Quick Links

The importance and rich medieval history of Central Asia is a story rarely told. For many years it had some of the world's most important cities and some of the greatest centers of learning. One of the important cities is the ancient city of Bukhara in modern-day Uzbekistan. The Uzbekistan cities of Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara are utterly beautiful and remarkable and leave visitors bewildered why they aren't more famous.

Uzbekistan has much more than just iconic Islamic architecture to see. In the west of the country, visitors see the ghost fleet of the disappeared Aral Sea, while the country is famous for its cuisine. While delicious, Uzbekistan's cuisine was named by The Lancet as the unhealthiest in the world. If one has the time, explore the other countries in Central Asia and see how every country is so different and unique from each other.


The Ancient Central Asian City Of Bukhara

The region around Bukhara has been inhabited for at least 5,000 years, with the city having existed for around half of that time. It has been the capital of the historic Samanid Empire, the Khanate of Bukhara, and the Emirate of Bukhara.

  • Founded: Over 2,500 Years Ago

Bukhara sits on the ancient Silk Road and has long been a center of trade as well as religion, culture, and scholarship.

In ancient times it was a Persian city and a major center of Islamic culture. Over time, the region was overrun by Turkic peoples from the steppes and is today part of the Turkic nation of Uzbekistan. Most of the inhabitants of Bukhara speak Tajik - a dialect of Persian. It sits at the historic crossroads of ancient Persia to the south and the Turkic peoples of Central Asia and the steppes.

Related: What Makes Uzbekistan The Most Popular Country In Central Asia (And Why It's Worth Visiting Once)

The Best Preserved City In Central Asia

"It is one of the best examples of well preserved Islamic cities of Central Asia of the 10th to 17th centuries, with an urban fabric that has remained largely intact."


So much of its medieval architecture remains preserved today, with its historic center continuing to hustle and live on today. It has around 140 architectural monuments making it the most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia.

Some of its buildings span a thousand years of storied history. The old center hasn't changed much in recent centuries and offers a glimpse into the pre-Russian Turkestan. Some monuments are considered a masterpiece of 10th-century Muslim architecture. A number of madrases date from the 17th century.

  • Population: 280,000

Another center of Uzbekistan's ancient architecture is the city of Samarkand. It is more subtle and less flashy than Samarkand.

The Many Ancient Monuments And Attractions In Bukhara

Bukhara is a World Heritage listed by UNESCO. It has a wealth of madrassahs, mausoleums, tombs, minarets, a massive royal fortress, and what is left of a once-vast market complex.

The famous Ismail Samani tomb from the 10th is one of the most important architectural monuments that survived before the Mongol invasions beginning with Genghis Khan in 1220 and later with Temur in 1370. The city was rebuilt in the 16th century

Important Monuments Of Bukhara:

  • Ismail Samanai Tomb: Dates From The 10th Century
  • Poi-Kalyan Minaret: A Masterpiece Of Decoration In Brick
  • Ulugbek Medresseh: Survives From The Temurid Period
  • Other Monuments: Magoki Attori Mosque, Chashma Ayub Shrine, the Lyabi-Khauz Ensamble, the Kosh Medresseh, the Gaukushon Medresseh, Taki Sarafon, the Taki-Tilpak-Furushan, And More

Bukhara is regarded as the holiest city in Central Asia and has many objects of Islamic pilgrimage.

Related: Why The Cities Along the Silk Routes of Uzbekistan Are So Special (And Should Be Visited)

Planning One's Visit To Bukhara

Bukhara can be seen in a day, although two days is better to get a more complete feel of the city. It is also on the way to visiting the ghost fleet in the middle of the desert that was once the Aral Sea.

  • Time Needed: 1-2 Days

Bukhara can be reached by high-speed train from Samarkand and the capital, Tashkent. The high-speed train is the fastest and most comfortable way to visit the three main Uzbek cities.

  • Visa Policy: USA Passports - E-visa Required; Other Western Passports - Visa-Free

American passport holders need an e-visa to visit Uzbekistan (it is easy to get and is good for a month). All other western passport holders (UK, EU, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, etc.) enjoy visa-free entry for up to one month.