Uzbekistan is a very different country in many ways from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Its part Central Asian, part Middle East and you get the best of both worlds. Uzbekistan is the country at the very heart of the Silk Road, and one that has absorbed the many cultures that passed along its roads and trails.
From post-Soviet Tashkent, where an awkward but beguiling jumble of old meets very new; to Samarkand, a former kingdom of Alexander the Great and a treasure trove of intricate Islamic art and beautiful, emerald-tiled architecture; and Bukhara, a literal living museum with a skyline punctuated by dozens of azure mosques and Madrassas, kept lively by the charming chatter of local gossip – Uzbekistan’s cities each tell their own story, A country that remains swathed in myth and mystery, it’s possible to while away days at a time enraptured by the traditional culture and visual history, from which you will likely come away enthused with more questions than you arrived with.
It’s a country with a decidedly Middle Eastern feel in places, although the Russian influence is also unmistakable in Tashkent and the eastern part of the country. Once you head towards the west it gets dryer, more desert-like, and hotter. The Islamic influence becomes more apparent in some of the most stunning mosques and Medressas you are likely to see.
People are warm, generous and very friendly. There is good transport in the form of a train, even if in summer it is far too hot. It’s a pretty cheap place to visit and budget accommodation is excellent value for money.
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