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Uzbekistan showcases the best of Islamic architecture through its monuments that take you on a ride to the previous years, when the rulers struggled, won and descended. These tall structures have marked their significant presence in the list of the most recognized monuments of the continent. The beauty of the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage city. The narrow streets, busy markets, historical monuments, and the food are going to make you fall for this place in a jiffy!

Uzbekistan

HISTORY

Uzbekistan is located in the central part of Asia. It is bordered by Kazakhstan in the northern region, Kyrgyzstan in the east, Tajikistan southeast, Afghanistan to the south, and Turkmenistan to the southwest.  Great Uzbekistan was earlier a part of the ancient Persian Empire. In the 4th century, it was captured by Alexander III of Macedon, also known as Alexander the Great, who was the king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon. Later in the 8th century, Uzbekistan was invaded by the Arab forces. They dominated the country for many centuries and also, forcefully made the Turkic tribes residing there to convert to Islam. In the thirteenth century, Ghengis Khan (founder and Emperor of the Mongol Empire) and the Mongols seized the region from the Seljuk Turks. In the 13th century, the Mongols under the rule Ghengis Khan took over the region from the Seljuk Turks. This later became part of the Timurid empire and that of his successors. But, this lasted only till the 16th century. The Uzbeks invaded the territory in the early 16th century. They merged with the other inhabitants in the area that formed as what is known as today, Uzbekistan. Their empire broke up into various other Uzbek principalities like the khanates of Khiva, Bukhara, and Kokand. In the mid-19th century, these city-states resisted Russian expansion into the area but were conquered by the Russian forces. After World War I the population of the country gave in all their efforts to stop the Red Army but they were eventually defeated. The socialist Uzbek Republic was set up in 1924. The country then later became the independent Uzbekistan Soviet Socialist Republic in 1925. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan became independent in 1991 and became a constitutional republic.

Uzbekistan History

CULTURE

Uzbekistan is known as the country of many cultures. But, the culture that can be seen majorly here is Uzbek. The Uzbek is the largest native Turkic ethnic group that forms around seventy-one percent of the entire population. The Uzbeks can also be found in other countries like  Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Russia, and China, but only in the minority. The other Turkic ethnic groups include Russians, Tajiks, and Kazakhs. The population of Uzbekistan follows the Islam religion. Though Islam was suppressed during the Soviet era. But, it has seen a progressive increase since 1991.  The traditions and culture can be easily spotted through its art, dance, clothes, and music. The music is vibrantly a loved form of the culture of Uzbekistan. It has been closely associated with its folklore and Uzbek poetry. Shashmak, is a special style of music in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. This style of music was also included by UNESCO in the list of masterpieces of oral and intangible cultural heritage of humankind.

Uzbekistan - Culture

ART

The art of Uzbekistan showcases the uniqueness and previous history that it has carried with itself and continues to do so even today. The talent of the artist man has always been appreciated and adored. General art that has been showcased in ornamentations, patterns and calligraphy artwork. But, due to the Islamic traditions forbade painting the image of people and animals. Therefore, craftsmen started creating more abstract art. Later, artists changed the way art was usually created and perceived by them. A miniature art form was then introduced by the Uzbeki artists. Small bright colourful pictures were made which were used to light up and brighten the palaces and rich houses, making it a phenomenal sight to view. The Savitsky Art Museum and the Art Museum display a large fraction of paintings, art, and crafts for any person to witness the collections that the country has gathered over the years. Not only paintings, but Uzbekistan art can also be seen on many utensils, fabric and dresses, and home decoration pieces.

Uzbekistan - Art & Craft

FOOD

Uzbek food is considered as one of the most delicious cuisines in the world. There are many dishes which will leave your mouth watering. The cuisine is savoury, and just a bit of it will surely make you wanting for more. Uzbek cuisines such as plov, dimlama, buglama, shurpa, mastava, and more have made places in the menus of many restaurants over the world. The way a lot of Uzbek food is made involves steps that are around centuries-old. The process of preparing food is also accompanied by various rituals that are just fascinating to witness. The national Uzbek food widely uses a lot of meat like mutton, beef and horse meat. Different parts of Uzbekistan are known to cook their food cook in their own traditional way. In the north region, people tend to prefer eating plov, roasted meat, pastry, and lepeshka. But, in the south part of the country, people like to prepare a host of fancy dishes that prominently consist of rice and vegetables and some delicious desserts too. The native people of Uzbekistan usually eat their food with their hands while sitting at the floor or at the low table called the dastarkhan. The meal begins with a serving of some sweets and fruits. The next round consists of salads and vegetables. Then a bowl of soup like savory shurpa, thick mastava, etc. is passed. Repast is then finished with main dishes like manti, lagman, shashlik and plov.

