BUKHARA

Down the Zarafshon river, following the old Uzbekistan Silk Road is the ancient Bukhara city. The plenty of mosques, historical architectural turquoise domes, and detailed tilework transformed Bukhara’s city center into a museum.
Bukhara is a city unlike any other in Uzbekistan. Walking between the numerous arches and cupolas of the old city feels like walking back in time. But not like traveling back in time to a period where things were less advanced. No, in Bukhara it’s quite the opposite. The city breathes of an architectural genius that is seldom found in our modern metropolises. The sheer mastery and craftsmanship that went into building the minarets, cupolas, and walls of this city baffle visitors.
If you are a big fan of architecture, walking in Bukhara feels like being a kid in a candy store. It’s a place where one can walk around and spend days on end visiting some of the world’s most beautiful mosques and Madrasas. Bukhara has some buildings that are more than a thousand year old and the old center hasn’t changed much since its construction. Another thing that fascinats about the city was its numerous pools of water like the one at Lyabi Hauz that reflects the blue mosaics around it.
Bukhara is an architectural mirror of the past. While there have been some restoration efforts to repair buildings that were in ruins, these reconstructions were much more subtle than other cities like Samarkand or Khiva for example. Because of this Bukhara still feels very authentic.

Lyabi Hauz Ensemble
Lyabi Hauz means ”by the pond” in Persian. It’s the name of the area that surrounds one of the few hauz or small water ponds of Bukhara.
When Bukhara was first built, it was possible to find smaller ponds like this one in every inner courtyard of the old city. Nowadays, they are much rarer and Lyabi Hauz is one of the few remaining ponds in the city. The pond is surrounded by small restaurants, souvenir shops, a very unique Madrasah, and a mosque. This is a place that is not only visited by tourists but also by locals. It’s not uncommon to see young teenagers from Bukhara hanging out at the tables of restaurants near the pond in the evening.
The Lyabi Hauz Square is centred on an artificial reservoir (a hauz in Persian) constructed on the orders of the Grand Vizier (in today’s parlance, the Prime Minister), Nadir Divanbegi, around 1620. It was the largest of the city reservoirs, fed directly from the main canal or Shah Rud (Royal Canal) which still bisects the old town. It was built with stone steps to allow the city’s water carriers to easily fill their leather buckets, regardless of the reservoir’s current water level. 

Nadir Divanbegi Madrassa
It closes the eastern side of the ensemble and, built by the same man as the Khanagha, dates from the 1630s.
It is one of the finest examples of figurative tilework in Uzbekistan. One’s eyes immediately drift up towards the famous tympanum and its 2 Simurgh birds with two white deers clasped in their talons, watched over by a personified sun with Mongol features. With the Islamic prohibition on figurative art in a religious context in mind, its beauty immediately strikes one as sinful, much like the Sher Dor madrassa in Samarkand. 
How did such a mishap come about? Well, it was never meant to be a madrassa in the first place. At the rope-cutting ceremony of the new caravanserai built by Nadir (of which he was hoping to make a handsome personal profit in the years to come) the Imam-Quli Khan spoke highly of the new madrassa.
Madrassa?
The Divanbegi bit his lip. No one contradicted the khan of Bukhara, not even his uncle (Imam-Quli Khan was his nephew, we can assume a family feud). And thus, the portal was rebuilt and corner towers were added, as befitted a religious seminary, but to this day the madrassa still lacks a traditional layout, equipped with neither mosque nor lecture hall.
Commissioned at the same time as the hauz by Nadir Divanbegi, the Nadir Divanbegi Khanagha is placed at the perfect distance so its reflection in the surface of the water can be admired from a topchan across the pond.
The khanagha is a squat construction, unabashedly solid with an attractive manliness to it. It consists of a central cruciform mosque surrounded by a series of four hujra cells set on 2 floors which would offer accommodation to mendicant holy men.
At the centre of the building is a mosque. Its mihrab is brilliantly decorated with coloured muqarnas, reminding the visitor of the cave of Hira, where Muhammad received his first revelation according to the Quran.

