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.
Rhinoceros, PN Kaziranga, Assam, India
PN Kaziranga, India

The Indian Monoceros Stronghold

Situated in the state of Assam, south of the great Brahmaputra river, PN Kaziranga occupies a vast area of ​​alluvial swamp. Two-thirds of the rhinocerus unicornis around the world, there are around 100 tigers, 1200 elephants and many other animals. Pressured by human proximity and the inevitable poaching, this precious park has not been able to protect itself from the hyperbolic floods of the monsoons and from some controversies.
Aurora lights up the Pisang Valley, Nepal.
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Banana, Nepal

An Unexpected Snowy Aurora

At the first glimmers of light, the sight of the white mantle that had covered the village during the night dazzles us. With one of the toughest walks on the Annapurna Circuit ahead of us, we postponed the match as much as possible. Annoyed, we left Upper Pisang towards Escort when the last snow faded.
Luderitz, Namibia
Architecture & Design
Lüderitz, Namibia

Wilkommen in Africa

Chancellor Bismarck has always disdained overseas possessions. Against his will and all odds, in the middle of the Race for Africa, merchant Adolf Lüderitz forced Germany to take over an inhospitable corner of the continent. The homonymous city prospered and preserves one of the most eccentric heritages of the Germanic empire.
Tibetan heights, altitude sickness, mountain prevent to treat, travel

Altitude Sickness: the Grievances of Getting Mountain Sick

When traveling, it happens that we find ourselves confronted with the lack of time to explore a place as unmissable as it is high. Medicine and previous experiences with Altitude Evil dictate that we should not risk ascending in a hurry.
Ceremonies and Festivities
Pentecost Island, Vanuatu

Naghol: Bungee Jumping without Modern Touches

At Pentecost, in their late teens, young people launch themselves from a tower with only lianas tied to their ankles. Bungee cords and harnesses are inappropriate fussiness from initiation to adulthood.
Colored Nationalism
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

The Desired City

Many treasures passed through Cartagena before being handed over to the Spanish Crown - more so than the pirates who tried to plunder them. Today, the walls protect a majestic city always ready to "rumbear".
Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

The Fish Market That Lost its Freshness

In a year, each Japanese eats more than their weight in fish and shellfish. Since 1935, a considerable part was processed and sold in the largest fish market in the world. Tsukiji was terminated in October 2018, and replaced by Toyosu's.

Man: an Ever Tested Species

It's in our genes. For the pleasure of participating, for titles, honor or money, competitions give meaning to the world. Some are more eccentric than others.
Spectator, Melbourne Cricket Ground-Rules footbal, Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia

The Football the Australians Rule

Although played since 1841, Australian Football has only conquered part of the big island. Internationalization has never gone beyond paper, held back by competition from rugby and classical football.
Moçamedes to PN Iona, Namibe, Angola

Grand entrance to the Angola of the Dunes

Still with Moçâmedes as a starting point, we traveled in search of the sands of Namibe and Iona National Park. The cacimbo meteorology prevents the continuation between the Atlantic and the dunes to the stunning south of Baía dos Tigres. It will only be a matter of time.
Fort São Filipe, Cidade Velha, Santiago Island, Cape Verde
Cidade Velha, Cape Verde

Cidade Velha: the Ancient of the Tropico-Colonial Cities

It was the first settlement founded by Europeans below the Tropic of Cancer. In crucial times for Portuguese expansion to Africa and South America and for the slave trade that accompanied it, Cidade Velha became a poignant but unavoidable legacy of Cape Verdean origins.

Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

life outside

Masada fortress, Israel
Massada, Israel

Massada: The Ultimate Jewish Fortress

In AD 73, after months of siege, a Roman legion found that the resisters at the top of Masada had committed suicide. Once again Jewish, this fortress is now the supreme symbol of Zionist determination
Singapore, Success and Monotony Island

The Island of Success and Monotony

Accustomed to planning and winning, Singapore seduces and recruits ambitious people from all over the world. At the same time, it seems to bore to death some of its most creative inhabitants.
Era Susi towed by dog, Oulanka, Finland
Winter White
PN Oulanka, Finland

A Slightly Lonesome Wolf

Jukka “Era-Susi” Nordman has created one of the largest packs of sled dogs in the world. He became one of Finland's most iconic characters but remains faithful to his nickname: Wilderness Wolf.
Baie d'Oro, Île des Pins, New Caledonia
Île-des-Pins, New Caledonia

