Cradled between the Amu-Darya and Syr-Darya rivers, Uzbekistan is arguably the most fascinating of the Central Asian republics. A key link along the ancient silk routes that once connected China with Western Europe, it is home to some of the oldest towns in the world, including the almost legendary cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. Long considered different from the rest of Central Asia, these rich lands were settled as early as the 6th century, a testament etched into the very stone of Khiva and Bukhara’s towering fortresses and Samarkand’s glorious Islamic architecture.
Almost mystical symbols of the region’s oriental beauty, its cities are well matched by the nature that surrounds them. From the verdant slopes of the Ferghana Valley to the arid parched landscapes of the Aral Sea, this is a land whose legend has long lived in the imagination of the west.
Bearing the scars and influences of Huns, Turks and Mongols, Uzbekistan’s golden age came with the reign of Tamerlane in the 14th century. The breathtaking splendour of Samarkand was his legacy, along with the cultural traditions that have passed down the old caravan routes of the Silk Road, to survive amongst the bazaars and tea houses of his old capital.