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Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Founded in the 6th Century BC, Samarkand’s stunning architecture hints at its former status as one of the most important cities in Asia. This ancient oriental beauty was the junction of the Silk Road trade route that brought together India, China and the West. Its city center, that is about the same age as Rome or Babylon, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Samarkand means “Stone Fort” in Persian, and the town is still well-recognized today by its gorgeous medieval architecture. Among the city’s most significant sites is Registan Square. Located nearby is the Gur Emir mausoleum that dates back to 1404. The most spectacular of its tombs is king Amir Timur’s tomb that stands out with its marvelous design.

The refined elegance of the beautifully proportioned Bibi Khanum Mosque is another gem of Samarkand. The mosque was built by architects from India in 1404 in honor of Timur’s wife. A chronicler relates that 95 elephants hauled construction material for the building.

Undoubtedly, the Ulag Beg observatory, one of the earliest Islamic astronomical observatories built in 1428, is worth a visit. The big circular building decorated with mosaics, tiles, marble and majolica is thought to have been one of the best observatories in the Islamic world. What is more, Samarkand was considered the center of Islamic culture, economy and education.

Walking down the divine streets of Samarkand, one of Central Asia’s oldest inhabited cities, is like travelling back in time.

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Samarkand, Uzbekistan

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Samarkand, Uzbekistan

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