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Bukhara is one of the great historical draws of Central Asia. Once an important center of Islamic learning known as the "Pillar of Islam," by the 19th century the walled town had become a hermetic emirate ruled by unstable emirs and visited only by a few brave spies and traders. Despite 70 years of Soviet rule, the dozens of mosques, minarets and mausoleums fortunately remain, connected by vaulted bazaars and architectural ensembles in a classic example of medieval Islamic city planning. The city is dominated by the Ark, the former citadel of the Emirs of Bukhara, and by the Kalon ensemble, a great Friday mosque and brick minaret that even ...

Bukhara is one of the great historical draws of Central Asia. Once an important center of Islamic learning known as the "Pillar of Islam," by the 19th century the walled town had become a hermetic emirate ruled by unstable emirs and visited only by a few brave spies and traders. Despite 70 years of Soviet rule, the dozens of mosques, minarets and mausoleums fortunately remain, connected by vaulted bazaars and architectural ensembles in a classic example of medieval Islamic city planning. The city is dominated by the Ark, the former citadel of the Emirs of Bukhara, and by the Kalon ensemble, a great Friday mosque and brick minaret that even stopped Genghis Khan in his tracks. From here the winding mud-walled backstreets take you past little-visited historic buildings and madrassahs, still fascinating even if many of the interiors have been gentrified into souvenir shops and craft workshops. Bukhara also boasts Central Asia's most stylish B&Bs, most located in restored Bukharan mansions and a delight in themselves. There's a lot to see in Bukhara, so budget at least three or four days.

Bradley Mayhew
About the Expert

Bradley Mayhew is the author of more than 25 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, including Central Asia, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Jordan, and is coauthor of the Odyssey guide to Uzbekistan.

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Bradley Mayhew for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Central Asia, border of Kazakstan which is below Russia
  • Language: Uzbek, Russian, English, Persian
  • Currency: Som
  • Research: wikitravel | wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
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    Spring and fall