Bukhara, unlike any other place, exudes its own exotic air of ancient culture. The city is more than two thousand years old and it has seen a lot! Alexander the Great and Tamerlane established their power here, merchants from India, Iran and Europe met in Bukhara on business matters, Frunze’s army bombed the city thus strengthening the Soviet regime in Central Asia...
But we recommend taking the eastern direction not only for its rich history. Even if you are far from studying storied past, you are sure to be mesmerized by architecture and leisurely pace of life accelerated only in local bazaars which are dime a dozen here.
By the way, almost all the hotels are located around the Lyab-i-Hauz pond. It is noteworthy that in the hotels you can bargain a price, so per night you can easily fetch extra $20! East is a delicate matter! For a long time it was Bukhara through which the Great Silk Rout went, so here they are masters to align a good price. There are four main bazaars: Taqi-Sarrafon, Taqi-Zargaron, Taki-Tilpak-Furushan and Tim-Abdullah-Khan. Just a couple of centuries ago each of them specialized in one type of the goods. For instance, Tim-Abdullah-Khan was a place famous throughout Asia for its fabrics and carpets. Taqi-Zargaron intended for jewellery sales. Over time Bukhara traders changed their approach. And now army of tourists is not forced to queue for visiting different bazaars as today each of them offers a complete range. Therefore, one can safely find all the most wanted oriental goods at the same market.
If bazaar atmosphere is the best to demonstrate the mood of the city, then to see its face tourists should take a look at the dramatic Muslim architecture: luxury mosques, caravanserais and well preserved ancient fortresses. Among the latter, the Ark Fortress shall be highlighted. Once a home for Bukhara rulers, it is perhaps the most important symbol of the Uzbeks’ power. Fortified with stone walls, millennial Ark is virtually a town-within-a-town. Jaded by annoying heat, you can enjoy coolness inside the throne room, the mosque cathedral or in the emir bath. Be ready to spend at least a few hours in this fabulous spot steeped in history, as the fortress spreads out almost 4 hectares.
The list of Bukhara’s star venues for sure contains Bakhautdin Naqsband Mausoleum. Muslims say three visits there equal the hajj to Mecca. And you have probably seen the Chor-Minor mosque in pictures as it is considered one of the most recognizable structures in Uzbekistan.
Every corner in Bukhara looks unusual for European eye. Therefore, you can walk there endlessly. Well, or at least till your nose feels smell wafting from nearby barbecue restaurants and chaikhanas or tea-houses which you can hardly walk past. And they well worth visiting! The obligatory ritual of tea-drinking is not just significantly different from the usual "tea bags", but also is very refreshing. Barbecues and scones are synonyms with gastronomic Bukhara.
We suggest finishing your dinner at the mentioned bazaars. The compulsory program includes fruit and nuts. Note the dried apricots: we advise to try not those beautiful fruits lining shelves, but dry apricot with pits. The locals buy them as those are amazingly delicious.
Time in Bukhara flows in a special manner: relaxed and tranquil rhythm of eastern life carries so much that you can only wonder how the day may be so short. The main thing to remember is that Bukhara is not the flashy Tashkent and Samarkand. Lose yourself and roam the streets and back streets, gaze at houses and people. Then you are sure to be inspired by this Uzbekistan’s diamond.
And finally, a few tips to make your trip even more exciting:
Be prepared for a very strict Uzbek customs that check everything. But it is better to spend on it for a while, and then enjoy the East, believe me!
Taxi drivers do not give up trying to earn extra. It is important to understand that a trip around the city cannot cost over $5-7.
The average price of dinner for one person is $10.
If the Bukharans invite you to share their meal, do not give up, hospitality is the attribute of the East.
There is a wonderful amusement park Somoni in the city. Almost all machines are Soviet-made, but in excellent condition. Safe nostalgia.
Photo from open sources