Chor Minor Madrassah

Bukhara (also spelled Bokhara, Bukhoro, or Buxoro) in Uzbekistan was historically one of the great trading cities along the Silk Road. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In Sanskrit the word Bukhara means "abbey". Bukhara -"The city of museums", contains more than 140 architectural monuments of the Middle Ages. Such ensembles as Poi - Kalan, Kosh Madras, mausoleum of Ismail Samoni, minaret of Kalyan and others were built 2300 years ago, and today they attract the great attention of tourists. The famous poets like Narshahi, Rudaki Dakiki and others have played an important role in the development of Bukhara.



Legend of Siavash

According to the legend Bukhara was founded by King Siavash, a legendary Persian prince from the beginnings of the Persian Empire. After the treason of his stepmother Sudabeh, who accused him that he wanted to seduce her and betray his father, Siavash went into exile to Turan. Afrasiab, the King of Samarkand, married his daughter Ferganiza(Farangis) to him and granted him a vassal kingdom in the oasis of Bukhara. Later, Siavash was accused that he wanted to overthrow King Afrasiab and was executed in front of his wife. Siavash's father sent Rostam, the legendary Persian hero to Turan and Rostam brought Ferganiza (Farangis) and their son Kai Khosrow back to Persia.

Pre-Islamic times

The history of Bukhara can be traced back to the 4th or 5th cent. AD, the date of the first coins with Sogdian writing in an alphabet derived from Aramaic. There are no reports of a city in the area of Bukhara at the time of Alexander the Great.

From the Arab invasions to the Mongols

At the time of the Arab conquests, Bukhara was ruled by the Sogdian dynasty of the Bokar-kodats. Arab armies first appeared before Bukhara in the caliphate of Moawia, after Obayd-Allāh b. Zīād b. Abīhe crossed the Oxus (53-54/673-74). Bukhara was ruled by a woman, Katun, as regent for her infant son. She had to submit and to pay a tribute of a million dirhams and 4,000 slaves. Permanent Arab control in the city was established by Qotayba b. Moslem Baheli, who after arduous campaigns in Sogdia (87-90/706-09) overcame the resistance of the Bukharans and their Turkish allies and placed an Arab garrison in the city, forcing every home owner to share his residence with Arabs. In 94/712-13 he erected the first mosque in Bukhara within the citadel, on the site of a former Buddhist or Zoroastrian temple. In 166/782, the governor of Khorasan Fażl b. Solayman Ṭusi built walls to protect Bukhara against Turkish attacks.

In the 3rd/9th cent. the notables of Bukhara asked the Samanid ruler of Samarqand and Farḡāna Nasr b.Ahmad for help, who in 260/874 sent his younger brother Ismail to the city. Bukhara enjoyed a period of prosperity lasting for 150 years and under the patronage of the Samanid amirs served as a cultural center for Arabic learning and Persian literature. A passage by Taalebi, the famous scholar of Nisapur, praises Bukhara in the era of the Samanids as “the focus of splendour, the Kaba of the empire, the meeting-place of the unique figures of the age, the rising-place of the stars of the literary men of the world, and the forum for the outstanding per­sonages of the time”. Geographers from the Samanid period mention the division of the city in a citadel (ko­handez), the town proper (sahrestan) and a suburb (rabat). The citadel contained the palace and the original mosque of Qotayba b. Moslem. To its east, dividing it from the sahrestan, was the Rigestan, an open, sandy space, where Amir Naṣr b. Aḥmad (301-33/914-43) built a palace and where the dīvāns of the administration were situated. In this century, an outer wall with eleven gates was built. The city had clearly expanded, though geographers still criticize it as an unsanitary and crowded place.

In 389/999 Bukhara was occupied by the Ilak (Ilig) Nasr b. Ali. For the next 150 years it was part of the western Qarakhanid khanate, ruled by descendants of the Ilak Nasr. Under the loose, decentralized rule of the Turkish tribesmen, Bukhara lost its political importance. The reign of Arslan Khan Moḥammad b. Solayman (495-524/1102-30) brought peace to the city. He also rebuilt the citadel and city walls, and erected a new Friday mosque and two new palaces.

After the Mongol invasion

Bukhara was con­quered by Gengiz Khan in 616/1220. All inhabitants were driven out and the city was burned., but in the time of Ögedey Qaan (626-39/1229-41) the city was prosperous again. Ögedey placed the administration of all the settled regions of Central Asia in the hands of a Muslim merchant trusted by the Mongols, who resided in Ḵojand and reported directly to the supreme khan. The revival of prosperity of Bukhara may have been due to his efforts. He was succeeded at Bukhara by his son Masud Beg, who remained in authority until his death in 688/1289, despite feuds among the Mongol successor states and repeated shifts in their borders within Central Asia. Masud Beg was buried in the madrasa that he had built at Bukhara. The skilled craftsmen inhabiting Bukhara were apportioned among the four divi­sions of the Mongol empire), each belonging to one of Genghis Khan’s sons and his descendants; each division was entitled to revenues from the portion of the population assigned to it.

The Khanate of Bukhara

The Khanate of Bukhara came into existence after the conquest of Samarkand and Bukhara by Muhammad Shaybani. The Shaybanid Dynasty ruled the khanate from 1506 until 1598. Under their rule Bukhara became a center of arts and literature. Bukhara attracted skilled craftsmen of calligraphy and miniature painting, poets and theologians. Abd al-Aziz Jhan (1533-1550) established a library "having no equal". The khanate of Bukhara reached its greatest influence under Abdullah Khan II, who reigned from 1577 to 1598.

The Khanate of Bukhara was governed by the Janid Dynasty (Astrakhanids) in the 17th and 18th cent. It was conquered by Nadir Shah of Iran in 1740. After his death the khanate was controlled by descendants of the Uzbek emir Khudayar Bi through the position of "ataliq" (prime minister). The khanate became the Emirate of Bukhara in 1785.

