Bukhara - my favorite city in Central Asia

Bukhara - my favorite city in Central Asia

adventure travel & photography

Destinations: Pakistan ◦◦ India ◦◦Turkey ◦◦ Egypt ◦◦ Bulgaria ◦◦ Mongolia ◦◦ Bangladesh ◦◦ Jordan ◦◦ Russia ◦◦ Turkmenistan ◦◦ Iran ◦◦ Kazakhstan ◦◦ Japan ◦◦ Hong Kong ◦◦ Greece ◦◦ Ukraine ◦◦ Syria ◦◦ Morocco ◦◦ Italy ◦◦ Mauritania ◦◦ Oman ◦◦ Algeria ◦◦ Faroe Islands ◦◦ Indonesia ◦◦ Uzbekistan ◦◦ Ghana ◦◦ Togo

The central Asian cities each have their distinct charm. Khiva, with its well-preserved and renovated structures, is a bustling tourist spot. Samarkand, despite its dispersed attractions, captivates with its beauty. Tashkent, the capital, teems with life with its large and noisy ambiance. However, Bukhara, with its amalgamation of beauty, history, and tranquillity, appeals to me the most.

Bukhara's historic center is akin to an open-air museum, adorned with ancient madrasas, mosques, and fortresses dating back over 2000 years. The city was a hub of culture, scholarship, trade, and religion during the Silk Road period and served as the intellectual heart of the Islamic world. The city's fabric has remained largely unchanged over the past two centuries, making it a window into the past.

Bukhara's history is fascinating. In the 6th century BC, it evolved as a significant city along the Silk Road, attracting invaders such as the Achaemenids and Alexander the Great. By the 9th and 10th centuries AD, Bukhara became the capital of the Samanid Empire and the cultural and religious center of Central Asia. It nurtured numerous philosophers, poets, and scientists, holding as much significance in the Persian Islamic world as figures like Shakespeare and Newton do in the West.


The Po-i-Kalyan complex, an iconic historical site, includes the Kalyan Minaret, the Kalyan Mosque, Mir-i-Arab Madrasah, and Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah. The Kalyan Minaret, standing almost 46 meters high, was built in 1127 during the Karakhanid period. The Kalyan Mosque, also known as Kalan or Kalon, was completed in 1515 and is part of the historical Po-i-Kalyan complex. The Mir-i-Arab Madrasah, built in the 16th century, is still an active school, and tourists can admire its courtyard from the entrance.

Po-i-Kalyan complex

The Kalyan Mosque

The Kalyan Mosque, completed in 1515, is part of the historical complex "Po-i-Kalyan".

The Mir-i-Arab Madrasah

The Mir-i-Arab Madrasah, built in the 16th century, is still functioning as a school, but it is open to tourists in some parts.

Chor Minor

Among the many attractions of Bukhara, Chor Minor is perhaps the most intriguing. Believed to have been constructed in 1807 as the historic gate of a madrasah, it's top floor once served as a library.

The Ark of Bukhara

The Ark of Bukhara, a massive fortress built around the 5th century AD, has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. Today, it houses several museums, a mosque, and the throne room, making it a must-visit site.

The Bolo Hauz Mosque

The Bolo Hauz Mosque, built in 1712, is another beautiful site outside the city.

The Abdulaziz Han Madrassah

The Abdulaziz Han Madrassah in the town center is an architectural delight worth visiting.

The old town of Bukhara

I find that waking up early to watch the city stir to life, set up its shopping stalls, and bask in the beautiful light is a wonderful experience that connects one to the locals.

Kolkhoznyy Rynok

If you want to experience local markets beyond the touristy trading domes of Bukhara, consider visiting the Kolkhoznyy Rynok. Here, you'll discover fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, meats, spices, and surprisingly few tourists.

The Memorial Complex of Imam Al-Bukhari

Next, the Memorial Complex of Imam Al-Bukhari is worth a visit. Although the museum itself may not be as fascinating, the building and its surrounding views are quite impressive.

The Samanid Mausoleum

Located just outside Bukhara's tourist area in a serene park, you'll find the Mavzoley Samanidov, also known as the Samanid Mausoleum. It provides a peaceful retreat from the crowds and is said to be the tomb of Ismail Samani and a few other members of the Samanid dynasty.

The Nadir Divan-begi Madrasa

The Nadir Divan-begi Madrasa, built in the 1620s, holds a significant place in Bukhara's history. It is located on the east side of Lyab-i Hauz square and is part of an architectural ensemble. The madrasa was constructed by vizier Nadir Divan-begi, the maternal uncle of Imam Quli Khan, who ruled Bukhara from 1611-41.

the Maghoki Attori Mosque

Lastly, the Maghoki Attori Mosque is a historical landmark in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. It is part of the religious complex of Lyab-i Hauz and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the historical center of Bukhara, the mosque functions as a carpet museum nowadays.

Monument to Hodja Nasreddin


In conclusion, Bukhara is a city that embraces its history while thriving in the present. It's a place where the past and the present coexist, making it a truly unique destination worth exploring.

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