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Bukhara City Guide | Uzbekistan Private Guide

Top attractions, monuments, museums & things to do in Bukhara. Your online private guide to discover the best of Uzbekisan.

Bukhara has many faces and that`s why it is called multifaceted city. It is attributed to a variety of epithets - "Sacred Bukhara", "Wise Bukhara," "Blessed Bukhara", "Scholastic Bukhara", but probably the most faithful and accurate is the "Noble Bukhara". Nobility of this city is traced in everything – in the age-old monuments of architecture, ancient streets, tall minarets and the Bukharians faces, their gait and manners. Over the city there soars special atmosphere in which the sacrament of an antiquity and precipitancy of the present are weaved. Each of numerous medieval monuments of Bukhara attracts crowd of tourists, pilgrims and simply connoisseurs of this beauty.

Monument & Attractions of Bukhara:

Bolo Khauz Mosque

Citadel Ark

Poi Kalon Complex

Gaukushan Complex

Lyabi Khauz Complex

Mosque Magoki Attori

Mausoleum of Samanids

Sitorai Mokhi Khosa

Kosh Madrasah

Madrasa Chor Minor

Madrasah AbdulazizKhan & Ulugh Beg

Chashmai Ayyub Mausoleum

Mausoleum of Naqshbandi

Gijduvan Ceramics

Minaret Vobkent

And it seems that all monuments are studied by scientists and considered by gapers up and down. But each person finds here something special and feelings experienced at these tiles and stones are incomparable with the brightest emotions, after all in them all wisdom of the world and power of a human civilization are hidden.

The found objects allow to define the time fraction they belong to: pottery, fireplaces, coins with images engraved on them and inscriptions, jewelry, handicraft tools - everything that characterizes activity and culture of human society.

Especially powerful there were bottom layers of the antique period (the III-IV centuries BC - IV century AD); the top layers remained from the medieval city of IX - the beginning of the XX centuries. Thus, the age of Bukhara dates back at least to 2500 years, as well as that of Samarkand. However locals are convinced that she is at least 3000 years old and insist on continuing excavation to help find real evidence of this.

Due to one of versions the name of the city occurs from "vikhara" that means a Buddhist monastery. The word "Bukhara" occurs from "bukhar" that in language of magicians means "a source of knowledge". This word, close to the word of idolaters of Uyguriya and Katay (China) due to which the temple was a place (storage) of idols and was called Bukhar. The real name of the city was Lumjikat, - - says the chronicler of Bukhara Hafizi Tanysh' (XVI century).

Since ancient times Bukhara was the center of a set of religions, there lived Zoroastrians, idolaters, Christians, Manicheans, and Buddhists. However at the end of the IX century the city became one of the major cultural and religious centers of the Muslim world, it was called "the Dome of Islam". Till today, there remained many mosques, tombs, madrassahs.

Overall, the total number of monuments monumental public and residential architecture (over 4000) Bukhara is widely regarded as the biggest in Central Asia, an open air museum.

Among the most ancient monuments of Bukhara are fortifications and the gate of the city. The site of fortress reached up to our days with huge breaches. The remains of a wall are a unique monument of defensive system of Central Asia. Its fragments testify that it was the impregnable fortification construction intended for defense of the city during the endless feudal wars.

On outer side of the wall buttresses in the form of semi-towers which were built to fit into the rhythm of the city gate tower built of burnt bricks. Washed top of the wall bears traces of a gear parapet with loopholes at the level of a breast of a shooter behined whom there was a shooting gallery. The sandy pillow and here and there fieldstone masonry formed the basis of a wall. The length of the existing segment the wall is up to 4 km with the height up to 11 meters.

When specifying the date of emerging this defensive system, the majority of sources refer to work of Narshakhi "The History of Bukhara" (X century) according to which the first walls of shahristan were put during Takhirid`s, the Arab viceroys in the VIII century. The territory of the thriving city was considerably extended and was enclosed with a new rectangle of the walls which have captured both Ark, and early medieval shahristan (downtown) in 849/50 AD. Then these walls already decayed to the XII century were reinforced with new raw rampart during Qarakhanid ruler ArsIan Khan (1102-1130).

The new shaft of burnt brick girded Bukhara in 1164/65 during the rule of Masoud Klych Tamghachi Khan. Both shafts that have become unusable, were restored at the beginning of the XIII century (1207/08) at the rule of Khorezmshakh Mohammed, but in 1220 they were destroyed during the Mongolian invasion by armies of Chingiz Khan. Sources and monuments testify to its revival in the middle of the XIII century.

The next ring of walls surrounded suburbs in 1540-49 years. when Abdal-Aziz Khan I ruled there.

