TOUR 9 DAYS TO UZBEKISTAN
2 nights in Tashkent – Tashkent Palace 4****
2 nights in Khiva – Asia Khiva 3***
2 nights in Bukhara – Asia Bukhara 4****
2 nights in Samarkand – Hotel Diyora 4****
HOME – TASHKENT (flight + 10 km)
Departure from home with TURKISH AIRLINES via Istanbul or AEROFLOT via Moscow and overnight on board. Early morning arrival in Tashkent. Meet guide of your group, transfer to hotel (10 km) and overnight.
TASHKENT – URGENCH – KHIVA (excursion + flight + 35 km)
Breakfast. “Check out” hotel. Transfer to the north-east part of Tashkent, that’s ancient part called as ‘old city’. Excursion in the city visiting: ‘Khasti-Imom’ complex: madrassa, mosque, mausoleum & museum of the Holy Koran. Mausoleum of Kaffol Shoshiy (903-976), Madrassa of Barakkhan (XVI cen.), was one of the most popular Koranik school, today is center of craftmen. Museum of Moyi Mubarek is very interesting sacred place, where Holy Koran – Osman’s Koran (VII cen.). Mosque Tilla Sheikh (1890 y.) is functioning mosque, where Muslims pray five times a day. Transfer to Bazar Chorsu, visit market of local people, it exists since ancient times and considered as the most beautiful market in Tashkent and is full of people every day. Excursion in Friday Mosque Khodja Akhror Vali (XV cen.), which was built in 1451, centuries ago was very famous; beginning of the XX century mosque was closed. Now it is open for Muslims after restorations. Madrassa Kukaldosh (XVI cen.) was built in 1561. It is operational Madrassa in Tashkent only for boys (not girls) as Muslims high school & 400 students are taught there. Transfer to Museum of Applied Arts, which was built (the end of the XIX century) by Russian ambassador Plovsev, who used it as his residence. It exists as museum since 1937. Transfer to airport & departure for Urgench with local flight HY-1057 (18:40 – 20:20). Arrival in Urgench & transfer to Khiva (35 km). Dinner and overnight in the hotel.
After breakfast in the hotel we start full day city tour of Khiva – one of the most fascinating cities in the region. Its facilities are in Arabic style with color ranging from light blue to turquoise; there remained virtually intact since the sixteenth century. A traditional story attributes the name to one of the sons of Noah: “It is said that Shem, after the flood, he found himself wandering in the desert alone. Having fallen asleep, he dreamt of 300 burning torches. Once woke up, he was pleased with this omen, he founded the city with outlines in the form of a ship mapped out according to the placement of the torches, about which he had dreamt. It is possible to see this well in Ichan-Kala (an internal town of Khiva City) even today. There are 4 gates and walls with length 2500 meters. Madrassa Mukhammad Amin Khan (XIX century) was the biggest madrassah, there were 125 rooms for 250 students. Minaret – Kalta Minor (XIX cen.) is very interesting historical monument, it had to be highest, but the owner of minaret died when it was 28 meters. Konya Ark was the residence of governors between XVII and XIX century. Madrassah Mukhammad Rakhim Khan II was built in 1871, was closed in the beginning of the XX century. The Mausoleum of Pakhlavan Makhmud (XIX cen.), is the most sacred mausoleum of Khiva. He was poet and sufi (1247-1325), on his tomb the mausoleum with dome (XIV century) was built, but later destroyed. In 1913 there was built a new complex. Madrassah, Minaret & First Russian School were built by Islam Khodja (was Prime Minister) in 1910, when he was Prime Minister of Khiva. From that time till today Islam Khodja’s Minaret is the highest minaret of Uzbekistan (57 meters). Nowadays his Madrassah is Museum of Applied Arts & his Russian School is museum of old photos. The large Friday Mosque is famous for its 218 wooden columns supporting its roof – a concept thought to be derived from ancient Arabian mosques. Six or seven of the columns dates back to the 10th-century mosque (see if you can spot them), though the present building dates back to the 18th century. Inside it, you can climb over the very dark stairway up to the pigeon-poop-splattered gallery of the 47m Friday Minaret. There are also museum of music, museum of nature, museum of art & center of silk – it is sponsored by the consulate of the United Kingdom (is located in Tashkent). All museums & centers are located in the Madrassah of nineteenth century. Close the door of the citadel there are white mosque and turkish bath, which were built by Anush Khan in the XVII century. Our visit in Khiva ends with complex of ‘Tash Hovli’ (Stone Home). Palace Tash Hovli served as the summer residence of Khan Allakuli and it was completely built by the end of the XIX century. According to the structure of the palace, there are 150 rooms and three separate courtyards leading to the guest part, to the courtroom and to the harem. With great beauty and decorated rooms are designed for wives and concubines of the ruler. Recurring ornaments, painted ceilings, majolica panels, and exquisite carving and tracery windows with grilles make the palace Tash Hovli as a gem of ancient architecture. Dinner at local restaurant & overnight in the hotel.