The Island that Leaned against Paradise

In 1964, Katsura Morimura delighted the Japan with a turquoise novel set in Ouvéa. But the neighboring Île-des-Pins has taken over the title "The Nearest Island to Paradise" and thrills its visitors.
Porto Santo, view to the south of Pico Branco
Terra Chã and Pico Branco footpaths, Porto Santo

Pico Branco, Terra Chã and Other Whims of the Golden Island

In its northeast corner, Porto Santo is another thing. With its back facing south and its large beach, we unveil a mountainous, rugged and even wooded coastline, dotted with islets that dot an even bluer Atlantic.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Pitões das Junias, Montalegre, Portugal
Natural Parks
Montalegre, Portugal

Through Alto do Barroso, Top of Trás-os-Montes

we moved from Terras de Bouro for those of Barroso. Based in Montalegre, we wander around the discovery of Paredes do Rio, Tourém, Pitões das Júnias and its monastery, stunning villages on the border of Portugal. If it is true that Barroso has had more inhabitants, visitors should not miss it.
Jeep crosses Damaraland, Namibia
UNESCO World Heritage
Damaraland, Namíbia

Namibia On the Rocks

Hundreds of kilometers north of Swakopmund, many more of Swakopmund's iconic dunes Sossuvlei, Damaraland is home to deserts interspersed with hills of reddish rock, the highest mountain and ancient rock art of the young nation. the settlers South Africans they named this region after the Damara, one of the Namibian ethnic groups. Only these and other inhabitants prove that it remains on Earth.
View from the top of Mount Vaea and the tomb, Vailima village, Robert Louis Stevenson, Upolu, Samoa
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

At age 30, the Scottish writer began looking for a place to save him from his cursed body. In Upolu and the Samoans, he found a welcoming refuge to which he gave his heart and soul.
Mangrove between Ibo and Quirimba Island-Mozambique
Ibo Island a Quirimba IslandMozambique

Ibo to Quirimba with the Tide

For centuries, the natives have traveled in and out of the mangrove between the island of Ibo and Quirimba, in the time that the overwhelming return trip from the Indian Ocean grants them. Discovering the region, intrigued by the eccentricity of the route, we follow its amphibious steps.
China's occupation of Tibet, Roof of the World, The occupying forces
Lhasa, Tibet

The Sino-Demolition of the Roof of the World

Any debate about sovereignty is incidental and a waste of time. Anyone who wants to be dazzled by the purity, affability and exoticism of Tibetan culture should visit the territory as soon as possible. The Han civilizational greed that moves China will soon bury millenary Tibet.
white pass yukon train, Skagway, Gold Route, Alaska, USA
On Rails
Skagway, Alaska

A Klondike's Gold Fever Variant

The last great American gold rush is long over. These days, hundreds of cruise ships each summer pour thousands of well-heeled visitors into the shop-lined streets of Skagway.
cowboys oceania, rodeo, el caballo, perth, australia
Perth, Australia

The Oceania Cowboys

Texas is on the other side of the world, but there is no shortage of cowboys in the country of koalas and kangaroos. Outback rodeos recreate the original version and 8 seconds lasts no less in the Australian Western.
herd, foot-and-mouth disease, weak meat, colonia pellegrini, argentina
Daily life
Colónia Pellegrini, Argentina

When the Meat is Weak

The unmistakable flavor of Argentine beef is well known. But this wealth is more vulnerable than you think. The threat of foot-and-mouth disease, in particular, keeps authorities and growers afloat.
Cliffs above the Valley of Desolation, near Graaf Reinet, South Africa
Graaf-Reinet, South Africa

A Boer Spear in South Africa

In early colonial times, Dutch explorers and settlers were terrified of the Karoo, a region of great heat, great cold, great floods and severe droughts. Until the Dutch East India Company founded Graaf-Reinet there. Since then, the fourth oldest city in the rainbow nation it thrived at a fascinating crossroads in its history.
Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii Wrinkles
Scenic Flights
napali coast, Hawaii

Hawaii's Dazzling Wrinkles

Kauai is the greenest and rainiest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also the oldest. As we explore its Napalo Coast by land, sea and air, we are amazed to see how the passage of millennia has only favored it.