Traveling to Samarkand
Traveling from the ancient city of Bukhara (130+ Photos) to Samarkand was easy.
Simply hop in a taxi for about $40 USD for 4 hours.
Upon arriving, you notice that Samarkand is a much more developed city than Bukhara (with Khiva being the least developed, but the most magical).
I stayed in Samarkand for about 3 days, and had a thorough walk around the main historical points in the city.
Where is Samarkand, Uzbekistan?
History of Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Known as Maracanda in the 4th century BCE, Samarkand is one of the oldest and most grandiose cities in Human history. Samarkand means ‘Stone' (asmara) and ‘fort' (kand) in the old Sogdian language.
By 329 BCE, Samarkand was conquered by Alexander ‘the Great', and eventually the Turks by the 6th century, the Arabs by the 8th century, the Samanids (Iranians) from the 9th-10th century, and again various Turkic tribes from the 11th-13th century.
By 1220 CE, Samarkand was completely annihilated by the mongol empire, the city completely destroyed, and the people either enslaved or killed.
By 1365, Samarkand revolted against Mongol rule, and was taken by Amir Timur (Tamerlane) the conqueror.
Amir Timur and his sons and grandsons made Samarkand into the most important economic, cultural, and religious city in central asia.
Samarkands importance was amplified by its location on the crossroads from China into Europe along the silk road.
But by the 16th century, the city was captured by the Uzbek people, and became part of the Bukhara Khanate (empire).
Due to constant tribal in-fighting and the advancements of ship technology, the ancient silk road became an impractical and unsafe method of transporting goods.
So, from 1720, Samarkand became a ruinous wasteland dotted by ancient architecture, with no one living there.
By 1865, the Russian empire had captured Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand, and ran a railroad next to the city by 1888, at which point economic and cultural activities resumed.
From 1924-1934, the soviets had recaptured most territories of the old Russian empire, and made Samarkand the capital of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic.
The beauty of Samarkand falls unto its gigantic 14-20th century Madrassahs, mosques and tombs that were built during the empire of Amir Timur and his children.
Thus, most of the city converges onto the tombs and mosques due to their historical significance.
For a more thorough understanding of Amir Timur (Tamerlane), check out my post about Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Adventure Photos of Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Other sections of the cemetery start to show a higher socio-economic demographic, with slightly more expensive looking tombstones and setups. Samarkand cemetery
The several gigantic madrassas, and the cemetery were definitely the most intriguing elements of Samarkand.
I walked around most of the city, without having much information of what I was looking at. Using Wikipedia and Google was the best option in filling in the historical ambiguity.
And as always, the food in Uzbekistan is absolutely amazing.
While the game plan was to continue into my final destination: Tajikistan, I had a change of heart.
Instead, after 3 days in Samarkand, I decided to return to Canada to invest some money into a few projects that could only be done by being in Canada – so I bought a $560 USD flight ticket, from Samarkand, back to Toronto (50 hours of flight time and airport time).
Overall, I highly recommend visiting Uzbekistan for the food, the amazing architecture, and discovering the history of central asia (especially since most history classes in the western world are Euro-centric).
Finally, there will be a language barrier if you don't speak Russian or the local dialects (Tajik, Uzbek), so keep that in mind. So if you don't speak one of those dialects, I recommend a tour guide, or the ability to learn a few sentences for the necessary elements.