Samarkand & Shakhrisabz
The vibrant Uzbek capital Tashkent was one of the most important caravan stops on the Eurasian trade routes and its Chorsu bazaar is still a lively place to wander. Next we explore exquisite Samarkand, a treasure trove of ancient buildings including the huge blue-tiled medrassahs of the city's jewel, Registan Square. On the road leading south we discover Shakhrisabz, birthplace of Tamerlane, where the backstreets reveal the ghostly ruins of a city which once rivalled Samarkand in its magnificence.
Khiva to Bokhara
An overnight train takes us to Urgench and the ancient walled city of Khiva where we discover the maze of twisting alleyways, medieval mosques, tombs and palaces on foot. Bokhara also boasts its fair share of historic monuments and has an interesting old quarter of alleyways and courtyards - the ideal place to sit back and enjoy sipping a fragrant “kokchai” (green tea).
Land of the Turkmen
Travelling to Turkmenistan, we travel across the Karakum Desert to Mary, gateway to ancient Merv. Once one of the greatest cities in the whole of Central Asia, its ruins lie scattered across 100 sq kilometres. We also explore the capital Ashgabat, with its many monuments in homage to the late and somewhat controversial President Niayzov, as well as more ancient sites such as the Pathian fortress of Nissa.
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