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.
Serengeti, Great Savannah Migration, Tanzania, wildebeest on river
Serengeti NP, Tanzania

The Great Migration of the Endless Savanna

In these prairies that the Masai people say syringet (run forever), millions of wildebeests and other herbivores chase the rains. For predators, their arrival and that of the monsoon are the same salvation.
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.
Architecture & Design
napier, New Zealand

Back to the 30s – Old-Fashioned Car Tour

In a city rebuilt in Art Deco and with an atmosphere of the "crazy years" and beyond, the adequate means of transportation are the elegant classic automobiles of that era. In Napier, they are everywhere.
Boats on ice, Hailuoto Island, Finland.
Hailuoto, Finland

A Refuge in the Gulf of Bothnia

During winter, the island of Hailuoto is connected to the rest of Finland by the country's longest ice road. Most of its 986 inhabitants esteem, above all, the distance that the island grants them.
The Crucifixion in Helsinki
Ceremonies and Festivities
Helsinki, Finland

A Frigid-Scholarly Via Crucis

When Holy Week arrives, Helsinki shows its belief. Despite the freezing cold, little dressed actors star in a sophisticated re-enactment of Via Crucis through streets full of spectators.
fortress wall of Novgorod and the Orthodox Cathedral of Hagia Sophia, Russia.
Novgorod, Russia

Mother Russia's Viking Grandmother

For most of the past century, the USSR authorities have omitted part of the origins of the Russian people. But history leaves no room for doubt. Long before the rise and supremacy of the tsars and the soviets, the first Scandinavian settlers founded their mighty nation in Novgorod.
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.
Tatooine on Earth
Matmata Tataouine:  Tunisia

Star Wars Earth Base

For security reasons, the planet Tatooine from "The Force Awakens" was filmed in Abu Dhabi. We step back into the cosmic calendar and revisit some of the Tunisian places with the most impact in the saga.  
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.
Young people walk the main street in Chame, Nepal
Annapurna Circuit: 1th - Pokhara a ChameNepal

Finally, on the way

After several days of preparation in Pokhara, we left towards the Himalayas. The walking route only starts in Chame, at 2670 meters of altitude, with the snowy peaks of the Annapurna mountain range already in sight. Until then, we complete a painful but necessary road preamble to its subtropical base.
Islamic silhouettes

Istanbul, Turkey

Where East meets West, Turkey Seeks its Way

An emblematic and grandiose metropolis, Istanbul lives at a crossroads. As Turkey in general, divided between secularism and Islam, tradition and modernity, it still doesn't know which way to go

sunlight photography, sun, lights
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 2)

One Sun, So Many Lights

Most travel photos are taken in sunlight. Sunlight and weather form a capricious interaction. Learn how to predict, detect and use at its best.
Lights of Ogimachi, Shirakawa-go, Ogimachi, Japan, Village of Houses in Gassho
Ogimashi, Japan

A Village Faithful to the A

Ogimashi reveals a fascinating heritage of Japanese adaptability. Located in one of the most snowy places on Earth, this village has perfected houses with real anti-collapse structures.
Alcatraz Island, California, United States
Alcatraz, San Francisco, USA

Back to the Rock

Forty years after his sentence ended, the former Alcatraz prison receives more visitors than ever. A few minutes of his seclusion explain why The Rock's imagination made the worst criminals shiver.
Passengers on the frozen surface of the Gulf of Bothnia, at the base of the "Sampo" icebreaker, Finland
Winter White
Kemi, Finland

It's No "Love Boat". Breaks the Ice since 1961

Built to maintain waterways through the most extreme arctic winter, the icebreaker Sampo” fulfilled its mission between Finland and Sweden for 30 years. In 1988, he reformed and dedicated himself to shorter trips that allow passengers to float in a newly opened channel in the Gulf of Bothnia, in clothes that, more than special, seem spacey.
On the Crime and Punishment trail, St. Petersburg, Russia, Vladimirskaya
Saint Petersburg, Russia

On the Trail of "Crime and Punishment"

In St. Petersburg, we cannot resist investigating the inspiration for the base characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky's most famous novel: his own pities and the miseries of certain fellow citizens.
Asian buffalo herd, Maguri Beel, Assam, India
Maguri Bill, India

A Wetland in the Far East of India

The Maguri Bill occupies an amphibious area in the Assamese vicinity of the river Brahmaputra. It is praised as an incredible habitat especially for birds. When we navigate it in gondola mode, we are faced with much (but much) more life than just the asada.
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.
Cable car connecting Puerto Plata to the top of PN Isabel de Torres
Natural Parks
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

The Dominican Home Silver

Puerto Plata resulted from the abandonment of La Isabela, the second attempt at a Hispanic colony in the Americas. Almost half a millennium after Columbus's landing, it inaugurated the nation's inexorable tourist phenomenon. In a lightning passage through the province, we see how the sea, the mountains, the people and the Caribbean sun keep it shining.
Lonely Walk, Namib Desert, Sossusvlei, Namibia, dune base acacia
UNESCO World Heritage
Sossusvlei, Namíbia

The Namibe Dead End of Sossusvlei

When it flows, the ephemeral Tsauchab river meanders 150km from the mountains of Naukluft. Arriving in Sossusvlei, you get lost in a sea of ​​sand mountains that compete for the sky. The natives and settlers called it a swamp of no return. Anyone who discovers these far-fetched parts of Namibia always thinks of returning.
Era Susi towed by dog, Oulanka, Finland
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.
View of Casa Iguana, Corn islands, pure caribbean, nicaragua
Corn Islands - Islas del Maíz , Nicaragua

pure caribbean

Perfect tropical settings and genuine local life are the only luxuries available in the so-called Corn Islands or Corn Islands, an archipelago lost in the Central American confines of the Caribbean Sea.
Armenia Cradle Christianity, Mount Aratat

The Cradle of the Official Christianity

Just 268 years after Jesus' death, a nation will have become the first to accept the Christian faith by royal decree. This nation still preserves its own Apostolic Church and some of the oldest Christian temples in the world. Traveling through the Caucasus, we visit them in the footsteps of Gregory the Illuminator, the patriarch who inspires Armenia's spiritual life.
On Rails
On Rails

Train Travel: The World Best on Rails

No way to travel is as repetitive and enriching as going on rails. Climb aboard these disparate carriages and trains and enjoy the best scenery in the world on Rails.
Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

Work is essential to most lives. But, certain jobs impose a degree of effort, monotony or danger that only a few chosen ones can measure up to.
the projectionist
Daily life
Sainte-Luce, Martinique

The Nostalgic Projectionist

From 1954 to 1983, Gérard Pierre screened many of the famous films arriving in Martinique. 30 years after the closing of the room in which he worked, it was still difficult for this nostalgic native to change his reel.
São João Farm, Pantanal, Miranda, Mato Grosso do Sul, sunset
Fazenda São João, Miranda, Brazil

Pantanal with Paraguay in Sight

When the Fazenda Passo do Lontra decided to expand its ecotourism, it recruited the other family farm, the São João. Further away from the Miranda River, this second property reveals a remote Pantanal, on the verge of Paraguay. The country and the homonymous river.
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.