Get in

By plane

The   Bukhara International Airport (IATA:BHK). has daily flights to Tashkent ($50) plus a weekly flight to Urgench ($57) with Uzbekistan Airways. Other destinations are Saint Petersburg with Rossiya Airlines or Moscow with Transaero Airlines.Domestic tickets can only be bought at the airport in US$.

By train

The   Bukhara Railway Station (Бухара 1). is located 9km southeast of the city in Kagan. Marshrutka 268 is running to and from the city centre at   Lyabi-Haus stop. for 1000 som. There are two daily trains connecting Bukhara with Tashkent via Samarkand. For departure times see the Uzbekistan#Get around section.

By bus or taxi

Buses and taxis to Tashkent and Samarkand leave from the   Northern Bus Station (about 3 km north of the city center near the Karvon Bazaar). A seat in a bus to Tashkent costs about UZS 20000 and the journey to Tashkent takes about 11 hours. A seat in a bus to Samarkand costs about UZS 15000 and the journey to Samarkand takes about 5 hours. A seat in a shared taxi to Samarkand costs about UZS 25000 and the journey to Samarkand takes about 3 hours. A seat in a shared taxi to Tashkent costs about UZS 30000 and the journey to Samarkand takes about 7 hours. [Aug 2012]

Buses and taxis to Urgench and Khiva leave from   Karvon Bazaar. A seat in a shared taxi to Urgench costs about UZS 70.000 and the journey takes about 4 and a half hours. The buses have irregular schedule and they come from Tashkent so you might be standing. Bus 2 or 21 will bring you from the train station to the North Bus Station and Karvon Bazaar. [Aug 2012].

Shared taxis to Karshi, Shakhrizabz, Termiz and Denau on the Tajik border leave from the   Sharq Bus Station (east of the center). A seat to Karshi (1.5h) costs 6000 som, to Shakhrizabz (4h) 12,000 som, to Termiz (6h) 20,000 som and Denau (6h) 25,000 som.

To Turkmenistan border you have to take a shared taxi or marshrutka from the   Kolkhozny Bazaar. to Qarakol or Olot. A seat in a shared taxi costs about 2,000 som and the trip takes about 40 minutes. You will have to hire a taxi from here to the border for about 2,000 som. Olot is 7 km from the Uzbek-Turkmenistan border. A taxi from the border to Turkmenabat will cost about $0.50 and the trip will take 40 minutes.

By car

Bukhara is 560 km from Tashkent, 270 km from Samarkand, 470 km form Khiva, 920 km from Andizhan, 900 km from Fergana, 160 km from Karshi, 800 km from Kokand, 560 km from Nukus, 280 km from Shahrisabz, 380 km from Termez and 440 km from Urgench. To Khiva, you can take a collective taxi at 50,000 UZS per person in downtown or hire a private taxi for $70–80 per car. To Samarkand, you can hire a private taxi for $60. Alternatively you can make 2 day excursion including Aydar Kul Yurt for $120 per car. Some of the recommended private drivers include Fahkredine (based in Bukhara, owns Nexia) on+998 93 472 5060 or Shukhrat (based in Samarkand, owns Lacetti) on +998 66 265 5522. Both speak basic English.

Get around

The Old Town is where you want to be. The beauty of it is that there is no need at all for any form of transport other than your feet as the town is so small. Also, many of the streets are far too slim to allow cars down them.


The main language of Bukhara is the Tajik dialect of Persian. Russian is the second language and Uzbek is used but to a lesser extant. Bukhara, along with Samarqand and other cities in Central and Southern Uzbekistan have been historically populated by Ethnic Tajiks and Bukharian Jews who spoke Tajik along with their own dialects which today include some Uzbek and a lot of Russian loan words.


Kalon Minaret

Historical and architectural monuments of Bukhara : • The Poi Kalyan Complex, • An Ensemble of Lyabi -Khauz, • Madrasah of Ulugbek, • Mausoleum of Sayfiddin Bukharzi and Bayan Quli, • The Kosh Madrasah Ensemble, • The Palace of Emir of Bukhara "Sitorai Mohi Hossa", • Chor-Bakr - the burial place of shih Jubaeri family . And also: • An Ensemble of Bola - Hauz, • The Cemetery of Chashmoi - Ayub, • Madrasah of Abdulla - han, • Madrasah of Madari - han, • The Mosque of Baland (High), • An Ensemble of Gaukushon, • Honaka of Zaynutdin Hodji, • Hanaka of Nodir Divanbegi, • Madrasah of Abdulaziz Han, • The Mosque of Bola Hauz, • The Mosque of Namazgoh, • Hanaka of Fayzabad



A Bokhara carpet

Bukhara is famous for rugs. Historically, rugs woven by nomadic or village Turkomans were called "Bokhara carpets" because the city was a center for trading them. Today the city itself also produces many rugs.


Beware of scams! Travelers report unfair behavior and overcharged bills at Shaxriston restaurant (same street as Hammam Bozori Kord) and Asia Cafe (next to Lyabi Hauz).



There are numerous bed and breakfast places around the Lyabi Hauze complex. These are excellent for independent travellers. Rooms can be had quite cheap (less than $20 per person but standards and prices vary place to place), but make sure you look at a few before you make your choice. Some of them are amazing houses set round courtyards and provide an unforgettable experience much better than any hotel. You can also expect some top quality breakfasts with fruit, bread, cheese, yoghurt, and an unlimited supply of tea!


Go next

Most travellers head from Bukhara to the other two silk road cities of Samarkand (3h by train) or Khiva (5h by shared taxi).

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, February 07, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.