In the area the Arch, in southwest part of the city, still it is possible to see majestic massifs of medieval fortifications at the bottom which recreation park city stretches now.

The oldest monument of Bukhara is the Ark - the citadel and residence of Bukhara Rulers. According to archaeological data this structure refers to the III century B.C. According to archaeological data this structure refers to the III century B.C. The chronicle of the city narrates about numerous cycles of destruction and revival of the fortress, of its assaults and sieges.

For many centuries on the site of Arch (Ark) there formed 18 meters high artificial hill, the upper layer of which was built up during the last Bukharan Emirs (Rulers). Stackable on each other walls turned into colorful pise-walled adobe facing of the hill.

Ark contained a whole city and consisted of courtyards and patios closely fused with each other and with the State Chancellery, housing of Emir and his wives, his relatives and dignitaries of the royal court. Inside the trapezoidal contour of fortifications construction was rectangular with traditional cross intersection of the main streets oriented to the cardinal. Between them there housed Emir`s residence- salomkhana, the Audience Hall - korunishkhana, police department, stables, innumerable warehouses with clothes, carpets, utensils, treasures, weapons, and besides, prison, mint, mosques, shrines, and jewelry shops and other buildings.

Ark Gates called Reghistan are facing the Square in the west. They were built in the XVIII century in the form of massive portal with powerful two-link towers on either sides from the Arch passage, to which rather long sloping boardwalk - Takhtapul led from the Square, thrown over the moat with water.

From the gate of the Arch on the surface level of the XX century steeply ramp - a dark, gloomy vaulted corridor leads up to the inside fortress.

The portal of gate is crowned with trellised arch gallery behind which the musical pavilion - naghorahana is hidden; it is the two tiers of windows hall enclosed with gallery. It housed the orchestra performing music - poppy melodies - maqom during the day by which city residents traditionally determined time.

From the terrace of the musical pavilion, naghorahana young princes used to watch the festivities and executions in the square in front of the Ark. The Audience Hall of Emir - korunishkhana was a paved courtyard surrounded by terraces on three sides’ on slender wooden columns. In depth on the longitudinal axis of the courtyard in a deep recess – shahnishin (Shah`s corner), there the throne of the Ruler was mounted, a marble ottoman made by Nurata masters in 1669. The Emir would to sit on it under the wooden painted valance mounted on carved marble columns.

Right before the exit from the canopy to the Arсh the terrace of the Cathedral Mosque is seen, which was built up as large quarterly mosque where the four-columned winter lounge surrounded on three sides by terraces. Interior decoration is characteristic to late XIX and early XX, the last repair works were performed here under the Emir Alim Khan (in 1910-20) with the participation of famous Uzbek folk masters Usto Shirin Muradov, according to the authors of the book "Bukhara, the Museum under open air".

At the entrance to the Arc clustered are the Arsenal, the chancellery of Commander-in-chief - Kushbegi, as well as, a large quarterly mosque Poyanda, mosques of craft shops of guilds of craftsmen, Madrassah of butchers` shop - Bozori Gusfand. There was also a hospital – dar-ash-shifa where skilled doctors treated patients (medical) by potion and food.

Opposite the Arch the only survived monument of Reghistan, a complex Bolo-house of XVIII century with memorable and magnificently painted multicolumn terrace is located.

To the west of the Arch is located Reghistan Square which appeared here in the pre-Arab times and served as a social center of the city: to the XIII century it was built up with administrative buildings and palaces of the nobility, and later it was filled by the market constructions.

In view of the fact that Reghistan was most visited place the enforcement of sentences were carried out and criminals were executed there.

Not far from Reghistan there shines a pearl of the Central Asian architecture - the Mausoleum of Samanid`s, a family Sanctuary of the Rulers of the local dynasty which had claimed in Transoxiana a State actually independent of the Caliphate.

Freed from the two-meter-thick layers and fully restored, it is again available to the review from four sides as it was originally conceived by its ingenious author. This monument marks the beginning of a new era in development of the Central Asian architecture revived after the Arab conquest. Obviously, the ancient land of ancient traditions continued to develop its architectural trends but in a new quality: machinery construction of brick, its design and artistic possibilities, architectural expression means the merit of the new time, although still carry the familiar "symbolic system" derived from pre-Islamic culture.

Cubic form is topped with the dwarfish arch gallery getting around on top which has imprinted in a stone an arcade of ancient famous paintings by the pre-Arab monuments (Penjikent), funeral Kedah - hearse in which deceased would be forwarded to a burial place. The walls of the mausoleum inside and outside revetted with figured brickwork of alternating columns by horizontally laid bricks and vertical insertions create delicate ornamental motif plaiting.

