The region’s cradle of culture for more than two millennia, Uzbekistan is the proud home to a spellbinding arsenal of architecture and ancient cities, all deeply infused with the bloody, fascinating history of the Silk Road. In terms of sights alone, Uzbekistan is Central Asia’s biggest draw and most impressive showstopper.
Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva never fail to impress visitors with their fabulous mosques, medressas and mausoleums, while its more eccentric attractions, such as the fast disappearing Aral Sea, the fortresses of desperately remote Karakalpakstan, its boom town capital Tashkent and the ecotourism opportunities of the Nuratau Mountains, mean that even the most diverse tastes can be catered for.
Despite being a harshly governed police state, Uzbekistan remains an extremely friendly country where hospitality remains an essential element of daily life and you’ll be made to feel genuinely welcome by the people you meet.
No country in Central Asia seems to have it so good, yet at the same time have it so bad, as Uzbekistan. The region’s cradle of culture for more than two millennia, it is the proud home to a spellbinding
arsenal of architecture and artefacts, all deeply infused with
the raw, fascinating history of the country. But as students of that history know, it’s also sprung a few bad apples over the years. Tyrants enamoured by the country’s physical bounty have run the territory we now call Uzbekistan since time immemorial.
Concentrating on the good, if there was a Hall of Fame for Central Asian cities, Uzbekistan would own the top-three entries: Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva. The names practically epitomize the region, conjuring up images of knife-twirling dervishes, serpentine desertcaravans and architecture that blends with the sand. Seen in person, the Big Three do not disappoint (the occasional overzealous restorative effort notwithstanding). Alas, they sometimes overshadow the country’s other attractions, which include dazzling bazaars, ancient fortresses like the one at Nurata, and an impressive array of largely unsung natural attractions. But at least that means you’ll have the hiking and adventure-sport opportunities of Chimgan & around to yourself!
All of this goes a long way to eclipse the bad memories evoked by names like
Timur, Nasrullah Khan and Stalin. The country’s long-serving current leader, Islam Karimov, is no saint either. Despite it all, the Uzbek people remain good-spirited and genuinely hospitable – yet another prime attraction in this oddly endearing country.Show in Lonely Planet