June 21, 2019

Samarkand, at the cross-roads of peoples

“Registan Square” in Samarkand city, photo from Uzbekistan National News Agency – UzA.
At the heart of central Asia, and at the cross-roads of civilisations, lies Samarkand, waiting to be discovered. In fact, Uzbekistan as a whole is a rather amicable country, which is becoming friendlier on regular tourist regulations. From 2018, 101 countries are eligible for e-visas to be picked up points of entry after online applications are submitted.

Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photography courtesy of Henri Estramant.

Flying to Uzbekistan from Europe is easier than before by direct flights from Frankfurt am Main, Paris, or London to Tashkent. Once in Uzbekistan travel is easy as they are comfortable trains from Tashkent to Samarkand that take roughly more than three hours as well as domestic flights to the turquoise city of Samarkand.
In Samarkand, travellers typically head straight for Registan Square, which is comprised of three madaris (Islamic schools), the earliest thereof dates from the XV century. Each of the structures is highly ornamented, and the façades of the Sher For madrassah depicting tigers with human faces upon their backs: they are grotesque and beautiful in equal measure, and clearly challenge the orthodox Islamic view that living creatures should not be depicted in art.

Samarkand, Uzbekistan by Henri Estramant.

One prominent site in Samarkand, however, is a 10 minute walk away. It is called the Shah-i Zinda, and it is an extraordinary necropolis of decorated tombs, some of which are more than 1,000 years old. Each mausoleums in the complex is unique and beautiful, and together they will take your breath away.

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