KHIVA – BUKHARA (480 km)
Breakfast. Transfer to Bukhara (480 km). Our route goes crossing the Amu-Darya River and the Red Desert (Kyzilkum). In Uzbekistan there are two great rivers: the Amu-Darya (in classical Greek known as the Oxus) and the Syr-Darya (known as Jaxartes or Yaxartes by the Greeks). Amu Darya flows through Turkmenistan from south to north, passing Turkmenabad and marking the border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan from Khalkabad. The Kyzylkum Desert, it is the 16th largest desert in the world. Its name means Red Sand in Turkish languages. It is located in Central Asia, in the territory between two rivers. Today it is divided between Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and (partly) Turkmenistan. It covers about 298,000 km2. Bukhara – is the city, which is important for country’s economy with its mineral deposits, particularly gold, uranium, aluminum, copper, silver, oil and natural gas. Located on the Silk Road, the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. During the golden age of the Samanids in the 9th and 10th centuries, Bukhara became the intellectual center of the Islamic world and therefore, at that time, of the world itself. UNESCO has listed the historic center of Bukhara, which contains numerous mosques and madrassahs, as one of the World Heritage Sites. Arrival in Bukhara and hotel accommodation. Free time. Dinner at local restaurant & overnight in the hotel.
Breakfast. Excursion in the historic center of Bukhara – functioned as one of the main centers of Persian civilization since its early days in the VI century BC – Turkish speakers gradually moved in from the VI century AD. The city’s architectural and archaeological sites form one of the pillars of Central Asian history and art. The mausoleum of Samanids is located in the historical urban nucleus of the city of Bukhara, in a park laid out on the site of an ancient cemetery. This mausoleum, which is one of the most esteemed sights of Central Asian architecture, was built in the IX (X) century (between 892 and 943) as the resting-place of Ismail Samani – a powerful and influential amir of the Samanid dinasty who held the city in the IX and X centuries. Mausoleum of Chashma-i Ayub is located near the Samani Mausoleum. Its name means Job‘s well, due to the legend in which Job (Ayub) visited this place and made a well by striking the ground with his staff. The water of this well is still pure and is considered healing. The current building was constructed during the reign of Timur and features a Khwarazm-style conical dome uncommon in Bukhara. The Mosque of Bolo Khauz is situated opposite to The Ark, where the emirs worshiped. It was built in 1718 with a roof extension supported by karagachi (a rare sycamore-like wood) pillars in the XIX century. The west side is reflected in the XVI century khauz (pool). The Ark of Bukhara is a massive fortress located in the city of Bukhara, that was initially built and occupied around the V century AC. In addition to being a military structure, the Ark encompassed what was essentially a town, during much of the fortress’ history, it was inhabited by the various royal courts that held sway over the region surrounding Bukhara. The Ark was used as a fortress until 1920. The square of Poi Kalyan (means “The Foot of the Great”), is an Islamic religious complex located around the Grand Minaret. The complex is located in the historic part of the city. Since 713, several ensembles of main mosques were built in this area, to the south of the Ark