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Few cities' names glimmer in the traveler's imagination like Samarkand. This Tajik-speaking oasis has been visited by everyone from Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan, but the city belongs to Tamerlane, the 14-century warlord who conquered the world and brought artisans from the breadth of his empire to decorate his opulent capital. The result is Central Asia's most epic architecture, a city of crumbling monuments and floating blue domes, on a scale that dwarfs the monuments of Uzbekistan's other architectural gems Bukhara and Khiva. The Registan Square remains one of the world's most impressive architectural ensembles, topped only in ...

Few cities' names glimmer in the traveler's imagination like Samarkand. This Tajik-speaking oasis has been visited by everyone from Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan, but the city belongs to Tamerlane, the 14-century warlord who conquered the world and brought artisans from the breadth of his empire to decorate his opulent capital. The result is Central Asia's most epic architecture, a city of crumbling monuments and floating blue domes, on a scale that dwarfs the monuments of Uzbekistan's other architectural gems Bukhara and Khiva. The Registan Square remains one of the world's most impressive architectural ensembles, topped only in artistic flair by the stunning tile work of Shah-i Zindah street of tombs. As Uzbekistan's second city, Samarkand is also large and modern, with clearly defined Russian and Central Asian quarters and a good range of accommodation options. Recent renovation and rebuilding work may have taken away some of its timeless charm, but Samarkand still delivers on all its promise.

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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  • Best Time to Visit:

    April to June, September to November