings. A museum was built in 1995. It mainly displays fragments of carved pieces from the palace of rulers. (7th-IX centuries), ceramic products, jewelry (10th and 11th centuries) Address: Bukhara, St. Mehtar Anbar, 177

Varakhsha 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: “Varakhsha is one of the biggest cities located in 45 kilometers from the West of Bukhara, in the bank of abounding in water Rometonrud an ancient stream of Zarafshon River. It was consisted of triangle shape small city- shakriston and fortress connected in the Eastern wall. Some times this city was surrounded by defense ditch filled with flowing water. [Source: National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO]

“The site is surrounded by plumb wall; height of the citadel is 20 meters and remains of shakhriston wall are 10 meters. There are defense forts along Western side of the city distances between of which 30 meter and a place of only gate, where walls of the shakhriston are connected with citadel, could be seen in the East. According to archaeological sources primarily Varakhsha was found as village in IV-III centuries B.C. As mentioned in medieval sources city was residence of the dynasty Bukhorokhudot - governors of Bukhara.

“According to Mukhammad Narshakhiy - historian of Bukhara, Varakhsha more ancient than Bukhara and mentioned Rajfandun - one of the ancient names of the city. Also he wrote that Varakhsha was stable place where lived kings and described beauty of fortress. Here every fifteen days was one-day market and at the end of year, market was lasted twenty days. According to the medieval geographical sources, Varakhsha often mentioned as one of the biggest city along Bukhara - Khorezm trade route. The reason of decay of the city was becoming lower of the water of Zarafshon River and it is fully destruction was connected to conquest of Mongols.

“The ruins of the city became a well-known all over the world. The reason was related with the archeological excavations carried out by archaeologist V. A. Shishkin in the palace of Bukhorokhudot dynasty in 1937-1939 and 1947-1954 years. In the walls of "Red hall" and "Eastern hall" were painted riders on the elephants fighting with mythic predators. Among the wall paintings of the Eastern hall, partly preserved image of sitting king on the throne is merited special attention. Remains of ganch (Uzbek-style stucco) panel in the second floor of the palace are unique as wall paintings. Plantings, human, animals and mythic animals are decorated in it. Many findings excavated here not only present artistic culture of that period but also valuable information on the history of the palace. Varakhsha and Bukhara became large economic and strategic place after the conquest of Arabs. ”

Avicenna Memorial Museum

Abu Ali ibn Sina Memorial Museum (80 kilometers north of Bukhara) is in the village of Afshona, Abu Ali ibn Sina 980 - 1037) was born. Abu Ali ibn Sina (Avicenna is regarded as one of the great Muslim thinkers and scholars of all time. He was a medieval thinker, scholar and encyclopaedist who made contributions to the development of world science and culture in the fields of philosophy, medicine, astronomy, geology, mathematics, physics, linguistics, poetry and music. Charles F. Horne wrote: “Avicenna was a sort of universal genius, known first as a physician. To his works on medicine he afterward added religious tracts, poems, works on philosophy, on logic, as physics, on mathematics, and on astronomy. He was also a statesman and a soldier, and he is said to have died of debauchery. "

The Abu Ali ibn Sino Memorial Museum was opened in 1980 to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the scholar’s birth. The museum is a branch of the Bukhara State Architecture and Art Museum-Reserve founded in 1922. It includes an educational center, a medical college, an information resource center, library, clinic, and a hotel. The museum features more than 400 exhibits of material and spiritual culture associated with the era of Abu Ali ibn Sino and the history of Bukhara 10th and 11th centuries.

Items on display at the museum include: 1) Chess figures of bone. 9th and 10th centuries; 2) A copy of a medieval pharmacy and medical tools from the 7th-8th centuries; 3) Jewelry made of silver and copper 10th and 11th centuries; 4) Bronze products. 10th and 11th centuries. ; 5) Ganche panels from the Samanids Palace in Samarkand. Afrasiab, 9th and 10th centuriesl 6) Latin translation of the “Canon of Medicine”. 1523 year; 7) Risala il Abu Rayhan ba Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Beruni 10751664. Photocopy; 8) Medieval medical instruments used in the East of the 11th century. Reconstruction; 9) Copy of the miniature “Medicine lesson in the presence of Avicenna, Galen and Hippocrates. ” 1461 Paris. Address: Afshona Village, Peshkun District, Bukhara Region


Poykent (60 kilometers southwest of Bukhara) is located on a lower stream of the Zarafshan River and was one of the largest cities of Bukhara the oasis, consisting of a citadel, two settlement areas and a rabad (suburb). In the Middle Ages Paikend had the status of an independent merchant republic, famous for its wealth and handicraft products. Before and after the arrival of the Arabs during the eighth and ninth centuries, its importance as one of the largest centers of caravan trade remained. At the beginning of the 11th century, as a result of a change in the course of the channels of the Zaravshan river, the city lost water and was abandoned.

Poykent 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: According to archaeological research, this place was founded as a small village in the 4th century B.C. and later was transformed into fortress. At that period being as trading place, this city connected Southern countries (Bactria, India, Iran) with Northern countries (Front of Ural, Coast of Volga, Northern Caucus) and Poykent was one of the important military and trade centre of the Western borders of the Sogdia. Due to the development of the Silk Road and joining with Poykent fortress have been founded first and second sites of ancient settlement. Hence was founded the city Poykent. [Source: National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO]

According to Chinese chronicles, this city was under the "An" (Bukhara) kingdom and was the centre of "Bi" khanate. Also was noted that in Poykent was not khokim (governor), the city was ruled by traders' council and in full sense of the word the city was the republic in the VI-7th century. The scientists of Institute of Archaeology of Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan carrying out scientific research in ruins of the city for a long times. As a result, Zoroastrian temples, palace and the mosque, built by 9th century, and remnants of tower were found in citadel. In the inner part of city were discovered defensive walls, gate, roads and remains of quarters (makhallas), while in outside of rabads the city - potter centers and caravanserais. According to the researchers, due to inaccessibility of lower flaw of Zarafshon River, the city seized existence in the middle of the 9th century.

The museum “History of the Paikend Settlement”, which traces the history of the Bukhara oasis since ancient times and the formation of Uzbek statehood, was opened in 2003. It contains of material and artifacts found in Paikend Poykent). The archaeological study of the Paikend oasis was begun in the 1920s and the site has been excavated by archaeologists from Uzbekistan, the Hermitage Museum and the Louvre. Over 10 million objects have been found here. Among those on display at the museum are weapons and ammunition of ancient Sogdian warriors, unique 5th-6th century palace and temple murals, 10th -11th century jewelry, children’s ceramic toys; pharmaceutical, 8th -10th century perfume vessels. silver coins and counterfeit coins with images of the Sassanian king Peroz, who ruled until the 7th century;. Address: Bukhara region, Karakul district, Sayat village

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Uzbekistan Tourism website (National Uzbekistan Tourist Information Center, uzbekistan.travel/en), 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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