citadel. One of these complexes, burned down by Genghis Khan during the siege of Bukhara, was built in 1127 by the Karakhanid ruler Arslan-khan. The Grand Minaret is the only one of the structures of Arslan-han complex that was kept safe during that siege. Minaret is known more properly as Minora-i Kalon (“Grand Minaret”). The Grand Mosque (Masjid-i Kalon) was completed in 1514.It is equal in size to the Bibi-Khanym Mosque in Samarkand. Although they are both mosques, they are very different in architectural styles. The roof of the galleries encircling the mosque’s inner courtyard has 288 domes resting on 208 pillars. Facing the courtyard there is a tall tiled aiwan portal. The mosque is surmounted by a large blue tiled dome. The Madrassah of Mir-i-Arab is devoted to Sheikh Abdullah Yamani of Yemen. Also called Mir-i-Arab, he was considered the spiritual mentor of Ubaidullah Khan and his son Abdulaziz Khan. Ubaidullah Khan waged a successful war against Iran. At least three times his troops seized Herat. Each plundering raid on Iran resulted in the capture of a great many captives. The money, which Ubaidullah Khan earned from selling three thousand Persian captives, funded in the construction of Mir-i-Arab Madrassa. Ubaidullah Khan was very religious. Taqi Sarrafon – bazar of the moneychangers, Taqi-Telpak Furushon – bazar of the cap makers, Taqi-Zaragon – bazar of the jewelers. Ulugbek’s Madrassa is one of Central Asia’s architectural highlights, built by Ulugbek in 1417, sober and strictly proportioned. Astral elements predominate in its ornamentation and inscription sums up Ulugbek’s life philosophy: “Pursuit of knowledge is the duty of each follower of Islam, man and woman”. Abdulaziz Khan’s Madrassah is located opposite Ulugbek’s Madrassah. The Astrakhanid ruler began its construction in 1652, but the decoration left unfinished when he was driven away by the first of the Mangit emirs. The Mosque of Magoki Attori was constructed on the remains of an older Zoroastrian temple. It was destroyed and rebuilt more than once, and the oldest part now remaining is the south facade, which dates from the XII century, one of the oldest surviving structures in Bukhara. Lower than the surrounding ground, it was excavated in 1935. It is no longer used as a mosque and now it is a carpet museum. The Lab-i Hauz Ensemble (meaning by the pond 1568–1622) is the name of the area surrounding one of the few remaining hauz (ponds) in the city of Bukhara. Until the Soviet period there were many such ponds, which were the city’s principal source of water, but they were notorious for spreading disease and were mostly filled in during the 1920s and 1930s. The Lab-i Hauz survived because it is the centerpiece of a magnificent architectural ensemble, created during the XVI and XVII centuries, which has not been significantly changed since then. The Lab-i Hauz Ensemble, surrounding the pond on three sides, consists of the Kukeldash Madrassa (1568–1569), the largest in the city, and of two religious edifices built by Nadir Divan-Beghi: khanaka (1620) or lodging-house for itinerant Sufis and madrassah (1622) that stand on the west and east sides of the pond respectively. There is also an interesting metal sculpture of Khodja Nasriddin, the quick-witted and warm-hearted man, who forms the central character of many children’s folk stories in the Central Asian and Indian subcontinent, sitting atop his mule with one hand on his heart and the other with an ‘All OK’ sign above his head. Dinner at local restaurant & overnight in the hotel.
