Samarkand, Uzbequistan

A Monumental Legacy of the Silk Road

Registration Silhouettes
Two passersby pass through the shadows on Praça do Registão, the historic heart of Samarkand and the dynasty founded by Timur.
blue dome
Dome of the Madrassa de Tilla Qori, one of those that make up the Registão Square complex.
women's tour
Uzbek women visiting the Shaki-Zinda necropolis.
tiger chases goat
The famous mosaics of the tiger, present on the facade of the Madrassas do Registão against the precepts of Islam.
Skirt Rest
Women of several generations rest on a garden bench in Praça do Registão.
Mortuary Alley
Women pass in front of two mausoleums in the Shaki-Zinda necropolis.
About to leave
Visitors abandon the Sakhi-zida necropolis.
Car race
Children drive toy cars in a park adjacent to Praça do Registão.
Raifa Egamnazarova
An Uzbek babushka obsessed with grandchildren and children rests on a park bench in Registão Square.
Twilight Registration
The colors of the Praça do Registão in a twilight.
back to the sun
Visitors leave an old religious building on the edge of a Samarkanda madrassa.
Apricots, walnuts and others
Showcase of dried fruits in a city market.
Uzbek bread
Bread sellers in one of Samarkand's markets.
Photo with Timur
Two visitors to Samarkand are photographed by the statue of the national historical idol Timur.
In a Funeral Penumbra
Foreigners visit a tomb room in a mosque on the outskirts of Samarkand.
Grooms under stars
Grooms at a museum mural dedicated to astronomer Ulugh Beg.
An Uzbeq necropolis
Buildings of Shaki-Zinda, a necropolis that groups eleven mausoleums of prominent Samarkanda figures.
In Samarkand, cotton is the most traded commodity and Ladas and Chevrolets have replaced camels. Today, instead of caravans, Marco Polo would find Uzbekistan's worst drivers.

The long summer in Central Asia has barely begun.

The sun rises over the horizon. It reinforces the golden cross of the eight-branched cross of the Orthodox Church of St. Alexei and the green of the trees on the Avenida da Universidade.

It has been 21 years since Uzbekistan seized the opportunity given by Gorbachev and freed itself from the yoke of the Kremlin. Many Russians chose to ignore the flow of history. They stayed where they were.

Like all over the country, in Samarkand, they took advantage of the social and economic advantage previously gained by their families and filled vacancies in the best businesses and jobs. We see proudly beautiful young women walking along the sidewalks on their way downtown, on high heels, in tight dresses.

And men of haughty bearing concerned with making their investments profitable, whether they are Soviet misfits or the recent ones of the new era of the almighty President Karimov.

The Old Warehouse of Cultures and Commerce of Samarkand

Samarkand has always been seen as a crossroads of cultures. It welcomes people from all over, starting with national visitors who take advantage of the short summer vacation periods to pay tribute to the city.

statue, Timur, Uzbeq hero, Silk Road, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Two visitors to Samarkand are photographed by the statue of the national historical idol Timur.

We reach the northeast end of the avenue and find the imposing black statue of Timur, the emir of Mongolian-Turkish lineage who, in the fourteenth century, conquered one of the greatest empires in the world and founded an ambitious Islamic dynasty.

We take it unhurriedly as three Uzbeks get out of a taxi and cross the surrounding roundabout incautiously.

For one of them, a street photographer, the morning had started better than he expected. The two compatriots were about to leave town.

They rescued him from his work place so that they could take as a souvenir an image of companionship and veneration, at the feet of the great monarch, terror of the Mamluk enemies, the Ottomans and even the Knights Hospitaller.

Registão Square, the Monumental Legado Timurida de Samarkanda

Registão Square, less than a kilometer away, celebrates the splendor of the Timurid era. When we find her, she receives the caress of a battalion of dedicated gardeners and the promiscuous supervision of several “cucumbers”, as the Uzbeks call their nation's policemen, for wearing all-green uniforms.

