Tourist Uzbekistan is not only beloved and well-known routes in the ancient cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva however also completely new destinations which tourists discover every year. These are not only the historical sites but also the unique nature and cultural objects of new times, attracting the attention of travelers from all over the world. We offer top 10 new routes to travel in Uzbekistan.
The Louvre in the desert
Karakalpakstan, which occupies nearly one-third of the territory of Uzbekistan is attractive to tourists with a variety of interests. One of the main centers of attraction for travelers in the region is the Savitsky State Art Museum in Nukus, where the largest collection of Turkestan and Russian modernism of the first half of the twentieth century is presented. The fund of the museum has 100 thousand unique exhibits. The collection is the best art collection in the Asian region and has the second largest collection of Russian avant-garde art. In 2001 The Guardian called it “one of the most beautiful museums in the world”.
Karakalpakstan is located between two deserts – Karakum and Kyzylkum. The dried up Aral Sea which has become a symbol of global environmental disaster has also become a tourist destination. The graveyard of ships in the former fishing port of Muinak with its apocalyptic landscape attracts photographers from all over the world. For several years the place has hosted an electronic music festival called “The Element”. The region is an open-air archaeological reserve. There are more than 300 archaeological sites on its territory, mostly from the times of the Khorezm civilization and Zoroastrianism flourishing.
Switzerland in Uzbekistan
Ecotourism enthusiasts may be interested in the Zaamin National Nature Park in Jizzakh region. The total area of the park is 26,840 hectares located two to three hours drive from Tashkent. Out of these, 8,770 hectares are the territory of Zaamin State Reserve created back in 1968 on the mountain range of Turkestan, in order to preserve the unique juniper forests and wildlife. It has mountain ranges from 1,670 to 4,200 m above sea level.
The vegetation of Zaamin deserves special attention for which it is called the “Uzbek Switzerland”. There are about 700 species of unique plants on the territory of the reserve, 13 of which are included in the Red Book. The fauna of the reserve is also diverse and even bears and snow leopards live there.
At an altitude of 2 thousand meters above sea level in the Zaamin National Park medical and sanatorium “Zaamin” is located , which has all necessary conditions for the implementation of climate-prophylactic and climatotherapy procedures for children and adults with respiratory and nervous system diseases.
Homeland of Amir Timur
The famous commander Amir Timur was born in the small village of Hodja-Ilgar near Shakhrisabz in the Kashkadarya region. The history of the city goes back to the 3rd century B.C., and ancient Chinese chronicles mention that the ancient city of Suse, whose ruler was the first to establish trade relations with China, was located on this site. In the second half of the II century BC the city was named Kesh and became the capital of Sogd, one of the provinces of the Achaemenid Empire.
Later Shakhrisabz became the first capital of Amir Timur’s state. Today the historical center of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many objects from the era of Tamerlane were preserved there. These are the remains of a fortress wall, built under Amir Timur, the ruins of the ancient palace of Aksaray, 57 meters high. Nearby there are the Kok-Gumbaz Mosque, Dorut-Tilovat Memorial Complex, Dorus-Saodat, Shamsad-Din Kulyal and Gumbazi-Seyidan Mausoleums. The best way to Shakhrisabz is by road from Samarkand, which passes through the high mountain pass Takhtakaracha in the Zarafshan range, which offers a view of the entire valley.
However, Kashkadarya is famous not only for the hometown of Amir Timur. Popular destinations for tourists are Hissarak reservoir 35 km from Shakhrisabz on the Aksu River, Hissar mountain archee national park with peaks above 4 thousand meters, deep caves and canyons. Situated at an altitude of 2300 meters above sea level, villages Gilan and Kul are well known among tourists. From here there is a road to the highest ridge of Uzbekistan – the sacred mountain Hazrat Sultan (4643 m above sea level).
Oasis in the Kyzylkum Desert
Fans of water recreation may be interested in Lake Aidarkul – a large artificial water body in the Aidar-Arnasai system of lakes, located in the northeastern part of Uzbekistan. The lake system occupies a total area of about 4,000 square kilometers and includes three salt lakes: Aidarkul, Arnasai and Tuzkan. The lakes are located in a solonchak depression in the southeastern part of the Kyzylkum desert. The lake shores extend from Nurata district of Navoi region to Farish and Mirzachul districts of Jizzak region for more than 200 km.
The drainless lake Aidarkul is sometimes called “sea in the sands” for its sandy beaches and salty water. The lake is located away from settlements and large roads. There are rest houses, campsites, and yurt guest houses along the shore for tourists. The lake is a favorite place for fishing.
Sarmyshsai – a journey into the Stone Age
In Navoi region (45 km north-east of Navoi city), on the southern slope of Karatau mountain, near Kata-Karga pass there is a tract of Sarmyshsai with petroglyphs of the Stone Age. According to the Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan, during the Neolithic period (VI-V millennium BC) the tribes of hunters and fishermen of Keltaminar culture settled there. The convenient location of the tract, the availability of fresh water and a large number of animals made Sarmyshsai a place to perform rituals. The petroglyphs of Sarmyshsai vary in age, style and subject matter. Basically it is images of bulls-turs, which belong to the Stone and Bronze centuries, and also images of deer, goats in animal style, typical for art of tribes of Scythian circle (early iron IX-II centuries BC). The size of the territory of Sarmyshsai “gallery of petroglyphs” is really huge – 20 sq. km. It is estimated that more than 10 thousand petroglyphs have been found in Sarmyshsai.
