Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. Uzbekistan is bordered by five countries: Kazakhstan and the Aral Sea to the north, Tajikistan to the southeast, Kyrgyzstan to the northeast, Afghanistan to the south and Turkmenistan to the southwest.
One of the world’s oldest inhabited cities, Samarkand is Uzbekistan’s second-largest and most famous city. The capital of the Samarqand Province in eastern Uzbekistan, Samarkand is most noted as an important cultural crossroads due to its central location on the Silk Road, which linked China to the West. While evidence of human settlement here dates back to 1500 BC, the city developed significantly during the Temurid period between the 14th and 15th centuries, serving as a chief center for Islamic study.
As a result of the city’s long and eventful history, it is teeming in historic sites that include complexes of mausoleums, Islamic schools and mosques known for their glazed tilework, mosaics and art works. Most notable of these are Shirdor Medrese, Gur Emir Mausoleum, Bibi-Khanym Mosque and Shakhi-Zinda Ensemble. The city square, Registan Ensemble, is also surrounded by impressive architecture of these historic mosques and medreses, or Islamic schools.
Other monuments of significant interest include the Tomb of the Hebrew Prophet Daniel, Ulugbek’s Observatory and Afrosiab, an excavated archaeological site of an ancient city.
In addition to historic architecture, Samarkand boasts a number of museums, souvenir shops and markets selling fresh produce, handicrafts, silks and carpets. Food choices are abundant from pizzas and burgers to Indian cuisine and local specialties like Samarkand Non, a tasty bread. Because Samarkand is a conservative city, the nightlife scene is not as plentiful as some major cities, but there are some bars, jazz clubs and discos.