Briefly about Samarkand

Samarkand - one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, comfortably located in the flourishing valley of the Zeravshan River. It is one of the three largest and most populous cities of Uzbekistan, yielding the palm only to the capital Tashkent and Namangan. For centuries, Samarkand was a key point of the Great Silk Road and served as a crossroads of cultures of East and West. The great architects of the past centuries erected magnificent structures here. The uniqueness and value of the perfectly preserved architectural ensembles of the city is eloquently evidenced by their status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Briefly about Samarkand

Samarkand, which belongs to the number of the most ancient cities of human civilization, has more than once been crowned with the diadem of the capital of many states and even huge empires over the millennia of its existence. Its mighty walls were besieged by the armies of great conquerors from all over the world - the Persian ruler Cyrus, the Greek Alexander the Great, the Mongol Khagan Genghis Khan, the Russian Emperor Alexander II.

Today Samarkand, hiding the wise smile of the patriarch who has seen a lot, has turned into a lively center of international tourism. Every year, hundreds of thousands of travelers come here to plunge into the exotic atmosphere of the East and see luxurious architectural monuments famous throughout the world.

History of Samarkand

The founding date of Samarkand remains controversial. It is customary to count the history of the city from 750 BC. e .: it is known that already in the VIII century BC. e. here stood the walls of Afrasiab - the fortified capital of the historical region of Sogdiana. Around the same time, Rome was founded on the Apennine Peninsula, and the first Olympic Games were held in Ancient Greece.

The foreseeable written history of the blessed Sogdiana is told in the collection of sacred texts of the Zoroastrians - the Avesta. The creation of this collection dates back to 1200-800 BC. Afrasiab was known to ancient Greek geographers as Marakanda. The very name of the city in the Sogdian language meant "Stone fortress", there are other versions. In the VI century BC. e. Samarkand entered the vast empire of the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great, which stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to India. The Ahmenid dynasty founded by Cyrus was crushed by Alexander the Great. His troops took Samarkand in 329 BC. e. Over the following centuries, the city was ruled by the rulers of the Hellenistic states that arose from the collapsed empire of Alexander, then by the Persians and the Turks. Among the motley multinational population of the city, communities professed Zoroastrianism and Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, Judaism and Manichaeism coexisted.

The Islamic era in the history of the ancient region of Sogdiana began at the beginning of the 8th century, when the troops of the Arab Umayyad Caliphate captured Bukhara, Khorezm, and then Samarkand. This region became known as Maverannahr. Most of the population accepted the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, the temples of the old gods were destroyed. Instead, mosques and madrasahs were built. Samarkand has become one of the largest centers of Islamic science and culture. Famous medieval scientists, doctors, artists, musicians, philosophers and poets lived and worked here. Let's name only the most famous names: Abulkasim Firdousi, Abdurahman Jami, Abu Abdullah Rudaki, Omar Khayyam.

For more than two thousand years, Samarkand has been a key city in trade between the civilizations of East and West. Here, in the valley of the Zeravshan River, the main routes of the Great Silk Road converged. Most merchants did not travel the entire Silk Road, which stretched for many thousands of kilometers. Caravans went from oasis to oasis, from city to city, where merchants sold their goods at local bazaars. New caravans formed there, heading further west. Repeatedly resold Chinese silks and porcelain vases, precious weapons from India, incense from Arabia, spices from Southeast Asia, gems, jewelry and other treasures became more and more expensive. The largest market within Central Asia was located in Samarkand.

Sights of Samarkand

There are not too many cities in Central Asia that can compete with Samarkand in terms of the number of wonderful historical monuments. However, all the architectural masterpieces of the early Middle Ages that delighted contemporaries were destroyed by the troops of Genghis Khan, who captured Samarkand in 1220 and betrayed it to fire and sword. Clay bricks, from which the buildings of the city were erected, crumbled to dust in conflagrations. But to the north-east of the modern central regions, well-marked traces of palaces and residential areas that died in the 13th century still remain under the sediments of the earth. Here is the world-famous archaeological site, covering about 200 hectares, the excavated ruins of ancient Afrasiab. The streets paved with stone, the foundations of mighty walls and towers, palaces, public buildings, craft workshops have been cleared. Research began at the end of the century before last. Weapons, coins, jewelry, ceramics were found here. On the walls of the ruins, wonderful frescoes of the 6th-7th centuries have been preserved. You can get acquainted with the finds of archaeologists thanks to the exposition of the museum built on the territory of the excavations. FEZ Urgut

In the northern part of the ancient settlement, see a marvelous place resembling the scenery of an oriental fairy tale - the Shakhi Zinda architectural complex, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. This is a whole quarter of mosques and mausoleums built from the 11th to the 19th centuries. Famous rulers, scientists, theologians are buried here. The Shakhi Zinda complex houses the oldest building in Samarkand that has come down to us unchanged - the tomb of Kusam ibn Abbas, dating back to 1334. From earlier buildings, only the foundations and tombstones have been preserved. The buildings, decorated with glazed majolica, are connected by arched galleries with graceful domes. Among them is the mausoleum of Khoja Donier (Saint Daniel). According to legend, part of the remains of the biblical prophet Daniel, who interpreted prophetic dreams of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, is kept here. Tamerlane himself brought the relics to his capital from the conquered city of Susa. At the mausoleum there is a source of holy water. They say that he splashed from under the hoof of Tamerlane's horse, carrying a casket with the ashes of the prophet, and the royal horseman ordered to build a crypt right here. Pilgrims professing Christianity, Islam and Judaism come here from all over the world - the prophet Daniel is revered in all three world religions. The mausoleum is open for visits from 09:00 to 17:00, the entrance ticket will cost 10,000 soums.

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