To Margilan for silk
If you ask any Uzbek where you can buy a product made of pure silk, he will answer: in Margilan. According to legend the name of the city is associated with Alexander the Great, who named it after the “Murdjinon” dish with which he was greeted by the locals. The history of Margilan, located in the center of the Great Silk Road, goes back to the II-I centuries B.C.
Margilan is famous for its ancient traditions of weaving unique types of silk fabrics based on the ancient “abrbandi” technique.
Individual sections of threads were dyed in different colors one by one, resulting in patterns unique in contrast and color. The ornaments of Margilan fabrics are still considered a work of arts and crafts.
Now there are three silk factories in Margilan – “Yodgorlik”, “Fayzulodin” and “Atlas”, as well as many individual craftsmen. Especially popular among tourists is the factory “Yodgorlik” (founded in 1972). For many decades, it has carefully preserved the manual method of production of ancient fabrics on ancient wooden hand-spinning looms. Margilan also hosts an annual international silk festival “Atlas Bayrami” where more than 300 kinds of satin and adras, carpets, sewing and other products are demonstrated.
Kokand – the city of the last khans
Kokand can rightfully be called one of the oldest cities of Central Asia, although the first references to it as an independent city date back to the tenth century. From the eighteenth century the city became the capital of the Kokand khanate and a religious center. Kokand was an important point on the Great Silk Road, thanks to its favorable geographical location at the entrance to the fertile Fergana Valley. The city enjoyed trade, and various crafts and trades (pottery, wood carving, etc.). Today the city is a major center of handicrafts.
The most interesting to modern tourists architectural objects of Kokand were created in the XVIII-XIX centuries – in the period of prosperity of the Kokand khanate. Among them are the luxurious palace of the last ruler of the Fergana Valley Khudoyarkhan (19th c.), Jami Mosque (late 18th – early 19th c.), Norbut-biya Madrasah (late 18th c.), Madarikhan Mausoleum (19th c.), Emir Madrasah (18th c.) and Dakhma-i Shakhon tomb (19th c.). The palace complex of Khudoyarkhan was built in 1871 in the traditional style of Central Asian architecture and is notable for its rich interior and exterior decoration carved and painted patterns in the oriental style.
The city also has the Kokand Museum of Local Lore, founded in 1925 and is one of the oldest in Uzbekistan. The way from Tashkent
to Kokand lies through the most picturesque mountain pass Kamchik,
through which a 19.2 km long railway
tunnel is laid. The city also has numerous
workshops of craftsmen, which attract tourists.
Discover the bridge in Karshi
Karshi is the administrative center of the Kashkadarya region of Uzbekistan. In 2006, the city celebrated its 2,700th anniversary.
The most interesting attraction of the city can be considered as the Karshi Bridge built in 1583 in the Persian style. The structure has several names: Amir Timur Bridge, Sheibanid Bridge, Kashkadarya Bridge, Nicholas Bridge. The construction of the structure was initiated by Abdullah Khan II, who tried to make the settlement attractive to trade caravans. Since then, the bridge has become one of the symbols of the city.
There are also many other historical monuments in Karshi. They include the memorial complex of the famous commander, politician, companion and physician of the Prophet Muhammad Abu Ubaid ibn al-Jarrokh, the only Central Asian madrassah and mosque for women Odin (16th century), Kok-Gumbaz Cathedral Mosque (16th century), Kilichboy Madrassah (1914), Madrassah Khuja Abdulaziz (1909). On the territory of Karshi also remained water tank – Sardoba built in the XIV century, and the old Karshi baths of the XVI century.
Maidanak High Mountain Observatory
In the Kashkadarya region there is also one of the most amazing constructions in Central Asia – the Maidanak high- mountain observatory. It was built in 1970 on the western part of the Maidanak plateau, 45 kilometers from Shakhrisabz. In 1970 the permanent high-mountain Maidanak expedition of the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Uzbek SSR was organized at this place.
Studies have found that the image quality at Maidanak is 80% better than at other locations. It is considered one of the best observatories in the Northern Hemisphere. In perfect silence, you can observe the starry sky through a telescope capable of seeing extragalactic objects.
Due to harsh climatic conditions, the observatory is closed for the winter and only opens in the spring. On the way to Maidanak there are natural attractions: Langar Canyon with 100-meter rock walls, Langar-ota mausoleum, salt mine, where salt is extracted by artisanal method, as well as the tract Bek-Terak.
The Iron Gate of Derbent
One of the most mysterious places in Uzbekistan and throughout Central Asia can be considered the famous mountain passage Iron Gate located in Baisun district of Surkhandarya region in the territory of Derbent village. From ancient times, the passage occupied an important strategic location, as numerous trade caravans and troops passed through it. It was the shortest way to get from Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent to Bactria and India and back.
The Iron Gate was repeatedly mentioned in the written sources of Chinese, Greek and Arab historians and geographers. For example, in 630, the Chinese traveler Xuanzang in his notes described the gorge as a defensive passage covered with iron and locked with a double-leaf gate, and the famous Arab geographer Al-Yakubi, describing the 9th century city in Sogd, also mentions this passage. The famous Spanish traveler Rui Gonzales de Clavijo also passed through this gate on his way to Maverannahr to receive Amir Timur. He wrote that the gate protected the kingdom of Samarkand from India Minor, and also brought him great revenue every year.