Kukeldash Madrassa
The massive madrassa, north of the hauz, pre-dates all three of Nadir Divan Beghi’s constructions, having been built in the late 1560s by the philantropist Kulbaba Kukeldash (whose ritzy name means foster brother of the Khan).
This is the largest madrassa in Central Asia (60 by 80 metres). Its heavy brick facade conceals some elegant interior tilework and complicated vaulting systems. 
The Kukeldash Madrassa has now been restored to its original condition, if not its original function, and you can step inside the cool interior to admire the vaulted ceilings, colourful tilework and, of course, the numerous hujras. 

 

Magoki-Attori Mosque
It was built in the 12th century on a former Zoroastrian temple (which was previously a Buddhist temple). It is considered as Central Asia's oldest mosque. An earthquake destroyed the Mosque in 1860 and the double dome collapsed; it was rebuilt in the 20th century.
Islamic and pre-Islamic ruins were found during the archeological excavations conducted around this mosque. Baths was also discovered. The meaning of the name of this mosque is the "Pit of the Herbalists·: attributed to its proximity to the nearby spice bazaar. The history of the structure goes back to the Zoroastrian period. Zoroastrianism, a monotheistic faith, was the state religion of the Persian Empire before the rise of Islam. This site was originally occupied by a Zarathustra fire temple which was later turned into a Buddhist temple. The temple was later dedicated to the Moon god Moh. Bukhara was devastated by fire in 937, at which time the temple was burned down, along with the rest of the city. The building was used as a mosque when the Arabs came to the region of Bukhara and took it under Islamic sovereignty. The most extensive restoration was done in 1546. The western gate and the high domes were thought to have been rebuilt at that time.  
 
Fayzulla Khodjaev House Museum
Fayzulla Khodjaev was a popular Bukharian politician in the beginning of the 20th century and his father was a rich merchant. Today their house is a house-museum with different exhibitions, mostly featuring rich merchant’s life items in the 19th and 20th century. However museum is named after Fayzulla and it also has an exhibition about his life. The house is a wonderful example of the 19th century residential architecture, the rooms are full of woodcarvings and wall paintings and the inner courtyard has many beautiful details. 




Poi-Kalon Ensemble
The main landmark of city, it is an Islamic religious complex that consists of beautiful Kalon Minaret, giant Kalan Jummi Mosque and still operating Mir-i-Arab Madrasah. Kalon Minaret is 45.6 meters tall. It was called the Kalon minaret which means ”Great”. It’s so impressive that Genghis Khan decided to spare the tower after conquering Bukhara. It is known also as Tower of Death because they used to thrown down criminals from its top. Today it impresses with the details on the surface of the minaret. Next to it is the Kalan Jummi Mosque, which was built in the 16th century, and can hold 12.000 people at a time. It has beautiful courtyard and a gallery with 288 domes resting on 208 pillars. It is a great place to visit in the early morning. The best time to visit it is at sunrise. Mir-i-Arab Madrasah was also built in the 16th century and today you can only see its beautiful entrance, as it is still operating and full of students. The blue cupola of the Madrasah is covered in a golden glow during sunset and it’s definitely a sight you’ll never forget.

Domed Bazaars
From Shaybanid times, the area west and north from Lyabi-Hauz was a vast warren of market lanes, arcades and crossroad mini-bazaars whose multidomed roofs were designed to draw in cool air. Three remaining domed bazaars were among dozens of specialised bazaars in the town – Taqi Zargaron (Jeweler’s market), Taqi Telpak Furushon  (Cap Makers’ market), and Taqi Sarrafon (Moneychangers’ market). Taqi Zargaron - the word zargaron means "jewels", in fact this was the jewelers' bazaar with 36 stores. According to the chronicles of Khafizi Tanysh in 1569-70 it was the oldest and most important bazaar in the city. Taqi Telpak Furushon - It was originally the hatters' bazaar. One of the most prominent internal structures is undoubtedly the large spherical dome of 14.5 m in diameter where most of the shops are concentrated. Taqi Sarrafon - this bazaar is located not too far from Lyab-i Hauz and was the money exchange bazaar. It was built in the late 16th century, where an aryk stood.