Samanid Mausoleum is deservedly considered a masterpiece of Central Asian architecture; a rare architectonics has been achieved in it which is the unity of architectural and artistic designs in the construction. It is believed that the Mausoleum is able to grant the most cherished desires. For this one has to get around it three times with pure heart and thoughts.

On the way to exit from the park where the Samanids` dynasty tomb is located there is one more interesting monument - Chashma-i-Ayub (that is "the well of Job")a complex, rebuilt several times during the XIV-XIX centuries. Monument eventually accepted form of an elongated prism topped with domes of various forms over the premises of various sizes and shapes.


It is the multi-chamber mausoleum which includes facilities for temporary housing, accommodating pilgrims and serving ritual meals, which makes it related to buildings like dervish convents - khanaka.

In the same area there is one of the most attractive ensembles of "kosh-Madrassah", a building of higher educational institution. "Kosh" - means "double".

The first of them Madrassah Modar-i Khon constructed by Abdullakhan II on behalf of his mother. Construction date is 974 Hijra (1566/67 AD) is indicated in the verse by majolica inscription over the entrance. Structurally it is a "standard" educational institution with a hostel for students and teachers around the yard, public halls of a mosque and auditoriums - дарсхана in entrance part of the building on both sides from a portal.

The second building - the Madrassah of Abdallakh Khan built in 1588-90 - one of outstanding works of the Central Asian architecture. Here the hand of the courageous master is felt. The author departs from the canonical symmetric circuit layouts, pushing huge volumes beyond the rectangular outline of the building, introducing new forms into habitual composition.

Such innovation is the spacious hall with two rows of windows through the central axis of the courtyard known as "fonusi Abdallah khan" - "Abdallah Khan's lantern". In the thick of residential quarters one of pearls of Bukhara - Khoja Zaynutdin Encemble is hidden.

It belongs to the first half of the XVI century and constructed on the bank of the oldest surviving in Bukhara pools (water reservoirs). Walls of this pool are revetted with marble. In a southeast corner at descending stairs to water the marble carved weir in the form of an open mouth of the dragon-azhdarho rimmed in
ornament and epigraphy.

The monumental combines the functions of a quarterly Mosque, that of Khanaka and the mausoleum: burial is made in one of niches of a lateral façade. A painted columned terrace leads to spacious domed hall.

One of the major ensembles of the city center is Khoja Gavkushon Ensemble. The ensemble adopted its name from the location: Gavkushon means "slaughter of cattle" for a slaughter settled down there before the construction of the Ensemble.

The Madrassah Gavkushon was constructed in 1570 on a fork of streets which explains its trapezoidal shape, which, however, has not prevented to preserve the traditional domestic layout. In 1598 in some distance to the width of streets from the north Sheikh of Juyi Barr Khoja Kalon built a Friday Mosque Juma and called it "Khoja Mosque". As ins foundation there is the yard surrounded with arcades with domes on brick columns, with Maksura - the main building before Mikhrab - Altar. Between the buildings there erected a slender brick minaret reflected in the waters of the Pool. The mosque and Madrassah are built in forms and designscharacteristic for the XVI century.

As the creed of Bukhara lures the travelers another triad of the most outstanding creations of architecture: Ensemble Poi Kalon, meaning "at the foothill of the Grand". It consists of the Minaret Kalon, Mosque Kalon and Madrassah Miri Arab.

Dominantof the Ensemble is Minaret Kalon (Minar-yi- Kalon) which is a gigantic vertical pillar dominating over the city.

According to an inscription in turquoise majolica found under the eaves of the lamp of Minaret Kalon established that it was completed in 1127. At half height of the trunk the name Arslan Khan can be read. There also found the name of the master - Baqo burial place of whom locals point among the neighboring houses. Master Baqo built a characteristic minaret for Transoxiana a brick tower in the form of round trunk narrowing upwards; its diameter in the bottom - 9 m, on the top - 6 m, the height is 45,6 m.

The last construction of the building of the Cathedral Mosque Kalon (Masjid-i-Kalon) completed in 1514. Its arches can accommodate up to 12,000 people. This Jami Mosque is equal on the scale to Bibi-Khanum Mosque in Samarkand..

It should be said that today travelers can relax and eat Bukhara meals at the edge of Labi-Hauz full of fish and ducks, ready to eat up your leftovers from your table.

Stories about Bukhara can take days and weeks. Each monument is a separate, an epic story grandeur of which deserves multivolume books. It is necessary to feel Bukhara, adjoin to it, to catch its taste, a smell. This city makes you fall in love with itself without the slightest efforts. Its beauty doesn't need to be exaggerated or to be described in the bright colors, after all each its stone speaks out louder than thousands words. Mysterious Bukhara , sacred Bukhara, alluring Bukhara and even the air is different here because it keeps a history of centuries and who knows what awaits us after a new turn.



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