Ark is an ancient citadel and the palace of the emirs of Bukhara. As the main official residence of rulers of Bukhara it has always been seen as the symbol of power and honor of the emirs. Sometimes, a giant whip was hanging on the walls of the citadel as a sign of power and strict rules.
Occupying nearly 4 hectares, it was home to more than 3000 people. The constructions of the palace included the palace of the rulers, homes for generals and prime minister, harem, reception hall, greetings hall, craft workshops etc.
The palace is 1500 years old and has been destroyed and reconstructed several times. The Arabs destroyed it in the 7-8th centuries and then the citadel was reconstructed before being damaged by Genghis Khan and Russian in the 13th and 19th centuries. Nearly 80 percent of the constructions of Ark do not exist anymore. For the last time in the 1920s the Bolsheviks decided to punish this most renowned Silk Road city of Central Asia and the city was bombed. According to historians the city was under fire for 3 days.
The visitors can enter the palace from its west gate. This gate was built in 1742 by Iranian ruler Nadir Shah. Nadir Shah built this gate to compensate lots of destructions he’d made in the city. The second gate (Kalon) offered direct access to the mosque Kalon but due to battles with enemies this gate had been destroyed. The emirs have decided to have only one gate which helped them to protect the city easier.
What to see in the Ark Citadel
Fortunately, all these natural and human-made disasters could not destroy the city completely and some of the main monuments of Medieval Bukhara have been restored and are open for the visitors.