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Samarkand, also Samarqand, is perhaps the most famous city of modern Uzbekistan. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The name Samarkand is derived from Old Persian asmara ("stone, rock" and from Sogdian qand ("fort", "town"). Samarkand literally means "stone fort" or "rock town"). Samarkand had a central position on the Silk Road between China and the West. In the 14th cent. Temur (Tamerlane) made Samarkand the capital of his empire. Samarkand is a must see for all travellers visiting the Central Asia. It was added to UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001 as Samarkand - Crossroad of Cultures [1].



The site of Samarkand was sporadically occupied in the Bronze and Early Iron Ages. A city was founded in pre-Achaemenid times, between 650 and 550 BC. A wall followed the whole circuit of the plateau (5.5 km), complemented by another one which separates the town from the acropolis, situated in the northern part and itself including a citadel raised on an artificial platform. The massive wall, 7 m thick, was made of coarse mud bricks, all of which bear a mark, an indication that labor was strictly organized in groups of workers. Similar building techniques have been noticed at other Sogdian and pre-Sogdian sites during that pre-Achaemenid period.

The city was conquered by Alexander the Great in 329 BC. It was named Maracanda by the Greeks. Two phases of Greek occupation can be distinguished, the first lasting from Alexander to the second half of the 3rd cent.BC and a second period of reconquest under the Greco-Bactrian king Eucratides (171-145 BC). The pottery differs markedly between these two phases.

The pre-Islamic Sogdian civilization is best documented from excavations at Panjikent. At Samarqand, the major source of evidence for this period is the aristocratic residence with the famous wall paintings which were commissioned for a reception hall ca. 660 AD, probably by King Varkhuman.

Islamic period

In the early 8th century AD, Samarkand was conquered by the Arabs and soon became an important center of Muslim culture. Excavations beneath the mosque show a rapid succession of monumental buildings. A massive enclosure, perhaps the temenos of the pre-Islamic temple mentioned in the sources, was razed some time after the Arab conquest of 712. The site was occupied by a large palace (ca 115 x 84 m), which was according to numismatic evidence built in the 740s by the last Omayyad governor Nasar b. Sayyar. Between 765 and 780 the Friday mosque was first built on a square plan, which probably at the beginning of the Samanid period, ca. 820-30 was enlarged and the remaining parts of the palace were levelled.

It subsequently grew as a trade center on the Silk Road, the great trading route between China and the Mediterranean region.

In 1220 Samarkand was almost completely destroyed by the Mongol ruler Genghis Khan. It flourished again when Timur-i-Leng (known as Tamerlane in the West) made it the capital of his empire in 1369. As his capital Timur put Samarkand on the world map and much of the architecture visible today was built by him or his descendants. The empire declined in the 15th century, and nomadic Uzbeks (Shaybanids) took Samarkand in 1500. In 1784 the emirate of Bukhara conquered it. The city was taken by Russia in 1868 and once again began to assume importance. From 1924 to 1930, Samarqand was the capital of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR).

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) 6 8 14 21 26 32 34 32 28 21 15 9
Nightly lows (°C) -3 -1 3 9 13 16 16 16 11 6 2 -1
Daylight (hrs/day) 4 5 6 7 10 13 13 12 10 8 6 4

Samarkand has a typical continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. Best seasons for travels to Samarland is Apr/May and Sep/Oct.

Get in

By plane

Uzbekistan Airways [2] operates flights from

By train

Train 2 leaves Tashkent on Mon, Thu, Fri, Sat and Sun at 7.00 a.m., arriving in Samarkand at 10.50 a.m., Train 50 leaves Tashkent every day at 7.00 p.m., arriving in Samarkand at 11.55 p.m.

By road

Samarkand is about 4 hours by road from Tashkent; shared taxis leave from Sobir Rahimov bus station.

The distance to Samarkand from Tashkent is 290 km, from Bokhara 270 km, from Khiva 740 km, from Andizhan 610 km, from Fergana 600 km, from Karshi 150 km, from Kokand 500 km, from Nukus 820 km, from Shahrisabz 90 km, from Termez 380 km and from Urgench 700 km.

Get around





The most famous product of Samarkand is their bread, "Samarkand Non". A visitor will rarely find anybody leaving Samarkand with out buying Non as a gift. There are so many interesting stories about "Samarkand Non".


Samarkand is a conservative city as compared with Tashkent. There are few Night Clubs and Bars. On Afrosiab Hotel there is a Night Club and Bar. In President Hotel Guests can have Beer in Nice Environments. Incante Show Club is at a walking Distance from Afrosiab Hotel and in the evening visitors can watch Pole Dance.



Get out

Related Information

A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [3].

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