BUKHARA – SHAKHRISABZ – SAMARCANDA (270 km + excursion + 140 km)
Breakfast, transfer to Shakhrisabz (270 km). It means city of green or verdant city. It is a city in southern Uzbekistan located in the southern part of Samarkand. It was a major city of Central Asia, it is primarily known today as the birthplace of 14th-century Turk-Mongol conqueror Timur. Shahrisabz was the birthplace of Timur on April 9, 1336, who was born in the family of a minor local chief, and during the early years of the Timurids’ Dinasty, enjoyed its considerable patronage. Timur regarded Shahrisabz as his “home town” and planned it eventually to be the location of his tomb. Several remaining impressive monuments from the Timurids’ Dinasty have enabled the old part of the city to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Excursion in The Palace Ak-Saray, which was Timur’s Summer Palace (“White Palace”). It was planned as the most grandiose of all Timur’s constructions. It was started in 1380 by artisans deported by Timur from the recently conquered Khwarezm. Unfortunately, only traces of its gigantic 65 m gate-towers are survived with blue, white and gold mosaics. Above the entry of the Ak-Saray there are big letters saying: “If you challenge our power – look at our buildings!” The Mosque of Kok Gumbaz / Dorut Tilovat Complex. The Friday Mosque was built in 1437 by Ulugbek in honor of his father Shahrukh, its name means “Blue Dome”. Located immediately behind the Mosque is the so-called “House of Meditation”, a mausoleum built by Ulugbek in 1438, but apparently never used for burials. Hazrat-i Imam Complex. On the Eastern part of the Mosque located another complex called Dorus-Saodat (Seat of Power and Might), which contains the Tomb of Jehangir, Timur’s eldest and favorite son. The adjacent mosque is said to house the tomb of a revered VIII century imam Amir Kulal.Behind the Hazrat-i Imam Ensemble is situated tomb of Timur. It is a bunker with a door leading to an underground chamber, discovered by archaeologists in 1943. The room is nearly filled with a single stone casket, on which inscriptions indicate that it was intended for Timur. However, the conqueror was buried in Samarkand, not in Shahrisabz. Transfer to Samarkand (140 km). Dinner at local restaurant & overnight in the hotel.
Breakfast. Excursion to the heart of Uzbekistan – Samarkand (“Stone Fort” or “Rock Town”) is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Central Asia, prospering from its location on the Silk Road between China and the Mediterranean. At times Samarkand has been one of the greatest cities of Central Asia. There is evidence of human activity in the area of the city from the late Paleolithic era, though there is no direct evidence of when exactly Samarkand was founded, some theories say that it was founded between the VIII and VII centuries BC. By the time of the Achamenid dynasty of Persia, it was the capital of the Sogdian satrapy. The city was taken by Alexander the Great in 329 BC, when it was known by its Greek name of Marakanda. The city was ruled by a succession of Iranian, Persian, and Turkish peoples until the Mongols under Genghis Khan conquered Samarkand in 1220. In 2001, UNESCO added the city to its World Heritage List as Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures
The Mausoleum of Gur Amir is Persian for “Tomb of the King”. This architectural complex with its azure dome contains the tombs of Tamerlane, his sons Shakhrukh, Miranshakh and grandsons Ulugbek, Sultan Muhammad. Also honored with a place in the tomb is Timur’s teacher Sayyid Baraka. The earliest part of the complex was built at the end of the XIV century by the orders of Sultan Muhammad. Now only the foundations of the madrassah and khanaka, the entrance portal and a part of one of four minarets remains. The construction of the mausoleum itself began in 1403 after the sudden death of Muhammad Sultan, Tamerlane’s heir and his beloved grandson, for whom it was intended. Timur had built himself a smaller tomb in Shahrisabz near his Ak-Saray Palace. However, when Timur died in 1405 on campaign on his military expedition to China, roads to Shahrisabz were under snow, so he was buried here instead. Ulugbek, another grandson of Tamerlane, completed the work. During his reign the mausoleum became the family crypt of the Timurid’s Dinasty. The Registan Square was the heart of the ancient city of Samarkand of the Timurid’s dinasty. The name Registan means “Sandy place” or “desert” in Persian. The Registan was a public square, where people gathered to hear royal proclamations, heralded by blasts on enormous