If, like me, you have been enjoying Joanna Lumley’s recent television series and fascinated by the wonders of the countries she visited on her journey along the Great Silk Route’s Path across Central Asia, then you too can experience a section of her journey as our Travel Partner, Saga, has an Escorted Tour to Uzbekistan: Heart of the Silk Route.
Uzbekistan is an extraordinary country where you will step into another world exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Khiva, Bukhara, Somarkand and Shakhrisabz. Embark on Saga’s 10 night eastern adventure to these exotic cities on historic crossroads, across a landscape where little has changed since the days of Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great and where towering minarets, glazed arches and gleaming turquoise domes etch the skyline
Your experience commences with Saga’s included UK VIP door-to-door travel service to the airport from where you will fly overnight to Tashkent. The following day you will fly to Urgench before transferring to Khiva.
Once the last resting post for merchants preparing to tackle the desert sands en route to Persia, Khiva’s inner fortress, Itchan Kala is protected by brick walls some 10 metres high. Although few very old monuments still remain it still remains an architectural treasure trove of carefully restored mud-walled monuments and is a coherent and well-preserved example of the Muslim architecture of Central Asia. There are several outstanding structures such as the Djuma Mosque, the Ismail Khodja Mausoleum, the 16th-century Kunya-Ark Castle and 19th-century Muhammed Amin Khan Madrassah.
Travelling on across the Kyzyl-Kum or Red Desert, a route that once took camel caravans laden down with silk, spices and other exotic goods a month to make, you will arrive at Bukhara, one of the best examples of a medieval city in Central Asia, a centre of trade and education for more than 2,000 years and central Asia’s holiest city. Its buildings span a thousand years of history and the old, lived in centre hasn’t changed too much in two centuries still giving the best glimpse of pre-Russian Turkestan.
Most of the centre is an architectural preserve, full of medressas and minarets, a massive royal fortress, the 10th-century Samanids Mausoleum, the remnants of a once-vast market complex and the 15th to 16th-century domed bazaars where merchants still ply their trade
Travel beyond the heart of the city to the magnificent 16th to 19th-century Naqshbandi Mausoleum, built for the founder of the Naqshbandi Sufi order with its beautiful blue-glazed tiles adorning the facade of this domed, multi-arched masterpiece. Also visit the summer residence of the last Emir of Bukhara, Sitorai-Mokhi-Hossa, a reminder of Uzbekistan’s era of Russian rule.
The next visit is to Samarkand where you will visit the Afrosiyab Museum located at the historical site of Afrasiyab, one of the largest archaeological sites in the world and the ancient city that was destroyed by the Mongols in the early 13th century. Admire the colourful mosaics, blue domes and lofty arches of Registan Square, this grand plaza is bordered on three sides by a group of splendid structures spanning the 14th to 16th centuries, built by the Timurid dynasty.
Prospering from its location on the Silk Road between China and the Mediterranean at times it was one of the greatest cities of Central Asia and by the time of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia, it was the capital of the Sogdian satrapy and is also noted for being an Islamic centre for scholarly studies.
Travel on to the penultimate visit through the Tahta-Pass to Shakhrisabz to discover 14th to 15th-century Timurid mosques, mausoleums and the ruined gateway of Ak-Saray Palace. Shakhrisabz is one of the most beautiful and colourful Uzbekistan cities, which is located 80 km south of Samarkand, beyond the alpine pass of Takhta-Karacha and whatever time you visit you will discover the beauty of this great, green garden.
Its well-groomed modern appearance making it difficult to believe that this city is 2700 years old, formerly the capital of the ancient state of Sogd it had the name of Kesh and was the famous centre of culture, trade and handicrafts. In 329 BC Alexander the Great conquered the city which was the beginning of the cult of the Greek gods and the Hellenistic culture appearing there. Over the centuries Shakhrisabz was under the reign of various dynasties and in the 8th century it was the centre of anti-Arab and anti-Islam rebellion.
The final journey is the two-hour Afrosiab high-speed train journey to Tashkent where you will explore the modern city and visit the Museum of History, the Museum of Applied Art and the Khast-Imam complex before your return flight to the UK on the following day and your included UK door-to-door travel service home
Tailor Made Travel can fulfil your dreams and aspirations so contact us for help in planning your Silk Route Escorted Tour with our Travel Partner, Saga.
Call 0333 3441786 or visit your local Tailor Made Travel agency – for telephone numbers and addresses of our branches click onto this link to our website
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Tailor Made Travel Ltd act as Agents on behalf of Saga (Atol No.0308)