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The Registan in Uzbekistan is undoubtedly the most magnificent monument I’ve seen in Central Asia. The locals call it the eighth wonder of the world. The sheer size of the three Madrassas and their facades that are covered with brick and tile geometric, floral and mosaic designs makes it one of the most impressive squares in the world.
These 14th and 15th centuries mausoleums were built for royals and nobles. Set in clusters within medieval streets, these sacred buildings have been continually preserved and added to by master craftsmen from Persian and Azerbaijan. The result is a fascinating cross-reference of various architectural styles, methods, and decorative craftsmanship as they have changed throughout the centuries.
This 2,000-year-old fortress is the landmark of Bukhara and one of the highlights of Uzbekistan. It has served the Emirs as a residence, audience hall, centre for trade and also protection from neighboring enemies. The Ark has been carefully restored and has been converted into a wonderful museum. The mud-brick walls of the Ark Fortress grace almost every postcard of Bukhara: it is to this city as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, or Tower Bridge is to London.
It is the burial place of Ismael Samani, founder of the Persian Samani Dynasty. Though small, it is detailed in a fashion not seen in many other Bukharan monuments. More than 16 styles of brickwork adorn the face of this cubic memorial and the transition from square walls to circular roof testifies to the engineering know-how of the architects of that era.
This network of 16th-century trading domes are beautifully decorated and showcase different works of art. It is here that you can see artists creating these magnificent handwoven carpets, felt hats, exotic jewelry and swords. It’s an absolute treat to wander in them.
Step back in time in this walled citadel. Here you find an array of madrassas, minarets, mosques and palaces - many of them converted into museums that give you the lowdown on its rich history. Take a walk through the World UNESCO Heritage Site, and don’t be surprised if you are invited by a family for a cup of “choi”. At sunset take to one of the rooftop to get a bird’s eye view of the Islam Khoja Minaret with its dazzling domes that appear to turn gold.
Leave the city behind to head into the desert of Karakalpakstan, which is dotted with ancient clay citadels. The largest and most famous is the Ayaz Kalal, a group of three citadels that date back to the 4th century.
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