Chor Minor Madrassah
Chor Minor which means four minarets in the Tajik language is one of the most charming buildings in Bukhara. The structure was built by Khalif Niyaz-kul, a wealthy Bukharan of Turkmen origin in the 19th century under the rule of the Janid dynasty. It has four turquoise domes and it’s a sight to behold during sunset. The four towers above this building were never intended to be used as religious minarets. The turquoise cupolas of this building are very often covered by storks nests. Chor minor is among the top things to do in Bukhara. It is a bit of a mystery what this building was used for and why it’s architecture is rather unique. For sure it was not a mosque, even though the towers seem to resemble minarets. People believe it was the entrance to a madrassah that is no longer there and the towers were used for storage. It also looks much older than it is, because it was only built in 1807. Quite a newcomer, compared to the other historical buildings in Bukhara.

Art Fortress
The Ark Fortress of Bukhara is the oldest structure in Bukhara. A massive fortress was constructed during the fifth century and occupied until it fell to Russia in 1920. Must of the fortress is now in ruins, but before it was bombed it housed essentially an entire city within its walls. It was home to the emirs of Bukhara and included a jail, workshops, mosques, an armory, and more. Today those rooms have been transformed into small museums that hold various artifacts. From atop the walls that stand between 52 and 66 feet tall, you can see nice views of the city below. There are also plenty of souvenir shops in the Ark if you aren’t already shopped out.


Bolo Hauz Mosque
It is located on the western edge of the former registan, or plaza, the Bolo Hauz stands opposite the Ark Fortress in a kosh arrangement with the registan between them. Its name means "above the pool", referring to the octagonal hauz, or artificial pond, located directly in front of it (mosques in Bukhara traditionally incorporated a hauz, whenever possible). Begun in 1712, early in the reign of Abu'l-Faiz Khan (r. 1711-47), it is one of the last and finest of Bukhara's major buildings prior to the modern era.
The most impressive feature of the Bolo Hauz Mosque are the tall, intricately carved pillars that line the front entrance. The mosque was built in the 17th century and the entire complex includes a small pond that was used as a water reservoir and a short minaret.
Visitors will need to remove their shoes to enter the mosque, but ladies do not need to worry about covering their heads here.

Ismoil Samani Mausoleum
Ismoil Samani Mausoleum is the oldest building in Bukhara, standing west of the city center in a park. The mausoleum is believed to have served as the family tomb of the Samanid dynasty (819-1005), the descendants of a noble Persian family who governed Transoxiana on behalf of the Abbasid Caliphate, based in Baghdad. The tomb is named for Ismail Samani (r. 892-907), the dynasty's most esteemed ruler, who was often celebrated for his virtues and lionized by the 11th-century Seljuk vizier Nizam al-Muk, who recommended him as a model of good leadership in his Book of Government. It was built between 892 and 943 CE and was spared the wrath of Genghis Khan as it had been buried in mud. It was rediscovered in 1934. This shrine is considered to be one of the oldest monuments in the Bukhara region.

Chashma Ayub Mausoleum
Сhashma-Ayub Mausoleum is located near the Samani Mausoleum, in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Its name means Job's well, due to the legend in which Job (Ayub) visited this place and made a well by striking the ground with his staff. The water of this well is still pure and is considered healing. The current building was constructed during the reign of Timur and features a Khwarazm-style conical dome uncommon in Bukhara.
This mosque stands out because of its pointed roof compared to the usual rounded roofs of the other mosques. It’s currently a Museum of Water Supply where it houses some old photographs of the way people carried water in the past and display of some traditional water carriers (inflatable leather bags). Put Chasma Ayub Mausoleum at the forefront of your travel plans.

Sitorai-Mokhi Khosa Palace
Located in the outskirts of the city, the Summer Palace of the last emirs of Bukhara is a fascinating place to dive into the lifestyle of the court in a time of great upheaval. It’s also just nice to have a look at all the cool stuff they had, and the unique architecture they built around them.
Summer palace of the last emirs of Bukhara Sitori-i-Mokhi Khosa was first build in the early 19th century, however the place got its today’s look in 1917. The palace has an unique style of European and Oriental features and it consists of three buildings: the main palace with beautiful courtyard, guesthouse and harem. There is also a small zoo with peacocks, a lake and rose garden.  

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