We see colorful groups of Muslim pilgrims arriving, excited to be at last in front of the most emblematic madrassas of the mystic Turkestan. We follow their solidary movements until they disappear through the imposing porticoes.

Registration Square, Twilight, Night, Silk Road, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

The colors of the Praça do Registão in a twilight.

The Ulugh Beg (1417-1420) and the Sher-dor (1619-1636) were the first to be built. They face each other and dispute the architectural prominence of the square with the youngest, Tilya-Kori (1646-1660) who appears in front of whoever arrives.

They once functioned as prominent Islamic schools to which the population was called to hear royal proclamations and attend public executions.

And the Astronomical Legacy of Emir Ulugh Beg

Ulugh Beg, the last of the emirs of the dynasty, had much more to convey. In addition to being a leader, he proved himself a master mathematician and astronomer. It turned its madrassa into one of the best universities in the Muslim East.

It also built a pioneer space observatory.

silhouettes, registration square, silk road, samarkand, uzbekistan

Two passersby pass through the shadows on Praça do Registão, the historic heart of Samarkand and the dynasty founded by Timur.

Nowadays, the authorities have turned it into a museum, complete with open gardens that the city's inhabitants have adapted to their earthly uses.

The Uzbek Social Urgency of Marriage and Procreation

We join the entourage at a wedding. We have fun accompanying the photographers on duty as they position the couple against a sky painted on a wall and rehearse poses as passionate as they are saturated with the bride's veil hovering supported by an illusory absence of gravity.

Grooms, Ulugh Beg Museum, Silk Road, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Grooms at a museum mural dedicated to astronomer Ulugh Beg.

Marriage and families without end are sacred in Uzbekistan. Native women ask us again and again if we are married and how many children we have. The answer almost always leaves them shattered. Some cannot even conform.

Raifa Egamnazarova moved from Fergana Valley to spend the weekend in Samarkand. He wears a white handkerchief that frames the worn face of slob tender.

It allows us to photograph it and shows off its steel irises and gold teeth.

woman, garden bench, registration square, silk road, samarkand, uzbekistan

An Uzbek babushka obsessed with grandchildren and children rests on a park bench in Registão Square.

The photo session generates some apprehension in the lady: “You see there! My husband still sees this in magazines and he's going to ask me if I went shopping after all or dating to Portugal".

He ends up adopting us as children and, for a good half hour, insists that we have to give him his first grandchild the following year.

The importance of marriage and family ties came out unscathed from the communist experiments, but during the Russian colonial era and, later, in the Soviet era, several sacred buildings of Islam were destroyed and its influence on society nullified.

President Karimov's Absolutism and the Control of Islam

President Karimov has adopted part of the Soviet recipe and keeps the religion under control. There are few madrassas in the country that continue to serve the old purposes.

Those in Samarkand are no exception. In several, they house different families and occupy the students' former ground floor rooms with handicraft bazaars and other memorabilia.

Inside Sher-dor, a salesman with a portentous look from Nikhita Mikhalkov approaches Nilufar – the young guide who accompanies us. In Russian, he tries to foist him a visit to his photography shop first.

Soon, dusty video tapes that he claims to illustrate the glory of the city to which he has remained faithful: “Tell them there that they are of great interest to them.

No need to have so much work with these huge machines! It only costs 20 euros…”. Infected, therefore, other Uzbek-looking sellers try to summon us to their mini-markets and shop windows.

visitors, madraka building, silk road, samarkand, uzbekistan

Visitors leave an old religious building on the edge of a Samarkanda madrassa.

The Prosperous Era of the Silk Road

In Silk Road times, commerce must have flowed much better than it does now.

Samarkand was halfway between China (Xi An), and the civilizations of the Mediterranean, especially Rome. Valuable products from Asia and Europe traveling in both directions on long camel caravans, finding buyers on the way and at their final destinations.