Uzbekistan - Food Cuisine

 

PLACES TO VISIT

  • The Ark of Bukhara is a fort that was built to protect the town. The rulers of Bukhara held court for about 1500 years. The Ark of Bukhara is a massive fort that was created in the 5th century in the northwestern region of contemporary Bukhara. The fort encompasses a rectangle shape whose walls have been created at a great height of 66 ft. The ceremonial entrance into the citadel is architecturally framed by two 18th-century towers. The entrance of the fort consists of two stunning architecturally created 18th-century towers. The upper parts of the towers have been well constructed with beautiful galleries, rooms, and terraces. The fort has a rising ramp that leads you to a raised portal and a long passage to the mosque of Dzhuma. The covered corridor offers access to the storerooms and prison cells. In the middle of the Ark is located a large complex of buildings. The most prestigious and well-preserved part of the Ark is the mosque of Ul’dukhtaron. It was constructed in the 4th century BC. The Ark included includes emir lodging, throne-room, police department, stables, stores of clothes, carpets, utensils, treasures, armoury, jail, workshops, mint place, mazars and other buildings.
Ark of Bukhara
  • The Museum of the History of Timurids or the Amir Timur Museum is one of the most popular tourist spots of Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The museum was built in 2006 that has been created in the oriental style of architecture as a dedication to  Amir Timur who was the founder and first ruler of the Timurid Empire.  The building has a stunning round dome in turquoise colour. The building has been surrounded by white colour columns that appear as a support to the roof. The intricately carved corners of the building just add a touch of beauty to this museum. Over the years, the Amir Timur Museum has collected more than three thousand displays that convey the struggles and wars of the city and country. The huge display of artefacts inside the museum consists of various paintings, historical documents that share the life and activity of Amir Timur. Other significant things featured inside from various previous rulers include manuscripts, weapons, old clothes, utensils, and coins. Hence, giving you insight on the culture and history of the Timurid Dynasty. A lesser-known fact is that the architecture of the Museum has been purposely constructed to replicate the Gur-e Amir mausoleum in Samarkand.
  • The Registan Square is located in the city of Samarkand. The three sides of the square are surrounded by grand madrassah, entrances of which are facing the centre of the space. All three buildings have a uniquely different architecture that enhances the beauty of the place. In 2001, Samarkand was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The Registan was earlier used as a place where the authorities used to gather people around to announce khan’s orders, hold festival celebrations and executions. Many rulers in their rulership would change the main purpose of the square. But, even after so many years of changes, Registan was and is still the centre of the city’s social life.The Registan has three madrassahs on the square the Ulughbek, Sherdor, and Tilla-Kori. These three madrassahs have been constructed under the reign of two rulers. The Ulughbek Madrassah is named after the great mathematician and astronomer Ulughbek. The construction began in 1409 and ended after eleven years. The word madrassah has been derived from the Arabic language that translates into ‘teaching and learning place’. It was earlier the largest scientific-educational establishment in Samarkand where students were taught subjects like philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, and theology. The second Madrassah, the Sher-Dor was built in 1612 under the guidance of Yalangtush Bahadur. Even though its construction was ongoing, he decided to build another building, the Tilla-Kori Madrassah.
  • The Chor Minor or Madrasah of Khalif Niyaz-kul, was built in 1807 and is located in the city of Bukhara, Uzbekistan. It was built by Khalif Niazkul who was a rich Bukharian merchant.’Chor Minor’ translates into four towers that are not exactly minarets. The structure has been recognized for being constructed in the most beautiful and unusual manner.  The corners of the square-rectangular madrasah building have been decorated with four small minarets that are crowned with turquoise blue domes. Each of the four minarets have a different shape that reflects the four different religions of the world. Three of these towers are storage houses, the fourth one acts as a stair that takes you on top of the mosque. You can spot elements similar to a cross, a Christian fish motif, Buddhist praying-wheel, Zoroastrian and Islamic themed objects. Though the Chor Minor is a beautifully created structure, many years of studies and research has still not been able to figure out the inspiration behind its structure. The Chor Minor was earlier part of the Madrasa complex. Later, the complex was destroyed but these four-tower Chor Minor, a mosque, courtyard, and a pond are still intact for visitors to experience it.
Chor Minor
  • The Palace of Khudayar Khan, also known as the Pearl of Kokand, was built in 1873 by the last ruler of the Kokand Khanate, Khudayar Khan. Just two years after its construction, he was forced into exile by his own people. His successors fought for the throne, but the Russians returned Khudayar to his throne. The construction of the palace consists of A ramp leads you to its entrance that has been bordered with poles to ward off the evil eye. The right side of the palace has the former chief secretary’s office that contains a display of stuffed animals and cotton plants. Further, is the restored office and mosque of Khudayar’s war minister. The place where Khudayar Khan used to receive his bowing guests has now been converted into a museum of jewellery, clothing, and metalware. Russian troops later used the hall as a chapel. Khudayar Kan’s second receiving room was his luxurious bedroom, where the painting on top of the wall has been left unrestored. Out of the total 113 rooms, only 19 remain intact today. Visitors will get to experience a sense of struggle that Kha had to go through in his lifetime. The years of history that remain in the form of antiques enhance the entire experience and beauty of the palace. But, many also did get destroyed in the early years of Soviet rule.

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