History of Samarkand - one of the most ancient cities of the world
Early history of Samarkand
Facade of Sher Dor Madrasah, Samarkand
With a history dating back well over 2500 years, Samarkand is one of the most ancient cities of the world, and the oldest in Central Asia. During its long history, Samarkand has been attacked, destroyed, and oppressed over and over again by various conquerors, including Alexander the Great, Genghis- Khan, and the Army of the Arab Caliphate. Each time however, the city was reborn, at times rising to a very high level of importance in Central Asia. One of the reasons for the constant struggle for power over the city of Samarkand is that it is advantageously situated along the famous Silk Road. The Silk Road was a route of several branches that was vital in connecting Europe with Eastern and Western Asia. Not only was silk transported along this route, but also information, people, and technology. Other commodities traded along the Silk Road included gold, ivory, exotic plants and animals, glass, precious stones, and of course silk. The Silk Road was vital in the development of many countries throughout Central Asia.
The first human settlers flourished in Samarkand thanks to the favorable environmental conditions. Near the end of the fourth century B.C. Samarkand was invaded by Alexander the Great, who had been told about the beauty and natural resources of the region. Upon seeing it himself for the first time, Alexander exclaimed,"All I have heard is true, except it is more beautiful than I could ever have imagined". With Alexander came a strong Greek influence over the region. During the uprising against Alexander the Great in 328 B.C, the town was destroyed. Samarkand eventually overcame that devastation and rose up from the ashes again.
During the sixth century tribes of the Turkic Kaganate expanded their territory all over Central Asia. In the seventh and eighth centuries, Samarkand and Bukhara were invaded by Arab conquerors, and with this the Arab/Muslin influence became dominant in the Central Asia cities of Uzbekistan. The Arab Caliphate collapsed in the ninth century, and for the next several centuries various powerful feudal states replaced each other in Central Asia, including the Seljuks, Samanids, Khorezmshah, and the Tamerlane monarchy. During some of these reigns the economy and culture of Samarkand developed, but at other times the conquering rulers inflicted oppression, great suffering and destruction upon the cities of Central Asia.
The tomb of Tamerlane
Gir-e Amir Mausoleum, Samarkand
A capital of Tamerlane's emprire where you can touch the history of Central Asia and Great Silk Road
Around the fourteenth century Samarkand became the capital of the enormous empire of the conqueror Tamerlane. He was a ruthless, fiercely aggressive ruler who terrorized Central Asia and murdered the populations he conquered mercilessly. Tamerlane completely destroyed everything in his path in his continuing war campaigns over all of Central Asia. However, Tamerlane was also intelligent, with an interest in the arts and education. He was determined to build Samarkand to the highest level of greatness, in part as a tribute to himself. To this end he brought all the riches of his conquered lands to Samarkand, which he established as the capital of his empire. Besides bringing home all the treasure of the lands he conquered, Tamerlane captured and enslaved gifted artisans and craftsman from all over Central Asia, and took them to Samarkand as well. Under his rule Samarkand became a center of culture and science famous throughout Central Asia. It was during this period that many of the spectacular architectural achievements were erected. To this day these stunning structures are among the most dazzling, ornate, intricately beautiful buildings in the world, drawing spectators from every country to travel to Uzbekistan and tour the ancient city of Samarkand.
After the death of Tamerlane, his empire went to his sons and grandsons. His grandson Ulugbek, who ruled Samarkand for forty years, was the most peace-loving ruler. He traveled many times to foreign regions all over Central Asia, but only to learn of their customs, cultures and traditions. Ulugbek was a great scientist, astronomer, and mathematician. He invited scientists from other countries to travel to Samarkand for the purpose of furthering scientific development in his own government. During his time as Ruler, Samarkand grew and prospered, becoming a major cultural center of the Central Asian world.
About Great Silk Road
Facade of Bibi Khanym Mosque, Samarkand
Modern history of Samarkand and Uzbekistan
In the nineteenth century Russia captured Samarkand, and it became the capital of the Uzbek USSR in 1925. Hence Russian became yet another major influence in Samarkand culture.
Like most cities in Central Asia, Samarkand is divided into two sections. The newer section is the center of administration, industrialization, and higher education. In this section of Samarkand there are five major institutes for study and development. They are Agriculture, Architecture, Medical Science, a Cooperative Institute of Foreign Languages, and a ten-faculty State University. Most people who travel to Uzbekistan are most interested in a tour of Samarkand that is focused on the old section of the city. This is where the fantastic mosques, madrasahs and historical monuments can be found, as well as local shops.
Samarkand is the second largest city in Uzbekistan, with a truly diverse, multi-national population of over 500,000. The extreme ethnic diversity adds greatly to the colorful ambience and flavor of the city, making any tour of Central Asia that includes touring Samarkand an amazing, unforgettable experience.
Adventure Tours to Samarkand