The exotic silk justified the long journey of the Venetian Polo family, who came to live in neighboring Bukhara, until they continued to the east and fell into the goto of the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan. Years later, Kublai khan he appointed the Polos ambassadors for his messages to the Pope. He made them his diplomats for other missions.

According to Marco Polo, sometime after his father and uncle's second visit to the China – Marco's first –, the three Poles asked the Emperor several times to return to Europe.

tiger chases goat, madraka, registration, silk road, samarkand, uzbekistan

The famous mosaics of the tiger, present on the facade of the Madrassas do Registão against the precepts of Islam.

The Khan so enjoyed their company that he would have postponed their departure time and time again. With no alternative, the Polos resigned themselves to respecting his will.

Stalin and other Soviet leaders pursued different whims.

The Age of Cotton, the White Gold that Takes the Place of Silk

At the time of the Stalin, cotton was known as Ouro Branco, it had an enormous commercial value. Attracted by the fortune they could cultivate in the then Uzbek colony, Kremlin politicians decreed the diversion of water from the Aral Sea and from the country's main rivers to irrigate endless crops in the Kyzyl Kum and Aral Kum deserts.

The experiment proved to be as catastrophic in environmental terms as it was profitable. Cotton is, even today, the main production in Uzbekistan and in the Samarkand region.

Women, Sakhi-zida Necropolis, Uzbeq, Silk Road, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Visitors abandon the Sakhi-zida necropolis.

But not all Soviet heritages generated such controversy. A fleet of Lada cars continues to circulate in Samarkand and resists replacement by newer Chevrolet models.

We soon learn to value this longevity. The city's secondary roads prove to be destructive like few others, and Uzbek men – usually calm and courteous – are often enthusiastic behind the wheel of your aged bolide.

For some reason we can't find out, they seem to generate more adrenaline and testosterone – and, as a result, a lot more honking, arguments, collisions and dents – in Samarkand than in the rest of the country.


Journey through the Uzbekistan Pseudo-Roads

Centuries passed. Old and run-down Soviet roads ply deserts and oases once traversed by caravans from the Silk RoadSubject to their yoke for a week, we experience every stop and incursion into Uzbek places, into scenic and historic road rewards.
Dunhuang, China

An Oasis in the China of the Sands

Thousands of kilometers west of Beijing, the Great Wall has its western end and the China and other. An unexpected splash of vegetable green breaks up the arid expanse all around. Announces Dunhuang, formerly crucial outpost on the Silk Road, today an intriguing city at the base of Asia's largest sand dunes.
Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgia still Perfumed by the Rose Revolution

In 2003, a popular political uprising made the sphere of power in Georgia tilt from East to West. Since then, the capital Tbilisi has not renounced its centuries of Soviet history, nor the revolutionary assumption of integrating into Europe. When we visit, we are dazzled by the fascinating mix of their past lives.
Samarkand, Uzbekistan

The Astronomer Sultan

The grandson of one of the great conquerors of Central Asia, Ulugh Beg, preferred the sciences. In 1428, he built a space observatory in Samarkand. His studies of the stars led him to name a crater on the Moon.
Margilan, Uzbekistan

An Uzbekistan's Breadwinner

In one of the many bakeries in Margilan, worn out by the intense heat of the tandyr oven, the baker Maruf'Jon works half-baked like the distinctive traditional breads sold throughout Uzbekistan
Khiva, Uzbequistan

The Silk Road Fortress the Soviets Velved

In the 80s, Soviet leaders renewed Khiva in a softened version that, in 1990, UNESCO declared a World Heritage Site. The USSR disintegrated the following year. Khiva has preserved its new luster.
Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, The Nation That Does Not Lack Bread

Few countries employ cereals like Uzbekistan. In this republic of Central Asia, bread plays a vital and social role. The Uzbeks produce it and consume it with devotion and in abundance.
Aral Sea, Uzbequistan