copper pipes called dzharchis – and a place of public executions. It is framed by three madrassas of distinctive Islamic architecture: the three madrassas of the Registan are: The Ulugbek Madrassah (1417–1420), The Tilla-Kori Madrassah (1646–1660) and The Sher-Dor Madrassah (1619–1636). The Ulugbek Madrassa was built during the Timurid’s Empire, has an imposing aiwan with a lancet-arch pishtaq or portal facing the square. The corners are flanked by high minarets. The mosaic panel over the aiwan’s entrance arch is decorated by geometrical stylized ornaments. The square courtyard includes a mosque and lecture rooms, and is fringed by the dormitory cells in which students lived. There are deep galleries along the axes. Originally The Ulugbek Madrassah was a two-storied building with four domed darskhonas (lecture rooms) at the corners. It was one of the best clergy universities of the Muslim Orient in the XV Century. Abdurahman Jomiy (was the great Persian poet, scholar, mystic, scientist and philosopher) studied here. During Ulugbek’s government madrassah was a centre of secular science. The Sher-Dor Madrassah was built in the XVII century by Yalangtush Bahodir (was the ruler of Samarkand), he ordered the construction of the Sher-Dor and Tilla-Kori madrassahs. The tiger mosaics on the face of each madrassah are interesting, in that they flout the ban in Islam of the depiction of living beings on religious buildings. The Tilla-Kori Madrassah (means ‘gilded’) was built 10 years later. It was not only a residential college for students, but also played the role of grand masjid (mosque). It has a two-storied main facade and a vast courtyard fringed by dormitory cells, with four galleries along the axes. The mosque building (see picture) is situated in the western section of the courtyard. The main hall of the mosque is abundantly gilded. The Mosque Bibi Khanum is one of the most important monuments of Samarkand. In the XV century it was one of the largest and most magnificent mosques in the Islamic world. By the mid XX century only a grandiose ruin of it still survived, but now major parts of the mosque have been restored. After his Indian campaign in 1399, Timur decided to undertake the construction of a gigantic mosque in his new capital, Samarkand. The mosque was built using wealth looted during his conquest of India. The Mausoleum of Shah-i-Zinda (means “The Living King”) is a necropolis in the north-eastern part of Samarkand. The Shah-i-Zinda Ensemble includes mausoleums and other ritual buildings of IX-XIV and XIX centuries. The Shah-i-Zinda is connected with the legend that Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of the prophet Muhammad was buried there. As if he came to Samarkand with the Arab invasion in the VII century to preach Islam. Popular legends speak that he was beheaded for his faith. But he took his head and went into the deep well (Garden of Paradise), where he’s still living now. The Shah-i-Zinda was formed over nine (from XI till XIX) centuries and now includes more than twenty buildings. The Ulugbek’s Observatory was built in the XV century by the Timurid astronomer Ulugbek, it is considered by scholars as one of the finest observatories in the Islamic world in that century. Some of the famous Islamic astronomers who worked at the observatory include Al-Kashi, Ali Qushchi and Ulugbek himself. The observatory was destroyed in 1449 and rediscovered in 1908. Dinner at local restaurant & overnight in the hotel.
SAMARKAND – TASHKENT (excursion + 280 km)
Breakfast, free time till 12.00. ‘Check out’ from the hotel. Excursion in Museum Afrosiyob. It was an ancient site of northern Samarkand, that was occupied from c 500 BC to 1220 AD. Today, it is a hilly grass mound located near the Bibi Khanaum Mosque. Afrasiyab is the oldest part and the ruined site of the ancient and medieval city of Samarkand. It was located on high ground for defensive reasons, south of a river valley and north of a large fertile area which has now became part of the city of Samarkand. The habitation of the territories of Afrasiyab began in the VII-VI centuries BC, as the centre of the Sogdian culture. The Tomb of Daniel is the traditional burial place of the biblical prophet Daniel. Various locations have been named for the site, but the tomb in Susa, Iran, is the most widely accepted, it being first mentioned by Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Asia between 1160 and 1163. Transfer to Tashkent. Dinner at local restaurant & overnight in the hotel.
TASHKENT – HOME (10 km + flight)
Early morning, transfer from hotel to airport & departure to home.