The Lake that Cotton Absorbed

In 1960, the Aral Sea was one of the four largest lakes in the world. Irrigation projects dried up much of the water and fishermen's livelihoods. In return, the USSR flooded Uzbekistan with vegetable white gold.
Amboseli National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Normatior Hill
Amboseli National Park, Kenya

A Gift from the Kilimanjaro

The first European to venture into these Masai haunts was stunned by what he found. And even today, large herds of elephants and other herbivores roam the pastures irrigated by the snow of Africa's biggest mountain.
Braga or Braka or Brakra in Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 6th – Braga, Nepal

The Ancient Nepal of Braga

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Luderitz, Namibia
Architecture & Design
Lüderitz, Namibia

Wilkommen in Africa

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The small lighthouse at Kallur, highlighted in the capricious northern relief of the island of Kalsoy.
Kalsoy, Faroe Islands

A Lighthouse at the End of the Faroese World

Kalsoy is one of the most isolated islands in the Faroe archipelago. Also known as “the flute” due to its long shape and the many tunnels that serve it, a mere 75 inhabitants inhabit it. Much less than the outsiders who visit it every year, attracted by the boreal wonder of its Kallur lighthouse.
Tiredness in shades of green
Ceremonies and Festivities
Suzdal, Russia

The Suzdal Cucumber Celebrations

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Nahuatl celebration

Mexico City, Mexico

mexican soul

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Singapore Asian Capital Food, Basmati Bismi

The Asian Food Capital

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Hungduan, Philippines

Country Style Philippines

The GI's left with the end of World War II, but the music from the interior of the USA that they heard still enlivens the Cordillera de Luzon. It's by tricycle and at your own pace that we visit the Hungduan rice terraces.
combat arbiter, cockfighting, philippines

When Only Cock Fights Wake Up the Philippines

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Young people walk the main street in Chame, Nepal
Annapurna Circuit: 1th - Pokhara a ChameNepal

Finally, on the way

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Pueblos del Sur, Venezuela

The Pueblos del Sur Locainas, Their Dances and Co.

From the beginning of the XNUMXth century, with Hispanic settlers and, more recently, with Portuguese emigrants, customs and traditions well known in the Iberian Peninsula and, in particular, in northern Portugal, were consolidated in the Pueblos del Sur.
Portfolio, Got2Globe, Best Images, Photography, Images, Cleopatra, Dioscorides, Delos, Greece
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

The Earthly and the Celestial

Campeche, Mexico, Yucatan Peninsula, Can Pech, Pastéis in the air
Campeche, Mexico

Campeche Upon Can Pech

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Friends in Little Venice, Mykonos
Mykonos, Greece

The Greek Island Where the World Celebrates Summer

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Maksim, Sami people, Inari, Finland-2
Winter White
Inari, Finland

The Guardians of Boreal Europe

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Baie d'Oro, Île des Pins, New Caledonia
Île-des-Pins, New Caledonia

The Island that Leaned against Paradise

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Basotho Cowboys, Malealea, Lesotho
Malealea, Lesotho

Life in the African Kingdom of Heaven

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Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Natural Parks
unmissable roads

Great Routes, Great Trips

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Boat on the Yellow River, Gansu, China
UNESCO World Heritage
Bingling Yes, China

The Canyon of a Thousand Buddhas

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Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

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Dunes of Bazaruto Island, Mozambique
bazaruto, Mozambique

The Inverted Mirage of Mozambique

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Lhasa, Tibet

When Buddhism Tires of Meditation

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End of the World Train, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
On Rails
Ushuaia, Argentina

Last Station: End of the World

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A kind of portal
Little Havana, USA

Little Havana of the Nonconformists

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Daily life
Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

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Sheep and hikers in Mykines, Faroe Islands
Mykines, Faroe Islands

In the Faeroes FarWest

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The Sounds, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Fiordland, New Zealand

The Fjords of the Antipodes

A geological quirk made the Fiordland region the rawest and most imposing in New Zealand. Year after year, many thousands of visitors worship the sub-domain slashed between Te Anau and Milford Sound.